Jax transition budget meetings: Downtown Investment Authority

Sam Mousa Budget Meetings

New Lenny Curry Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa continues with yet another budget review, of the Jacksonville Downtown Investment Authority with Aundra Wallace. To read about Mousa’s appointment, click here.

This was a lively session.

2:37 p.m.: A discussion of $14,000 revenue collected. Wallace doesn’t know where that money comes from. Rent from somewhere? Who knows.

2:39 p.m.: Salary increases. Maintaining staff to keep the private sector from poaching them. Wallace is happy with his pay grade.

2:41 p.m.: The DIA comes out of the General Fund. HR gives Wallace latitude to hire and fire his staff. Mousa is grilling Wallace: “You should have enough money in your budget to continue paying these people.”

2:43 p.m.: Mousa addresses Melody Bishop, here also on behalf of the DIA, to get clarity. It’s not coming. You can see the tension between Old Jacksonville, in Mousa, and Wallace, who is new to this game.

2:44 p.m.: Mousa: “We’ve had many, many folks come to us with the same concern … we’ve said no [to increases]; the money isn’t there.”

2:45 p.m.: Wallace counters with the effect of losses, having to go back out on the marketplace and find people. Takes six to seven months. That delay would “kill this organization.”

2:45 p.m.: Jim Bailey, also here for the DIA, says that they are proceeding with an “arm behind their back.”

2:46 p.m.: Mousa wants to know what gives the General Fund an idea of what’s coming. He doesn’t seem to see transparency here. “We’re not nickeling and diming, but we’ve got to have a process.”

2:48 p.m.: One Spark being discussed. The investment from DIA went up year to year; a request came in for additional investment for a technology system. Mousa is going to put this on the dreaded Enhancement List.

2:49 p.m.: A quiet exchange between Mousa and Weinstein as Wallace continues on. Some “skepticism.”

2:51 p.m.: Jim Bailey explains that the DIA filled a hole the city government left this year. Apparently, Jacksonville’s downtown needed its own Wi-Fi system. “We weren’t sure that we needed the Wi-Fi.” Supposedly, information was harvested and they got “value” for it.

2:53 p.m.: Ashton Hudson now asking questions. A rule in these things. If Shari Shuman starts talking, it might be headed off the rails. If Hudson starts talking, the plot has been lost.

2:55 p.m.: Professional Services money. $88,000 is unencumbered. Almost $200,000 is encumbered, in the Jacksonville Landing redesign and another project. Bailey: “We can’t delay these things and come back and ask for money every time.”

3 p.m.: Someone’s Siri just said “Sorry, I missed that.” Mousa glowered.

3:04 p.m.: A discussion of subsidized parking garages. “At the time they were done,” Mousa said, “everyone thought they were a good idea; even me. Enough said.”

3:06 p.m.: Mousa immediately recuses himself from a discussion of Southbank debt service. Weinstein takes over as chair. Presumably, there is a JB Coxwell tie somewhere.

3:09 p.m.: Weinstein is still in at chair. Mousa is still essentially contributing, though, talking about the nature of certain debt. Discussion of “old debt” follows.

3:12 p.m.: Shuman thinks this budget needs a lot more work. The numbers are fragmentary. She wants them to come back next week with new numbers. An esoteric discussion of where operations are permitted follows.

3:15 p.m.: We’re done until we meet again.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at [email protected]



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