Proctor Speaks Out on FSU's Attempt to Own Civic Center

By: Mike Springer Email
By: Mike Springer Email

Tallahassee March 28,2012 5:30 p.m.

A move by Governor Rick Scott could give FSU ownership of the Leon County Civic Center. But one county commissioner says not so fast.

"Florida State has demonstrated that it's exclusive for Florida State. They've shutdown things for this community," says County Commissioner Bill Proctor. "They've done a poor job. They've done not as good of a job, frankly, since they've become the new owner."

Commissioner Bill Proctor wants to block what he calls 'a backdoor legislative move' that could allow FSU ownership of the Civic Center.

"What we need is for this building to be given back to the citizens of Tallahassee and Leon County."

The Civic Center is run by the Tallahassee-Leon Civic Center Authority. FSU has seven seats on the 13-member board making it the majority member. But Proctor worries if FSU is given ownership, it won't be able to handle the Civic Center's costs.

"What makes FSU so special that the citizens of Leon County got to continue to pay the bill that they promised, if we let go of our control, authority and voice, they would take care of the bill? They're not doing it," says Proctor.

Right now, the City and County foot that bill. Under their agreement with the Civic Center, the City and County split the bill 50-50. But only if the Civic Center requests it. And payments are capped at $125,000 for each.

In the last 10 years, the City and County have paid out on the debt service agreement once. That came in 2002. The City and County split a bill of around $239,000 dollars.

There is a pending request for the City and County to each pay around $41,000. That's from a 2010 budget shortfall.

The City also pays the Civic Center $60,000 annually as part of a Utilities Service Agreement. Part of that money can be used by the City to supplement any debt the Civic Center may owe.

Proctor plans on bringing up his concerns regarding the Civic Center at the County Commissioners' meeting April 10.

FSU administrators say they want to own the Civic Center to keep it financially solvent. They also say ownership will ensure community access.

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STATEMENT FROM FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT ERIC J. BARRON

Florida State University has been silent to this point regarding the future operation of the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center because of a pending lawsuit concerning the facility. The university is not a party to this lawsuit.

Now that the lawsuit has been resolved, here is the university’s position.

The Civic Center is struggling financially and has been for some time. This year, Florida Stateprepaid more than $550,000 to help the facility remain open. We share the community’s concern in wanting the Civic Center to remain open.

· Florida State’s purpose and interest in the Civic Center is to help the facility remain afloat and for the community to continue to have access.

· For our students, the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center affords the opportunity to hold large-scale public events, such as Commencement and Convocation, as well as serving the basketball program.

· Most universities across the country, similar in mission and size to Florida State, have their own facilities to host these types of large-scale events.

· In 2011, Florida State’s Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) project list included a combined academic-arena complex. This project was removed from the university’s plans because we prefer to try to save the Civic Center, which serves as a valuable community asset.

· If Florida State does have the opportunity in the future to acquire the Civic Center, it would bond improvements, renovating the facility, allowing the Civic Center to continue to attract and host the same type of entertainment, concerts and other activities offered to the community for decades.

· Part of the university’s responsibility would be to ensure that a community board continues to serve the best interests of this community facility. There has never been any intent by Florida State to limit community access nor to limit the variety of cultural and athletic events previously offered.

· The facility is losing its shine – and without improvements cannot continue to serve the community well. If Florida State does not step in and take a leadership role in keeping the doors open, both the community and our students will lose a valued resource. We remain committed to maintaining the facility for the good of the community for many years.

· Finally, the proposed strategy is a much wiser use of public money than for the City of Tallahassee or Leon County to spend millions of dollars to update or replace this struggling enterprise.

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Tallahassee March 28,2012 5:30 p.m.

A County Commissioner is speaking out against a move that could allow FSU ownership of the Civic Center.

Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor says he's against anyone buying the Civic Center.Not just FSU. He wants the people of Leon County to control it.

"The public has invested millions of dollars. There is no reason why FSU should inherit or get this building for a dollar, or ten dollars or one hundred dollars on the cheap after citizens in this community have invested so much, " says Proctor.

Governor Rick Scott's new budget allows for FSU to gain ownership of the Civic Center. FSU says wants to own the Civic Center so it can remain afloat and for the community to continue to have access.


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