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Sarasota will tap into green energy fund

With commissioners Paul Caragiulo and Willie Shaw voting to keep the fund, the board's move sent a strong message that leaders in Sarasota are too broke to gamble on progressive energy efforts. "We need to get realistic," said Commissioner Terry Turner as he presented rough budget projections that show the city could face a $20 million deficit in 10 years.

SARASOTA - Citing fears of a gloomy economic future, city commissioners voted 3-2 Monday to raid a renewable energy fund that comes from a portion of what residents pay on their electric bills for clean energy initiatives.

Though no money is now in the fund, more than a dozen residents urged commissioners not to grab at the revenue stream which branded the city as progressive and could some day help fund energy retrofits citywide.

With commissioners Paul Caragiulo and Willie Shaw voting to keep the fund, the board's move sent a strong message that leaders in Sarasota are too broke to gamble on progressive energy efforts.

"We need to get realistic," said Commissioner Terry Turner as he presented rough budget projections that show the city could face a $20 million deficit in 10 years without an economic upswing.

Said Finance Director Chris Lyons, "This is purely a financial decision."

The fund was created two years ago as small consolation to residents who protested a 30-year contract with Florida Power & Light - a move that locked the city with traditional energy options in lieu of a movement toward solar or wind energy.

Former commissioner Kelly Kirschner, who... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

SARASOTA - Citing fears of a gloomy economic future, city commissioners voted 3-2 Monday to raid a renewable energy fund that comes from a portion of what residents pay on their electric bills for clean energy initiatives.

Though no money is now in the fund, more than a dozen residents urged commissioners not to grab at the revenue stream which branded the city as progressive and could some day help fund energy retrofits citywide.

With commissioners Paul Caragiulo and Willie Shaw voting to keep the fund, the board's move sent a strong message that leaders in Sarasota are too broke to gamble on progressive energy efforts.

"We need to get realistic," said Commissioner Terry Turner as he presented rough budget projections that show the city could face a $20 million deficit in 10 years without an economic upswing.

Said Finance Director Chris Lyons, "This is purely a financial decision."

The fund was created two years ago as small consolation to residents who protested a 30-year contract with Florida Power & Light - a move that locked the city with traditional energy options in lieu of a movement toward solar or wind energy.

Former commissioner Kelly Kirschner, who slipped the sustainable energy fund in as the city sealed the deal with FPL, chided commissioners for creating what is essentially a regressive tax that stands to disproportionately affect poor residents.

Kirschner and others dismissed the argument that the fund needed to be tapped to plug budget holes, saying that type of thinking was "akin to breaking your daughter's piggy bank to keep the home from going into foreclosure."

He pointed out that the fund is not expected to reel in more than a few hundred thousand dollars a year in the foreseeable future.

The fund was designed to scrape off money in excess of the $5 million a year the city receives in franchise fees from FPL.

By expecting future gains from the franchise fees, city leaders are banking on either increased energy costs or higher overall energy consumption, which would likely result from an increase in population.


Source: http://www.heraldtribune.co...

SEP 18 2012
http://www.windaction.org/posts/34903-sarasota-will-tap-into-green-energy-fund
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