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COLUMN

Council watch

Billy Manes pays attention to city government so you don't have to

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After a full month of lighting trees and stuffing its face, the dour dais of do-gooders reconvened this week to address the very pressing issues concerning the operations of the city we like to call beautiful. Nah, who are we kidding? The real reason everybody got back together was to giggle and snort and talk about football rivalries; also, to weakly sing "Happy Birthday" to Commissioner Robert Stuart. Of particular note was the mayor's fashionable choice of a red Tulsa jersey beneath his sports coat, because apparently he lost a bet when UCF's football team lost something or other. In other words, he has boring friends who make boring bets.

"I believe they sent me the kicker's jersey," the mayor laughed. That's because the jersey was super-tight, see? Let the games begin.

ITEM: The city approves a resolution supplementing Ordinance No. 2012-53 of the city, providing for the issuance of not to exceed $48 million in wastewater system refunding and improvement revenue bonds, Series 2013.
TRANSLATION: Not unlike most junkyard families enduring humble holiday fare, the city of Orlando is presently trying to work out exactly how to get its grimy wallet around its extensive septic wish list. Naturally, because this is Orlando, where anything is possible if you say the words "bond issuance" three times, the city needn't be too concerned about its $36.4 million in itemized desires. (All of your favorites are in there: odor-control improvements, anaerobic digester improvements, a new sanitary system for Florida Hospital – with no individual item costing less than six figures.) All we need to do is shuffle some things around! Specifically, the city will issue up to $48 million in bonds, applying the profits to pay off that old Lane Bryant credit card (also known as "Series 2002A Bonds"), thereby cutting back on debt service on that old debt in favor of what it expects to be $3.5 million in annual debt service on the new loan. Hell, the new bonds won't mature until October 2037, so why worry about it now? If we don't fix the plumbing, nobody's going to like us anymore, and we're going to become that family with toilet paper in its tree. Besides, we're going to feel rich!

ITEM: The city approves an operating and maintenance agreement with Sentinel Capital North Orange LLC.
TRANSLATION: Speaking of loans that don't necessarily work out (but so what), back in March 2010, Old Southern Bank at 250 North Orange Ave. had the dubious honor of being the first community bank in Orlando to fall to federal regulators in 20 years. Bad loans, recession, desperate attempts at reinvestment – you know the drill. Some of that fiscal slack was picked up by Centennial Bank out of Arkansas, which seemed promising for about, oh, six months. After acquiring Old Southern's downtown office and bragging about it, Centennial closed the branch in Sept. 2010, leaving the rickety old building to lapse into foreclosure on a $15.3 million mortgage by September 2012 (acquiring numerous code violations in the process). Sentinel Capital Partners, a local consulting firm, foreclosed on the property, and now the buzz is that it's totally going to sell because everybody loves commercial real estate downtown right now. In the interest of facilitating that pipe dream, the city is restating its parking garage agreement (unchanged since 1988) with Sentinel so that whoever moves in can still park in the Washington Garage, you know, for a price.

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