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COLUMN

Council Watch

Billy Manes paying attention to local government so you don't have to

Item: The city accepts the minutes of the Budget Review Committee meeting held on Nov. 15 for year-end adjustments necessary to close out fiscal year 2010-2011.

Translation: Uh-oh! It’s the end of the year and our dog-eared ledgers are in disarray! Actually, in fiscal terms, we’re already in next year, but who’s counting? The city is. In one fell swoop meant to go largely unnoticed, the city is shifting things like surpluses and contingencies from column to column in an effort to make everything look kosher. Among many other confusing sleights of hand, that means that $23,024 from the mayor’s grant-funding budget will be carried over into the current fiscal cycle. Hooray! On the fishier side, “budget-related” construction funds for the community venues project are being shifted to “unbudgeted interest activity,” with $852,635 for the Amway Center, a whopping $4 million for the performing arts center and $10,709 for the Citrus Bowl. Still, the city reaped (apparently) unforeseen profits from the Amway, resulting in $3.9 million to be thrown back into the venue-making machine, so everything’s fine. We think.

Item: The city approves Florida Department of Transportation Local Agency Program supplemental agreement No. 2 for the Semoran Boulevard sidewalk and streetscape improvement project.

Translation: This latest agreement to save Semoran Boulevard from ugliness funnels an additional $1 million (there has already been $2.4 million approved) from the U.S. Department of Transportation, down through the Florida Department of Transportation and into District 2 Commissioner Tony Ortiz’s urban planning mustache. The latest $1 million is to be used exclusively to replace the sidewalks between Curry Ford Road and Colonial Drive with an “8-foot-wide decorative pattern sidewalk,” because going nowhere should be aesthetically pleasing.

Item:The city approves an ordinance adding a new article to Chapter 57 of the city code to establish a domestic-partnership registry.

Translation: We’ll have to wait until next week’s second reading of this ordinance to know if it becomes the law of the land, but all signs point to go. Basically, the registry provides domestic partners – not just gay ones, and not just those residing in Orlando (though it’s only enforceable in the city) – with basic human rights for a small $30 fee. Participants will be granted hospital visitation, health care decision-making rights, funeral arrangement decisions and prison visitation, among other hetero-granted rights. A companion ordinance is slow in coming for the county, so the city’s going ahead and making the leap on its own. Hopefully. Check back next week, heathens!

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