Palm Coast City Manager’s First Town Meeting on New City Hall

In front of a mixed crowd, Jim Landon dodged several financial questions claiming he just did not know the details.

Palm Coast, FL – November 2, 2010 – Last night, Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon held the first of four scheduled "town hall" meetings to explain his case for a new Palm Coast City Hall in Town Center. In front of a mixed crowd of 35 people at Indian Trails Middle School, Landon presented his plan and answered questions; except for some about financing.


Five years ago, Palm Coast voters resoundingly turned down a proposal for a new city hall in Town Center. That 75,000 square foot edifice would have cost $22,000,000 funded by revenue bonds. The bonds would have been paid over a 30-year period through a 40 cent per thousand property tax increase.

New Town Hall

Though not here at the time, Landon believes that the voters in 2005 turned down the tax increase, not the concept of a new city hall. The proposed city hall, like the 2005 model, would be built in Town Center on land the city already owns but with three major differences this time around.

  • Smaller – The proposed city hall will be only 40,000 square feet
  • Less Costly – The estimated cost of construction, landscaping, and furniture for the proposed building is $10,000,000.
  • No tax increase – The new city hall would be built using "existing money" rather than tax funded bonds.
Landon’s fundamental argument was that it’s better to own than rent. He showed a slide that illustrated a "break even" point of 17 years. That’s when, according to a graph, the accumulated cost of renting would equal the cost of owning the new building.
The current rental rate is $240,000 per year. Over a 17 year period, that totals $4,080,000, way shy of $10,000,000. When presenting the graph, the city manager pleaded ignorance, explaining that he has expert financial staff that knows how to do those sorts of things. He relied on them.
Landon was also caught off guard when someone pointed out that the 5% interest the city earned on the CRA loan would more than cover the existing rental expense (with $50,000 per year left over).
The concept plan calls for a detached structure designated as City Council Chambers. Several voters suggested that other facilities could be employed more economically.

Where will the existing $10,000,000 come from?

  • $1,200,000 from the Utility Fund – justified because the utility billing department will be relocated into the new building.

  • $2,000,000 from the Capital Projects Fund
  • $1,000,000 from the Building Department Fund – The building department charges fees for permits and inspections. State law dictates that fees are to be used to cover the cost of running the department. During the building boom, the city’s fees were way too high. They over-collected more than $6,000,000. The excess is being "worked off" by a temporary reduction in permitting and inspection fees. The $1,000,000 comes from what will be left over – justified as paying for the part of the new building which will be used by the building department.
  • $5,800,000 from the CR 100 Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) – The CRA, covers Town Center, some parcels south of SR 100 and some property along Old Kings Rd. [The CRA is another story.] It was put in place to redevelop blighted areas using tax increment financing [yet another story]. When the CRA was initiated, the city loaned money to the CRA to enable it to begin acquiring land along Bulldog Drive. That money plus accrued interest at 5% now totals $5,800,000. Now, the CRA is in a position to borrow money on its own so it can retire the debt to the City of Palm Coast.

Reference: [SR 100 CRA Redevelopment Plan]

Most of the meeting attendees’ questions were an attempt to understand the financing. Landon’s answers were not always illuminating. At one time he stated that the existing $10,000,000 was "capital" money, much of which comes from sources other than property taxes. Yet, the money loaned to the CRA was from the "General Fund." How can it come back as capital dollars? Landon replied at one time, "There are so many different funds, I can’t keep them straight." 

Reader Poll’s news story announcing the scheduled meeting contains an unscientific poll. It asks the question: If Palm Coast could construct a new city hall for $10 million using "existing" funds, would you support the project? Prior to last night’s meeting, the results were:

  • YES – 19.55% (52 votes)
  • PROBABLY – 10.15% (27 votes)
  • PROBABLY NOT – 16.54% (44 votes)
  • NO – 53.76% (143 votes)
The poll is still "open." We’d like your response. To participate, go to: Town Hall Meetings Scheduled to Explain Plans for New Palm Coast City Hall. The poll is at the bottom of the page.
Landon’s next scheduled meeting is at 6:00 P.M. November 4th at the Palm Coast Community Center, 305 Palm Coast Pkwy. NE

5 replies
  1. Evelyn Palmeri
    Evelyn Palmeri says:

    PC City Hall

    Tax bills arrived in the mail yesterday. Our Palm Coast property value declined by over 50% while our tax bill didn’t.

    Let this issue go on the ballot and see what voters think about it.

    BTW – these funds they’re trying to pillage were set up for a purpose and I don’t think that purpose was another Taj Mahal.

  2. Cyd Weeks
    Cyd Weeks says:

    The building fund?

    I thought the results of the audit was a determination that the funds are supposed to be returned to the residents? Please, pray tell, how do they justify that there is any ‘money left over’ much less justify it to build an oversized building?
    If he can’t justify the financing and doesn’t know what the particulars are then what the heck is he doing making the presentations? Get the people who know what they are talking about there so we can have an informed public who then can make an informed decision. What the heck?
    Which brings to mind…is this why they are moving on the emininent domain issue because the building they are proposing is near that entrance into Town Center that really isn’t needed since we already have an entrance to Town Center off of Rt 100?
    Hmmm… guess I’ll have to look that up.
    Until they can justify why they need this building and a building of the size they are proposing and the finances that are behind it, my vote is NO.

  3. Jim McClellan
    Jim McClellan says:

    City Hall

    Take money from one City pocket and put it in another. It is STILL ALL TAXPAYERS MONEY. Besides, there is a ton of unused commercial space in the city. The argument about rent vs. purchase is also bogus as it is incomplete. No discussion about maintenance and other costs of owning. Most of us said no already. In case our city manager and officials missed it; NO!!

  4. George Meegan
    George Meegan says:

    Palm Coast-Flagler

    Let’s face it we don’t need the county and the city, combine them both and put an elected mayor in charge. We don’t need to be paying for City manager, that had his homework eaten by his dog. The boys running the city that usualy tell him what to do are staying away from things as they don’t want the curtin to be opened and let the public see them on the controls. Jim did many stupid things in Texas, that’s why they hired him, he is easily manipuliated, and needs to be on a short leash.

    Then we can use the county facilities already built, in a good location.

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