CITY COMMISSIONERS PASS $156,000,000 Budget with No Discussion

Citizens Pay $1,000,000 more for Garbage

Sept 18,2013 Coral Springs Fl :  Tonight, the city commissioners did something unbelievable tonight : They past a $156,000,000 budget spending your money without a thought.  It is the first time I can remember that a budget meeting took less than 5 minutes. 5-0  They all passed it.  No one discussed it, criticized or even cared much about it.  The budget after all was perfect.    $156,000,000 and change .. This is not something we should be surprised about.  No one sitting on this commission has ever been involved in spending this kind of money. One has never been in business.  No one has even been involved in a business that has 1% of this budget.   That is why we should never be surprised that they passed it in 5 minutes without discussion. After all,  they simply do not understand it. It’s not their fault.  It is ours. We elected them.   more ….

At least one person should have said  no.

The question of course is how could they have not debated the expenses laid out by the city.  They did change the date of the meetings so few people realize that no longer occurs on the third Tuesday of every month but instead on the Wednesday.  Now they also changed the 1st Tuesday of every month at 6:30 pm to 9 am in the morning……These moves to say the least creates confusion and at the same time makes it almost impossible for working citizens to attend.  No doubt the turnout to say the least was sparse and no doubt no one even discussed the  $156,000,000 dollars that the commissioners spent of our money in 5 minutes.  This was an increase of $3,000,000 last year, which is why they are increasing our taxes this year.

Instead the commissioners spent time on speaking about the  international day of  peace week. I was only waiting for the commissioners to join hands and Mayor Boccard  leading everyone in the  ‘ All We Are Say-ing…..Is Give Peace A Chance ” as sung by John Lennon.  The only other thing that they forgot to do, was pass a city ordinance declaring that the world should stop fighting.. ” Why can’t they all just be friends?” .  then they talked about ‘Cleats for kids’…how they all volunteered.  One Commissioner even said that he was happy winning the Fantasy Football league.  Another told everyone that their son is having a birthday, and that we all should celebrate it.  That is what people who think they are royalty do.  Question  $156,000,000 budget….forget it.  After all, how can the city manager be wrong?  Even in the old days of a unified city commission where everyone also voted as a pack, they at least asked questions.  However,  you have to know what questions to ask in the first place, such as:

Why is there a $580,000  Contingency line item?

A contingency is a line item on a budget that has no real allocation toward any specific expenditure.  It is a fudge factor that is created by those that make budgets to fatten it in case they made a mistake and need more money and don’t want to ask anyone for it.   It can also be allocated at the whim of the commissioners to any expenditure they wish without the public knowing what it was spent on.  It appeared for the first time in the budget of the city in 2013 and never before then. That is a lot of money and yet no commissioner even asked what it is being used for. If they don’t use it,  will they give it back to us? After all,  they are increasing our taxes this year since the budget is $3,000,000 more than last year.

Why the Red Light Camera Revenue Increase ?

Expected revenues from Red Light Cameras of  $197,400 .  They only budgeted $50,000 for 2013. They are expecting a rash of revenues as more people run red lights, and of course cause accidents.  Red Lights Cameras never stop someone from running through them…they only either supply an income to the city or take a picture of the guy running through the red light as he kills somebody with his car.  The right thing to do is to keep all traffic lights on all intersections RED for 2 seconds before any green light is on. This way the intersection clears….no one gets a picture taken while they kill somebody, and no money to the city……which is why no one in government wants to recommend this.

Why the Franchise FEES of $10,332,932: Are they not Hidden Taxes ?

Franchise Fees  are another way of the city to get money from its citizens without the citizens agreeing to it.    Look at your FPL or garbage bill.  The Franchise Fee charged is the pass through amount that is collected by the city from the utility.  It does not require a vote as do tax increases. Citizens that use the utility get  charged exactly what the utilities gets charged. It is a tax in disguise.  $10,332,932, and it  represents and increase of 5%. FPL under contract pays these fees to the city in return for getting the exclusivity to sell electricity to us.  However, since there really is no other utility that sells power in the state of Florida,  the Franchise fee to say the least is another way for the city to get revenue from the citizens without the need to ask. FPL alone gets to collect from us on behalf of the city $7,434,000.  This fee increased 5%. Why?

How Come Our CITIZENS WILL PAY $1Million Dollars  More On Trash Removal ?

Regarding our great trash removal and the new contract between the city and the new trash collector ( we got rid of sold waste management. This has now increased by 44.6% a whopping $866,000. This increase is directly passed on to homeowners and businesses. Additionally the city will now collect another $258,000 an increase of 12.79 percent.  Then, they need to pay the previous contract holder another 250,000, perhaps for ending their contract.  This amount plus the franchise fee represents more than $1,000,000 dollars in hidden taxes !   This is aside from the special assessment that the city gets from our tax bill which has now increased another 12%.  Who negotiated this contract?

City Subsidy of the Performing Arts Center increased by  12 %

The city performing arts center is important to our city.  However,  ours just keep costing us more an more.  This year the subsidy increased by 12.36% to $500,000.   In 2011 there was no subsidy.  2012 we started to pay for it again, and now we are back up to levels of propping it up to $500,000 per year. It is common knowledge ( I used to own a theatre – editor) that unless you have at least 2300 seats or more, there is no way to make a theatre into a paying proposition. The center has 1700 seats.   That means the only shows that can be booked revenue neutral are kids shows….which is great for our city, but poor regarding revenues. If we want to have a real Performing Arts Center, then we need to invest the money to increase the amount of seats so that serious shows can book here and the citizens do not have to subsidize it. Spend the money on expanding it or finding a buyer that can expand it. It is not a sports team that you can move to another city. At a minimum, the city commissioners should have asked why are we spending this money, and who is running our show into the ground.

How is it possible that the City Manager’s Department Budget  increased 10% or 300,000  and   there is only 1.2% Increase to Police Department Budget and  Emergency Services Drops?

Maybe we should pay for the ‘quality ‘ garbage service that we are about to receive, however, if we are going to raise anyone’s budget should it not be the Police Department and Emergency Medical Services?  To be fair,  the budget of the police department did increase by $700,000 . But this increase matches pretty close with the transfer of money that the police department gets from state run special funds coming from what they had confiscated from criminals.  To be fair as well, there has to be a very good reason to increase the salaries of the City Manager and his staff.  I just wanted someone to tell us all why.  They didn’t.

I have spent more time in giving you all of this information, and you reading it, than the city commissioners did in passing the $156,000,000 budget. In the 5 minutes they took to discuss it they ended up praising each other and the staff and city manager’s office, and in so doing, they spent $30,000,000 per minute of our money. Even if they had previously done their homework, took the time to analyze each line item, ask the questions, then they should have at least discussed it in front of the citizens.  They all voted together.  $156,000,0000 .

Don’t you think what we need are serious commissioners that understand that it is our money they are spending and not theirs?

-Howard Melamed , Editor of Coralsprings.com

Author: HelpMeHoward