Sanford study 23 percent over budget

The Sanford Downtown Waterfront study that originally cost taxpayers $98,000 is now over budget and needs another $23,000. Sanford City Commissioners approved the spending Monday. City Economic Development Director Bob Turk is encouraged by what the study is telling the city.  "I'm excited and I think the whole city is excited."

The plan calls for redevelopment of a city owned parcel that was just demolished, a new civic center, and eventually two parking garages in downtown. When the consultant asked for more money to finish the job, 23 percent more, we asked Turk if he and the city was concerned?  "Well we are, but we kind of expect it a little bit because when you get into a project, you'll know only at that point that there is going to be some extra charges."

It turns out that older maps of the City of Sanford and its downtown district were not even correct. Turk says part of the expense was to correct that error.  "The real estate boundary lines need to be accurate."

The other major expense was a number of meetings the consultant conducted that were outside the original scope of the plan. We asked Bob Turk why they were not included, and why the taxpayers should have to pay for them?

"We plan for a certain amount of meetings, and we were thinking that would take care of it, and we have the workshops, and we have the Commission meetings, and we have the meetings with the County Commissioners. When it gets to the end of it, we just didn't have enough information that we needed."

At the end of the study, Sanford is asking the Seminole County Commission to allow them to extend the downtown Sanford Community Redevelopment Agency, a special downtown taxing district, by 10 years, something Turk says trumps the timing and the number of meetings it takes to get the job done.

"You go ahead and get that approved ahead of time, before we know exactly how much it is going to cost."

The vote to approve the extra 23 thousand dollars was unanimous.