LeROY — A new member of the LeRoy City Council said Monday the council should have more oversight over LeRoy’s Replex recreational center and how the city manages its tax increment financing district.
In his second council meeting since taking office, Mike Bailey said council members should have more details on the center’s $425,000 annual operating budget. The council now gets a monthly report, but not an itemized expenditure list.
“The money from the city is pouring in and there is no accountability,” Bailey said. “That has to stop and we have to be able to make decisions on where that money is going because if the city is responsible for paying the debt, we have to make some tough decisions.”
The $4.7 million center opened in May 2009 as a joint venture of the city and the LeRoy Park District, and the two entities share the bond debt. An independent board of two council members, two park district board members and a member at large from the community oversees the operation of the facility.
In March, city Administrator William Catalano said the Replex was producing an average loss of about $1,472 per month.
Bailey said hard decisions will also have to be made about the city’s TIF district, which diverts a share of property tax money generated in the district into a fund for economic development in the district.
In March, Catalano said the city has about seven years to pay approximately $700,000 to other taxing bodies as part of the agreement that created the TIF. That money is intended to compensate those taxing bodies for the tax income they lose because of the TIF.
The TIF account has more than $1 million available, but officials hope to use money for incentives and improvements, not payments to other taxing bodies.
“If we never spent another dollar except on the contracts we already have in place, we would be fine,” Catalano said. “But that would leave us with very little money to do any type of demolition, or infrastructure and road improvements.”
Catalano is in his eighth month as the city’s administrator. He replaced Jeff Clawson, who left for a city administrator’s position in Fairfield, Iowa.
“There are reasons we got to where we are at, but that is water under the bridge,” Bailey said. “We are limited as to how much money we can invest in future projects. We have to learn from the past, but we need to be moving forward from this point on.”