Bob Mennealy files a Freedom of Access request to get a look at city records.

AUBURN – City Councilor Bob Mennealy has questions about city spending – and he wants answers.

Mennealy has filed a Freedom of Access request with City Hall for a detailed accounting of the city’s economic development spending for the past three years. The economic development fund is collected from the city’s tax-increment financing districts.

“If money has gone into that fund, I think we deserve to see how it’s been spent,” Mennealy said.

City Manager Pat Finnigan said she will deliver the information to Mennealy as soon as she has it. City staff would never refuse to give a councilor or a member of the public that information, with or without an FOI request, Finnigan said.

“I have never denied a councilor information,” Finnigan said. “I always respond to any request for information the same way. We provide this kind of information on a routine basis.”

Mennealy asked Finnigan for the budgets for Auburn’s tax-increment finance districts at the council’s May 5 meeting. Finnigan gave councilors that information Monday.

According to those budgets, the city has eight active TIF districts around the city that accumulate about $1.75 million per year. Bond payments for the Mechanics Row parking garage and the Great Falls Plaza parking lot are scheduled to receive $678,007 of that money. Finnigan is proposing to put the rest – about $1.07 million – back in the city’s general fund.

Mennealy wants to see a more complete accounting of how that money has been spent over the past three years. He asked for that information Monday and Finnigan said she would need time to pull it together. She and her staff are currently working on the city’s fiscal year 2004 budget, and that is taking up most of her time.

Finnigan wouldn’t say when she would deliver the information to Mennealy.

“I don’t want to over promise and under deliver,” Finnigan said. “I can’t say it’s going to be ready on a given date but I always respond to citizen and city councilor requests for information.”

Mennealy thinks it should be a straightforward task.

“We the taxpayers, I don’t think we should have to resort to things like this to get information,” Mennealy said. “If you show up and ask for it, I think it should be available. I would hope that the city’s checkbook would be kept in some sort of order.”

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