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Here’s The Scoop … Day 2 Back Home ….Thanksgiving In Lauderdale-By-The-Sea …Much To Give Thanks For This Year …

IT’S BEEN A FRUITFUL YEAR…IN LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA….

Dear Readers …Day 2 of awaking to sunshine…temperatures that don’t require a coat and ocean breezes…I could get use to this ….again!… Nice also to awake to many messages of welcome back as well…NICE!…And the ability for the BCbythesea hubby to go for a long bike ride that’s something he is truly savoring and very thankful for!…

We have much to give thanks for this year in our town…starting with 65% of LBTS voters in March …who led the way for a new Commission…made up of a group that gets along…and who are respectful of each other having the best interest of the town squarely in first place … as it should be…but not so for far too long … We have a new Town Manager who thankfully was ready to go back into government at the opportune time for us…She has shown us all what we were missing in just a matter of months…Customer service came to the forefront inside and outside of Town Hall…by not only opening up the long shut doors…but taking away the glass barrier between staff and customers ie…residents…and visitors alike…Next step…to take down those same barriers for businesses who want to set up shop downtown…and then present and future hoteliers and specialty shops as well…TM Connie Hoffmann brought right on board with her another candidate for Interim TM….Assistant TM Bud Bentley who quickly made all those who dreaded dealing with his predecessor thankful for the big …big change they encountered from the get-go… Acting Finance Director Doug Haag  came to town much the same way…enlisted ASAP by Ms. Hoffmann to comply with the direction given by the new Commission to get to the bottom of the payout of the former Town Manager and what was going on behind those closed doors with the finances of the town… He too proved to be such an asset …pun intended …We were most fortunate once again  when he too was able to jump right in full- time and take over as Acting Finance Director providing a transparency of the accounts that showed us the pluses…lots of money in our coffers…and the minuses…of where and how our money was being kept and used/not used … Mr. Haag’s expertise will be an important component as we address the future vision of this town as well as the present aging infrastructure… We  are told the atmosphere inside the ranks those who worked under the previous two administrations have shown they too are thankful ….in the aftermath…Hmmmm… We have seen our underutilized longtime PIO Steve D’Oliveira finally recognized by this TM … At the Roundtable last Monday night not only did the Commission set its sights on jumpstarting the downtown with the exemption process for restaurants…they also agreed #21 of the the top priorities should jump to #1…Government efficiency…which means Ms. Hoffmann can continue with her smart choices of what she and we need to provide just that!… That is indeed something this writer is thankful for… Commission Ethics are in place as well as a personal code of conduct…signed in good faith by all 5 Commissioners …A new way of doing the Town’s business …one Commission meeting /one Roundtable meeting per month has been enacted and seems to be conducive to our town ….. Annual permits are back…to ensure those weekly events we all enjoy so much do not fall way to politics as usual…Public Comments at the monthly Commission meetings have dwindled down and those who step up come with something to add …rather than to something to detract…albeit one lonely soul who heads up a dried-up old PAC who despite a continued “call to arms”…found no takers to comply…That too is something to be thankful for!…A change in special events taking place after the March Election showed all those with any trepidation …no one is irreplaceable and change can and did prove to be a good thing!… Changes in Town Hall led to changes in other services to our town as well…A big shakeup in the VFD leadership…We are watching closely in the hopes that it will mirror in its success that of the Commission and Administration….The BSO has proven once again something special and unique to our town…As the new TM stated early on in her stint as Interim TM…The LBTS-BSO is more like a Town Police Department…Chief Llerena and Lt. Cedeno are hands on in our town…They are in every neighborhood and on the beach…They have been on top of a clean -up in this town that we all should count our blessings for …especially when you read what goes on on either side of us in our neighboring communities… AMR is also now well established as an integral part of our public service providers ….People who sat on the sidelines are slowly coming back as they are witnessing that with the change has come a need and a desire for their knowledge and their input …We have one local in-town newspaper ByTheSeaFuture that gets out the coverage of all the news and events monthly due to the dedication of the publishers and editors knowing its importance to continue on…The Chamber of Commerce is now a partner once more with the Town…and with perhaps new members to come on their board as well as three Chamber members put their hat into the ring….. ….New members joined a few making a return to the Town’s advisory committees and boards …and while this writer may disagree from time to time…what we all agree on is they too want what is best for the town …. The Senior Center is now the Community Center and thankfully Armilio Bien-Aime can look ahead at continuing on with what he started without looking over his shoulder and his ardent and loyal attendees and volunteer teachers can do the same…Those who were thrown under the bus when changes came for garbage service under the former administration…now will for the most part see some relief…… The Pier Alleyway should be open soon… Valet Parking was done as a trial…and will continue we are told…adding to the growing options offered to those who will be coming to town…The west warehouse long ignored by the past administration and not brought to the prior Commission for direction is to be partially leased out and used as an asset …Business uses have been expanded …and signs are going in to direct parkers to the Bougainvilla-A1A parking lot…after being told it could not be done…Drainage problems are now being addressed …after being budgeted and put in order of importance …Town Topics is being delivered at home and is on shiny paper with no political leanings as well as being more timely and informative…with great photos to boot!…We now contract out with our recreation instructors and offer those who reside here as well as visit here to participate …More extensive changes may come with the January workshop on beachfront usage for recreation as well as commercial use offering concessions at the beach …and condos/hotels/Kite- surfers will be given advance notice on that meeting as well as a promise for a decision to come this time around.from the present Comm…..The Comm. kept the millage rate the same without reducing any services to Town…The VFD agreed to forgo annual increase as well as negotiate a better contract with the Town…We reduced the TAtty. budget as well as having the firm reduce its scheduled hourly rate increases FY 2011/12…something most of us taxpayer as well as Comms. did not know was put into the contract by the former TM…The TM and TAtty. will also work to control the costs and agreed to alert this Comm. in the event we are accelerating our usage or nearing the budgeted amount…The firm has also done away with some other costs that were passed on as well…The issue of a retainer/RFP will come back before the next budget…We now enjoy an Audit firm at a huge decrease in the annual cost…thanks to an audit committee appointed by the Comm….A look into expenditures made without Comm. approval in the prior year as well as any red flags that came from going over the previous books are also being addressed concerning the previous longtime hand-picked firm pushed for and unilaterally re-hired by former TM Colon… Employee Insurance and other insurances have started to be addressed and streamlined both in coverage and provider…The public safety swimming pool long a joke in its perceived community pool designation will be filled in…The Coral Reef Project is still a work in progress contractually…but at least the contract is known and this Comm. /Admin. know who is actually behind the “pet” project… Signs are back as well with the carved LBTS logo at the Comm.Blvd. entry in the median and on Town Hall…Add to that the MIA fish bike rack relegated to the west warehouse…being spruced up and brought back to enjoy…LETF funds are back where they belong…not all…but a good portion after a faulty use of them…in this writer’s opinion…As stated above banking service will undergo more changes than just getting interest on multiple accounts as this administration go out for RFP and healthy competition to provide that service to our town…Recycling is being “accelerated”…and the refuse contract with the county we were told we had no choice but to participate in…is not so…and alternatives to produce the best deal for us in the long run are being investigated…The “ruse” of the sewer rates dealt with for years by a chosen few …is now being progressing to make it fair and equitable to all…and to ensure no such act will happen again to impact us in the manner this one will…in the pocketbook!….The Town Manager not only left the annual TM Performance Review in her very amicable and fair contract…but was proactive in providing the goals to assess her on at a special meeting and monthly Rtable this month…She has also moved forward personally to get the year overdue revisions of the Town’s Master Plan on a path to accomplish what is required including an upcoming “series” of speakers and community meetings open to all…The performing arts came back and the first play went off without a hitch…and enjoyed a positive response from all those who attended and made it happen…Parking issues were addressed and streamlined as well with combining residential/beach parking as well as changing special spaces that will benefit all instead of a few political cronies…The issue of parking is a work in progress and being addressed by the P &Z  Board/Commission and Administration….as well as the business community and Chamber of Commerce ….It too will be something to thanks for when we can enjoy the “fruits” of an expanding downtown hospitality district… sure to come with all the changes…

Yep…much has been accomplished over the last year……So there is much to be grateful for and give thanks for as a Town this Thanksgiving…and it’s a given in this writer’s opinion…with the “thinking outside the box” creativity that aided in the accomplishments thus far……. continuing on at a record pace ….as we face even larger tasks ……. that next year we will be able to give many thanks once more…

Happy Thanksgiving from this writer happily residing in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea…

more to come…

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