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Vote is in! Citizens SAY NO GO to $77,000,000 of GO Bonds: City Commissioners Spending Habits – Stopped!

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The citizens of Coral Springs have voted against the city commissioners putting more debt on their heads.   They did not take the bait of politicians  trying to pull the wool over the their eyes by placing three bond issues  totaling $77,000,000  on a March  election that history has always shown  has a low turnout.

Only  6700  people turned out for this expensive election, called to get the citizens to approve the spending .   A majority voted this bad spending down!

It’s about time.

The City of Coral Springs Campaign failed.   They used the slogan:

Investing In You ?  This should have been investing in the City Commissioner’s overspending and incompetence in running the business of the city.

Here is how we got here: 

The city of coral springs passed an increase in taxes in October of last year.  The increase was one of the largest ever. Almost $10,000,000 per year of more money that they can spend on city services. The increase was built in to property values rising, by way of an increase in the millage rate, or the amount the city can collect based on the appraised value of property owned in this city.  That meant that the city can count on  $10,000,000 more money coming in every year as property values continue to rise.  No one liked this increase but the city commissioners, despite protests by the packed city hall of citizens , did it anyway.  Mayor Campbell wanted a small increase , while Commissioner Dan Dailey wanted a huge one.  They settled in the middle – which amounts to 10,000,000 in new tax burden to homeowners and businesses. Next year  they will have another 10,000,000 on top of this years….and they still cannot balance their budget.

This was after the City of Coral Springs Commissioners ran up the cost of the new City Hall, from $27,000,000 to $40,000,000.   There was no belt tightening by these commissioners and instead we have a Taj Mahal type of city hall, that is too big of a building, too big of a parking garage and too expensive for our city of our size.  However , city staff now has nice bigger than needed offices with a nice balcony.  They could have simply bought the ‘Darth Vader’ building for $11,000,000 and renovated it and our city would be in great shape.   The commissioners that you need to blame are  Dan Daley, Larry Vignola and Lou Cimaglia, Joy Carter  and Mayor Campbell  – who had absolutely no experience in making decisions on projects of this size – yet voted for the Taj Mahal.  Skip and Joy actually campaigned saying that they would fight it.   Not sure what is worse – Commissioners that do what they say or commissioners that tell you what you want to hear and do the complete opposite.

So this put the city budget out of balance since they spent $40,000,000 on the city hall and nothing on fire stations, parks and other infrastructure projects. Along with the white elephant of a building comes the operational expenses associated with it, electricity to air condition   all of those offices that have big windows ( they decided not to make the building energy efficient) – and of course pay the mortgage.

Along comes the same  city commissioners who didn’t listen to us before, deciding  they need more money – a few months after they jacked up the taxes on property owners and businesses – to pay for the important  projects that they should have spent the $40,000,000 that they wasted on the city hall.

As well, several projects that were supposed to be funded by the new $75,000,000 bonds were projects already finished( Fire Station in Atlantic Blvd. for instance).   This was a slight of hand approach that we caught them at.  They looked for places to say they needed the money so that they could justify wasteful spending and cover up their poor financial decisions of the past. They could for example take some of the $77,000,000 and pay down the mortgage.

Let’s be clear : the City Commissioners did not put out their best efforts to get out the vote.  No signs on poles – no big effort to provide us with any more information than a document of propaganda sent by mail.   They also did not want to wait for the General Election in November – expecting a low turnout would normally go in the favor of the city commissioners – Put it on a March ballot and surely the public will no doubt be fooled and not vote against it.

They were wrong.  Here are the results to prove it :

A pathetic 6700 voters – 8% of more than 82,000 eligible voters turned out or voted in the absentee ballot.

In a regular election 30,000 people would show up.

8% of the voters decided to No.

92% of the voters thought that $77,000,000  was not important enough to even bother to vote.  ( Reminds me of people that by Loto only if the the pot goes beyond 300 million – $77,000,000 is not enough to pay the $1 for a ticket)

I am proud to be one of the 8% and know how important my vote was.

What Now?

Simply put, the city commissioners need to

  1. tighten their belts and lower their spending.  In a city that is built out , they did not need to double the capacity of the city hall and hire more people.  They did not need to renovate a fire station that was already renovated.
  2. They need to sell the old city hall and the land associated with it to generate funds for essential projects.
  3. They need to rethink in taking over the two water districts ( Coral Springs Improvement District and North Springs Improvement District)  that have plenty of money stashed away and consolidate it into the city water department. ( The stash could be as much as $50,000,000). As well, the water fees are a profit center for the city and increasing their customer base will give more revenue to the city.
  4. They need to have an inquiry into why the cost of the city hall went 30 %  over the original budget and the architects, and city commissioners simply allowed another  $13,000,000 to be spent as if it was nothing.   We need to find out why the city commissioners never asked any of these guys to LOWER the bill.

There is another election coming up in November. No doubt the city commissioners will put the same $77,000,000 on the ballot to once again  fool  the citizens.  No doubt the citizens will remember the City Commissioners that voted for the $40,000,000 City Hall White Elephant and  allowed it to go 30% over budget, increase our taxes to the highest level ever, and tried to pull a fast one and put us another $77,000,000 in debt.

The city commissioners needed a good wake up call.  It looks like the defeat of the $77,000,000 may have done the trick.

 

 

 

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Howard Melamed

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