What's Going On at Dallas Farmers Market?

I've spent the better part of the morning trying to find out some answers to the myriad questions raised by last night's Channel 8 piece regarding the fate of Dallas Farmers Market. David Schechter points out: The city has said that the downtown was expected to lose $137,000 during FY2009-10 --

as evidenced by the info provided with the city's own request for proposals

as it looks for someone to privately operate the market. But according to at least one interested party, the city says it actually lost $800,000 last fiscal year. And while that's in line with recent years' heavy losses -- and closer to the round-$500,000 figure the city expects to lose in FY2010-11, per posted docs -- it's also the first time that whopping number's come to light.

Some city officials with whom I spoke this morning, who don't want to go on the record till they see the numbers with their own eyes, are appalled -- especially since the 800 thou never came up during the budget debate that ended with last week's vote. One question to be answered: How's the city going to pay for the shortfall? Out of reserves? (Dallas Farmers Market operates out of the enterprise fund, meaning it's suppose to generate enough revenue to cover its own related expenses.) Says one city official, the contingency reserves, which total about $4.9 million, aren't bottomless -- "this isn't a money tree," after all.

City Manager Mary Suhm's in meetings with the mayor this morning. Dallas Convention Center interim director Al Rojas is out of the office with a family emergency, says his assistant. And Dallas Farmers Market Administrator Janel Leatherman is unavailable -- and no one can say when she'll be around to talk. The city did want bids by September 22, initially. But that deadline's been extended till October 20. But as tire-kicker Jim Ingendorf told WFAA: "I really don't believe, in a year from now, this place will still be open." That can't be right, can it? Updates forthcoming?

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