Saturday, December 16, 2017
News Roundup

Madeira Beach turns around financial fortunes

MADEIRA BEACH — Two weeks after receiving a major national award for his financial reporting, the city's financial director, Vince Tenaglia, was kicked out of his office.

It was not a demotion or a punishment, but rather the first tangible impact from the city's $10.3 million rebuilding project that will result in a new City Hall, fire station and recreational complex.

Tenaglia's office is the only part of the existing City Hall that will be torn down during construction of the new building. For the next year, he will be using a trailer on the City Hall site.

City Manager Shane Crawford cited Tenaglia's financial efforts as critical in the city's ability to begin a new phase of redevelopment and growth.

Tenaglia joined the city in April 2012, following more than a year of political, administrative and financial turmoil during which the city lost nearly all of its administrative staff.

During that period of political and administrative shakeup, the city's previously award-winning financial reporting fell behind schedule, an outside consultant was hired to help and budget planning became contentious.

After nearly a year without the city having permanent administrative leadership, Crawford was hired and he, in turn, hired Tenaglia.

Last month, Tenaglia was cited by the international Government Finance Officers Association for his excellence in financial reporting.

"We are saving money due to you and your staff," Mayor Travis Palladeno told Crawford while also praising Tenaglia.

Tenaglia reported that the city began its 2013-14 fiscal year with $7.2 million in cash, including a $1.8 million emergency fund.

The difference, $5.4 million, is available to spend for general operations, as well as capital projects.

"The way we ended up the year was significantly positive," Tenaglia told the commission last month. "Our operating revenues actually exceeded our operating expenditures."

He predicted that despite future spending plans, the city will end up with $1.3 million in available cash balances by 2018.

So far, the city has rebuilt all the city-owned seawalls, replaced all the beach walkovers and is in the process of rebuilding the groin system that protects its beaches.

This year, the city plans to use much of its excess money, as well as borrowed funds, to rebuild the city's infrastructure, beginning with the City Hall complex.

Next on the city's project list, according to Crawford, will be to repair and replace the city's aging storm water system, rebuild and repave its streets, continue renovation of the city's marina and bury a good portion of the overhead utility lines along Gulf Boulevard.

Much of this will be paid by Penny for Pinellas sales tax revenues, increases in future property tax revenues levied as major new development projects are completed, significant new revenue from recently increased parking fees and potential future fee increases in storm water rates.

"We are financially conservative and responsible and are taking a very conservative approach to our capital projects," Crawford said. "I am glad this report came out when it did. The board (of commissioners) has been coined as spendthrifts but these are projects that have been in the queue for some time. We found ways to accomplish them."

The new parking fees alone will pay the cost of the City Hall building loan and leave money left over.

Crawford stressed that he, Tenaglia and the city staff have no intention of "breaking the city's bank" or overextending the city's credit.

Crawford said most residents are loving the changes.

"When we took over (running the city), there was a bunch of money in the bank because no one had spent it for projects that had been planned for years," Crawford said. "Now we are seeing changes for the first time in a long time as we check off this laundry list of projects — and the city is still in good financial shape."

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