City sees $1.3M surplus

Published 10:21 pm Thursday, November 18, 2010

Money going to animal shelter, recreation center, other needs

Suffolk plans to use a $1.3 million surplus from last fiscal year to make improvements to the city’s animal care facility, renovate a building for a recreation center and build a capital contingency fund.

City Council members learned of the surplus and recommendations in a Wednesday report by budget director Anne Seward, who also suggested using part of the money to repay part of a federal police grant and fund business retention efforts.

The surplus on the last fiscal year, which ended June 30, has been followed by better-than-expected tax collections in a number of areas, Seward added.

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The largest chunk of the surplus, about $450,000, will be used for improvements at the city’s animal care facility on Forest Glen Drive. The council previously approved about $300,000 to add a separate area for sick animals. The additional money would help with putting in a public lobby, storage areas, staff service area, adoption area and public dog park.

According to Police Chief Thomas Bennett, the current “public lobby” is nothing but a narrow hallway that provides no seating or other amenities. Families wishing to adopt a dog can get acquainted with it in a small side room, which also houses a microwave for employees to prepare their lunches and serves as an employee conference room.

“It’s not an ideal situation,” Bennett said.

Gerry Jones, capital buildings and programs director, agreed.

“It’s not the best way you want to do business,” he said. “This modest investment, I think, will carry us a long way.”

About $120,000 will be used to renovate an existing federal Department of Defense building on Bennett’s Creek Park Road into a recreation center. The defense department hopes to move somewhere within the city that is less developed and has been talking with city officials about the possibility of a “land swap.”

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson said. “I think it’s a great thing.”

The money will be used for modest renovations to equip the building with fitness equipment and other programming needs, Seward said.

About $225,000 will be used to set up a capital contingency fund. The city already holds a general contingency fund, but there was none for capital projects. An extra $355,000 will help repay the liability on a Department of Justice grant the city received from 1995 to 2002. About $150,000 will be used for economic development retention and expansion initiatives.