The city manager pitched a plan last week during a workshop to invest about $800,000 in the Dunedin Historical Society and the Dunedin Fine Art Center, while using code enforcement fines to spruce up distressed properties.
It is meant to be "broad-based" and "inclusive" alternative to economic development, he said.
Rob DiSpirito's Quality of Life Initiative calls for:
- Using code enforcement fines to help make repairs to and repaint private homes in distressed neighborhoods.
- Giving $200,000 to the Dunedin Historical Society and Museum for an 800-square-foot expansion and rehabilitation.
- Giving $500,000 to the Dunedin Fine Art Center to match a "rare grant opportunity" for a planned expansion of its West Wing.
- Alotting $100,000 toward Blatchley House improvements. The house is slated to be used as a future coastal and environmental education center at Weaver Park. The city is already allocating $46,000 over the next two consecutive years.
The $500,000 committment to the Dunedin Fine Art Center is time sensitive. The organization needs to have a match by July 2013.
"Interest rates are at an all-time low, so borrowing to fund these construction costs will never be as affordable as it is today," DiSpirito said.
The city commission votes Thursday on the final 2013 budget, which DiSpirito cut by 10 positions.
DiSpirito threw out a few possible financing options. He said the city could either take out a 20-year loan, resulting in $60,000 to $70,000 in annual debt payments or use part of the potential $1 million in bond re-financing savings, none of which would result in raising taxes or cutting public services, he said.