Amarillo, TX - An effort to add more local police officers could have a direct impact on the organization responsible for downtown development.
Downtown Amarillo Inc. (DAI) is fighting to keep all its funding from the City of Amarillo in the midst of budget season. City council members are trying to avoid a high tax increase and they are making cuts to many departments.
DAI is facing a proposed 15 percent budget cut. Tuesday DAI Board President John Lutz asked the council to reconsider and explained why DAI needs that $40,000. "We use that money to push development projects forward," said Lutz. "Whether it be a planning study, a communications outreach, or whether we use some of these efforts on a specific project, so it's going to hurt."
One of DAI's more recent projects was applying for a $16 million federal TIGER grant to improve Polk Street. Without funding, DAI would not have been able to apply. "Whenever you make an application for these, you have to provide very detailed schematics," explained Lutz. "All total, it was about $280,000 in preparing those block by block schematics and then putting it together in such a way that we can use it as an application. But the return on investment could be $16 million. I would take that deal any day. $280,000 and get $16 million back? That's a good deal for Amarillo."
Lutz believes there is an economic return on the city's investment into DAI and hopes that investment will continue.
However, councilman Randy Burkett is not so sure. He believes there are too many organizations committed to downtown. "Well we have several boards that work on downtown Amarillo like Center City, the Local Government Corporation and DAI," said Burkett. "In a perfect world, I'd like to see those blended together and we get one good board with some new faces and some new ideas and kind of move forward as one board rather than all these different boards that have got us to this point today."
Burkett said the 15 percent cut along with other cuts across the board are necessary to provide Amarillo with nine new police officers. The council has until September 15 to finalize the budget.