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Here’s The Scoop … The September 27, 2010 Regular Commission Meeting … The Line Is Finally Drawn …

TIME TO ENVISION THE FUTURE ….

Dear Readers … for this writer the Commission meeting on Sept. 27th was the line drawn in the sand I was anxiously waiting for ….To get past a tough 5 months  (almost to the day, April 26th) from the time John Olinzock was sacked one week after his boss, Esther Colon and Connie Hoffmann came into town offering up her experience and services for the Interim Town Manager position in order to help us through the transition following one tough municipal election ….The vote by the Commission for the new FY 2010/2011 budget and for a new Town Manager in order to move on and be able to focus on the future rather than the past was for me something all of us should take pride in …. I know we will no doubt uncover more left behind from prior Administrations that will require attention….. but, after seeing our new Town Manager and her handpicked Asst. Town Manager, and Finance Director, over the last 5 months …they can deal with and address anything else they uncover…and help this town in its vision for the next decade …..Now is the time for the Commission to deal with the boards/committees and direct them in the roles they will play as well as the role the rest of the residents and businesses will play in the larger vision process…It is also opens the door for those who threw up their hands and walked away ….to come back and offer up their knowledge and expertise to sit alongside those of us who did not go through the process five years ago and come up with the plan that is carried out to fruition ….

An overview/excerpts/ Verbatim comments  of the 9/27/10 Commission meeting with the Town Manager Resolution to be posted separately …

The meeting began with the pledge and a moment of silence due to Rev. Hunsaker not being in attendance… There were no additions, deletions etc…so next up was Public Comment…which produced the unfortunate lone commentary from CIC member Tom Carr (prev. post) … Following that was the monthly Public Safety updates (see agenda)..There were no questions for the BSO …but the Mayor/VM Dodd realized that there should have been and asked Chief Llerena to come up before Comm. comments to address the employee of the months and the large cases they broke which were attached to the backup… This writer believes the BSO should take the monthly update time to get the word out on these rather large busts…especially in light of all the increases we hear we face with a new contract next year… The BSO report passed 5-0…The new VFD Chief came up and was asked about the medical call and hi-rise drill from VM Dodd after a resident inquired on fire drills… Chief Paine replied the medical calls would show a decrease after the newly implemented dispatch/ fingerprint sign -in etc…he discussed last month… Fire drills will be done at hi-rises in town and Chief Pained explained how that would work as well as other training  ..He said he had a 5 year agenda …and hi-rise drill would be done every 6 mos-annually with designated hi-rise residents helping in accounting for residents in a real fire…The Mayor asked for this to be on Ch. 78 & on Town website to allow hi-rises the opportunity to partake in the drills… Comm. Clottey  stated the Commissioners all met with Chief Paine and when she met with him he informed her they now had a cap for members of 66 …Chief Paine stated it was to keep costs down for training, supplies and gear..He said there are 66 members now and 2 left for professional fire departments so 2 were coming in… Comm. Clottey asked him to explain the training being done and to make it a practice to keep informing them and the public…Paine spoke about going to the roof of Ocean Colony …going to old & new condos and flash training and a computer generated program that gave the FFs the role of what to do/not to do with an expanding dangerous fire that involved 40 departments and a conclusion in 35 minutes,,Comm. Vincent asked about the Beach Patrol and stated residents had concerns..Paine spoke of all Beach Patrol members getting their lifeguard certification in order to be able to be on patrol and there would always be 2 cert. members on each ATV during rough times and weekends …He did assert they are not lifeguards…The VFD report passed 5-0…AMR Chief Brook Liddle came to discuss the return of the emergency medical review committee …It has been dormant for some time…Readers will remember it arose after some concerns about Hipaa and AMR’s accountability on the job… This program is still not desired by many residents who fear Commissioners will be privy to their private medical information…The VM and Comm. Clottey spoke of how impressed and worthwhile it was and in the end put forth a new member should step into the role (which is revolving)..The Mayor stated she had not been on the committee yet…but encouraged a new member as well…Comm. Sasser made a motion for Comm. Vincent  and Comm. Clottey seconded it…it passed 5-0 s well as 5-0 vote for the AMR report…

The minutes …which again were really well done this time…passed 5-0 separately after the Town Clerk described a few minor changes she made on the 2nd set…

The Consent Agenda had some items the Int. TM wanted pulled…to add they would be approved with the TAtty. approval … those were item A & C… B (auto, prop, liability ins &  wkers comp) & D (50,000  for cost overruns for TAtty.) …passed no discussion 5-0… A. was the tennis program and the newly implemented split of revenue with the tennis pro (prev. posts)… Comm. Clottey asked to explain the free programs…The TM explained the Comm. indicated they wanted some free programs in the agreement…Comm. Sasser asked that it be for Town residents ..After further discussion and a curve ball of sorts concerning relatives of LBTS residents.. it was decided it would be for residents and relatives …VM Dodd wants feedback on the new structured program and was told that would be coming… It passed 5-0..

BC- one question from this writer after hearing the dialog on the dais…Have the rules changed for use?… Will the courts be used by anyone ….even from over the bridge who pays for recreation …allowing for residents to have first choice?… Will this bring out the “group” who use it primarily now to protest?…

Consent item C was about the health ins….(see agenda post )… Finance Dir. Haag reiterated what was in the backup…and the increase…He added because we had a lack of notification time dealing with the increase the FLOC verbally offered that if we go out and are able to secure better rates they will give us 45 days,…. The increase for health ins. for employees who receive 100% for single /primary employee and 50% for dependent…The TM stated in the backup to go out for a broker and see if we can do better..It passed 5-0 for group health ins. with FMIT

BC- This writer still believes the issue of 100% coverage needs to be dealt with…

The Ordinances for 1st reading were the Comprehensive Plan (prev. posts)…no public comment /no Comm. comment passed 5-0… Ord. 2010-14 was to make sure we are eligible for FEMA  reimbursement… after a few questions on the services and who declares the emergency… (It’s done at every level according to the TAtty.)…TM Hoffmann stated the Gov. is the only one who can call for a State of Emergency to get the FEMA reimbursements to kick in… Bud Bentley answered questions about who was contracted for the cleanup…Post Bucklye is the management vendor…as well 2 debris removal companies…and after questions from VM Dodd he will check the pricing of Choice… Comm. Sasser asked who was in charge TM or Mayor…Mayor can step up as the TAtty. believes we have on the books… It passed 5-0….

Resolutions…first one was the dreaded and dreadful Interlocal school board reso…voted down last time 3-2…Still not happy or inclined to pass it was Comms. Vincent/Sasser and VM Dodd …but having no choice …and after VM Dodd reluctantly gave a 2nd to Clottey’s motion it passe 5-0 as the 3 Comms. looked as if they were holding their noses …

Resolution B. was the Town Manager Agreement..as previously posted and in the Sentinel…it was a 5-0 vote for Ms. Hoffmann… A detailed post to come with verbatim commentary…

Resolution c. was dealing with the parking fees…(yep again)…It was decided that there will be no more beach parking permits …only residential for $50 annual/ $40 for seniors 65 & over per Comm. Sasser’s proposal/ pro-rated on July 1st to $30… Comm. Clottey again showing she is being led by the nose down a blunderous path… stated that there had been many who came for beach parking  (3 CIC cronies who live 3-4 blocks away and are able bodied except for one speakers spouse)… She also pulled out this zinger…that had everyone rolling their eyes and shaking their heads… She stated that a long time ago it was only those who lived west of A1A who could get a beach parking permit…HUH?… The Mayor said that was a new one to her…and stated she had purchased one in the past and lives on A1A… Comm Clottey wanted the staff to look into it…The Vice Mayor was quite emphatic that to do so was a waste of staff time…especially since there is no more beach parking…Hardship permits will rise a little to $125 (they had been 200 and then were lowered down again in 2009)…Employment parking was to be moved from $120-$150 or from $10 -$12.50 a month…and Bougainvilla/ Poinciana would go up to $1….The VM stated he was very happy with the recommendations and felt $50 was a bargain… Clottey asked why we were not increasing the El Mar lot and Mr. Bentley went on to discuss making that lot for visitors …He also stated in the code that lot fee was never implemented…Comm. Vincent was pleased with the handicapped spaces being recommended to be moved and asked if we were in compliance with the recommended number…Mr Bentley felt we were since it is a new lot…Comm. Clottey had her 2nd time to respond to the VM and looked a little frazzled…sort of like the girl feeling she was picked on in class…She stated it was her “responsibility to point out what residents have told me.”..it is “My job”…”if you want to make fun of me, so be it” (not what he was doing) …

BC-That must have been some flawed CIC meeting the night before…and this is just the tip of the iceberg…from Comm. Clottey for the evening following that meeting…sad to say…

The Mayor understood the rate and parking lot increases but had concerns about the hardship/ employee rates being increased… Town Manager Hoffmann and Bud Bentley spoke of comparatives to other municipalities and how low we are…as well as calling attention to some actions that take place by employers who usually cover employee parking using the low rate to pay for employees to park elsewhere leaving ..The increase are moving slowly to be increased…The vote was taken on the above consolidation residential-beach permits/ increases and passed 5-0… Comm. Sasser thanked Asst Town Clerk Nikki Smith for the hot pink permits for the next year…

The Commission faced its first Qausi-Judicial Hearing and Mitigation of Recorded Liens decision since they put it in the books… Development Dir. Jeff Bowman was not present and Asst, TM Bud Bentley stood in along with Code Officer Kim Williams …Bentley gave a brief intro to this being the 1st time and dealing with it in other communities he and  the TM had worked in…He explained the criteria and the percentages..In this case the Respondent was asking for a 90% reduction and the Respondent was a bank…who took the property in Bel Air over …it was a foreclosure… The TAtty. stepped in to walk them through the process of the proceeding…and asked the Town Clerk to swear all those who intended to speak…June White not only could not do it …she lost her voice and was replaced on the dais later on by Nikki Smith …TAtty. Trevarthen carried out the swearing in…Comm Sasser asked some questions of the the TAtty. for explanation of equitable consideration and flexibility on the situation… Code Officer Kim Williams walked the Comm. through the long history of the property and a fence problem among other items…and how it progressed from the violation to the Spec. Magistrate and the growing fines… The Respondent was Sue King who was hired by the Well Fargo’s Foreclosure Property dept. to be a liaison stated it was an inherited problem for the bank found after doing a title search…she expanded the cost for repairs for the bank to include a new kitchen AC pool and fence…She spoke of LBTS not having a procedure for mitigation in place when she began the job…and that she contacted Comms. and Town and was told to hold on until after March…She stated her clients have been cooperative with the Town… The TAtty. stated for the record any letters or correspondence must be disclosed …The Mayor stated she had  received an email but did not respond and spoke also to Hank  Overton to bring it back to the Comm./ Comm. Clottey stated she received emails and stated she responded she did not go along with the request/VM Dodd stated he had contact and did say to hang in there and it will be brought up at the next Comm…He added he never spoke about the outcome promised …. Comm. Vincent asked the Respondent to go back through the history and stated the bank complied and “we do appreciate that” stating the bank was not at fault…He asked if it was purchased for a flip and it was acknowledged it was…With that the TAtty. stated there were no more questions…they received the evidence and the Mayor called up Bill Vitoli who made a comment as allowed in these procedures by the public after being sworn in…He spoke of a property by him that was being cared for by the neighbors at their expense..He wanted a high fine for the inconvenience these properties bring to the neighbors…There wasa short recess called…

After the recess the Respondents’ Rep. stated she had been doing this for 2 years…Comm. Vincent had more questions about the certificate of title and the Rep answered those questions adding this property was maintained by the bank…and the Comm. could verify with Kim Williams on that in reference to Mr. Viltoli’s comments… Comm Clottey questioned the woman about her employment …if she was a bank employee…She stated she was not…Comm. Clottey stated she must be getting a percentage then.. Ms. King answered she did not …she makes $500 as liaison plus $250 to travel to these meetings…No more questions…Comm. Vincent made a motion to change the mitigation to 80% …20% of the fines would be charged to end this… The VM seconded for discussion and stated 90% was never what he had in mind when pushing for this and asked if the funds received could go elsewhere than the Gen. Fund for something worthwhile…The TAtty. asked for staff input about code fines and where they can go… Mr. Haag thought it could be designated if the the Comm. directs it to be… and the TM stated how it would be transferred and accounted for …The VM said he wanted it to go on the Roundtable for discussion… Comm. Vincent refined his motion to include the exact amounts of the funds required …and it passed 5-0 with the TAtty. stating it was to be paid in 30 days…

Before Comm. Comments was when Chief Llerna was called up to cover the report that was overlooked… He spoke about the midnight shift as well as the deputy of the month and their big arrests…He stated arrests have increased significantly…A loud applause came from the hall….

Comm. Comments began with Comm. Clottey who stated she would be brief…she was grateful for no increase in the millage…She welcomed the Town Manager stating she had been wonderful (see future post on the TM Reso. Clottey comments)…She stated she was sad about the Reef Project (prev. posts) and that conversations between attorneys were  going on…She stated it is no cost to Dr. Goreau …his attorney is pro bono …but a cost to the Town…and that it will be an asset to the community…

BC- We hear other CIC members took the same stance and want the Town to go ahead on the current breached contract…speaks volumes about the organization…and pet projects…calling for them to turn a blind eye…

Comm. Vincent stated he wanted to stay focused on what had just transpired with the budget and the millage… He stated on a personal level he wanted to thank Doug Haag…Bud Bentley..and Ms. Hoffmann…He said this Commission made the right decision and that there is sincere admiration from the residents and businesses and he looks forward to working with her…

Vice Mayor Dodd…gave his Hillsboro Inlet update…and stated ” It is finally a pleasure to be seated up here and serve the best interests of the town. To many who watch at home on TV and for those who attend the meetings you will have noticed the obvious signs of harmony and civility on the dais , shorter meetings and fewer public comments. What you may not have noticed is the level of professionalism that has permeated throughout the way the town operates. Businesses have given me feedback that they no longer dread coming to town hall because there is an attitude of “How can we help you” as opposed to “ It says in black and white”….. I as the Vice Mayor ( still haven’t got used to that yet) receive the information necessary to make the right decisions to steer the town where it needs to be going. Rome wasn’t built in a day so we have to be patient. Our new Town Manager unfortunately only has two hands and I think there will be enough to keep both of them busy for quite some time. Behind the scenes I am receiving the information that the town manager will be opening every cupboard and closet checking for skeletons and whether the contents is up to snuff. In this back-up you may not have noticed the Health, dental, vision, life and short term disability insurance for town employees will be reviewed in a timely manor this coming year with appropriate recommendations, staff will be consulted and a survey of other local municipalities to ensure we are where we need to be. You are all aware that large cash balances in bank accounts were not earning any interest and finally we have someone in charge who is more concerned about financial matters rather than winning awards. I am aware of many other issues, the purchasing manual, the employment agreements and the salaries of our staff to name three areas where the manager will be making recommendations to this commission. The many parking issues will be the subject of a comprehensive study no more of the “to bag or not to bag”  just how much staff time and effort was spent locking and unlocking all the bags let alone the commission’s time discussing where the bags were located to say nothing of the lost revenue. These are exciting times and I look forward to continuing to serve and work with town staff to keep the town on track for the future.”…

Commissioner Sasser – “I want to thank Mayor Minnet for all the hard and successful work she did negotiating the Town Manager contract. I understand how difficult it can be negotiating knowing that final approval will come back to 4 other decision makers. The original draft came to us with all the key hot buttons addressed and I, for one, am grateful of the professional manner in which this was handled.

I also want to thank the Town Manager for her partnership. I do not use the word “partnership” lightly. I feel she has given on several points that she ordinarily would not have agreed to in order to overcome our concerns from past experience. We are rebounding from a bad relationship and Connie has been very understanding and committed. I also want to thank her for her patience, particularly with me, during this process. Sometimes negotiating can cause friction but her professionalism has constantly shined through. That is, unless she’s mad at me.

The end result is that we have a very experienced Town Manager that is committed to us. That chose us as much as we chose her. We have an arduous road ahead of us with many things to accomplish. This years’ budget is the first step. I thank Connie and staff for meeting the Commission expectation of keeping millage rates the same this year when our revenues are down over a million dollars.

It is now time to look to the future. We must stay committed to getting a clear and concise plan. This starts with direction from this dais. It will take commitment, focus, clear communication and teamwork. I am ready to join the team to my left and right to jump start then jet fuel this endeavor into the future. I personally feel this starts with some minor revisions to our Master Plan and will be adding this to our next Roundtable meeting. I look forward to working with my partners up here and you to ensure the viability of our town for ours and future generations.”…

Mayo Minnet stated she didn’t know if she could follow that…all had done a great job…She said what a difference two years make …and said she may have been the liaison for the Town Manager agreement but it was the TAtty. who recommended all the Commissioners be involved …and she tanked Ms. Trevarthen for that  recommendation…She welcomed Connie officially and she also thanked everyone who participated in the budget during the meetings and everyone who spoke…She said again we are facing a huge sewer increase and what a fete it was to maintain the budget/millage and  being able to go ahead with the FDOT project…to be able to pull that off was something…She was looking now toward the future and sees it as positive…that included the Reef Project and the attorneys involved working together on that…

New Business was a bit disconnected and in need of being returned to the agenda…as we hear Comm. Sasser has done…This was his item and he stated he had spoken to P & Z Vice Chair Yann Brandt who wanted to review any changes in the parking requirement to help the business district… The TM stated the Comm. may recall they hired Walter Keller to look at this and make recommendations for the downtown area…..

BC- #1…please …please …no “you may recall” to the Comm….still brings a shudder to this writer as it was always a red flag that the former TM was not being forthcoming about whatever the item/subject was…

#2…Here is where the disconnect and the confusion began… It was thought that Walter Keller was to update the 2005 parking study dealing with spaces …before going out for RFP… Walter Keller still brings a shudder as well, due to prior to 2008 and his overbearing participation in the MPSC …when this writer witnessed him not allowing the committee to move forward…stating a “study” was needed first… It led to some major discontent as a result…As for P & Z much the same…

The TM  said there should be some discussion because the boards were feeling they were to “rubber stamp” issues and how did the Commission want to deal with this …Should it go the boards for input and then the Commission having that input from them….

The Mayor said she wanted to see it on a Roundtable…

The Vice Mayor stated he felt this went against what they just agreed to and that this was the first example of a sub-committee coming to the Commission to put something before the sub-committee (prev. post)… He said this was one of things he had been campaigning for…and he was 100% for it going to the P & Z and that they be provided the suitable backup… He also wanted to make sure the businesses already paying the req. allocated spaces were addressed and included in the equation…for the impact…and that is where he stood on this …but then he backed off to say if the Mayor wanted it to go the Roundtable first to give the board direction on it he was happy to go either way…

Comm. Sasser agreed with the VM that he was happy for it to go to the Roundtable first if she thought that was important……

The Mayor she did think it was important because it was going to RFP  and this was part of it…She was wrong and asked where she was wrong …Mr. Bentley provided some clarification and stated the parking regulations had been discussed a month or month and a half ago and Walter Keller was hired to do the study prior…to  the RFP for the parking operational study… adding there was some overlap…He stated he spoke to Keller and his element to the parking study should be given to the Town later in the week…

Comm. Clottey wanted to know about the income from 101 who she said is one of the ones that pays a significant amount of money and Bud said 101/Aruba & Benihana…and offered to pull the amount up this evening or email it the next day…The Mayor told him to bring it to the Roundtable..

Comm. Sasser said he would put it on the next Roundtable…but the Mayor said staff would do that…The VM made a motion for it to go the Roundtable but that was not necessary stated the Mayor…Comm. Sasser ended by stating he had heard from many people on this subject and it something were to delay it he would still like it to go the P & Z…

BC- The problem is…the October meetings are set to start with the one Comm. mtg/ one Roundtable a month…meaning the P & Z would not be able to start on this until Nov. since they meet the week prior to the Roundtable..I believe the Comm. Sasser /VM Dodd and the TM got it right…P & Z 1st then to Comm….

The next new business item was for an alternate for P & Z…it is VM Dodd’s pick to replace his appointee who declined…He asked for residents to apply…

The Comm. needed to approve hardship permits for condos…and after Asst. TC spoke about the night time parking applicants come in to address…there was much discussion on allowing overnight parking for hardship permit parking which is not currently allowed in the code per Asst. TM Bentley…

BC- Again, we are faced with falling down on the job… These hardship permits are for owners and renters of these properties and I have to believe that for all these years they have parked overnight with them…otherwise what good are they…I do not believe they were used for visitor parking…Hmmm…

Mr Bentley added this was the same situation they would find themselves in when the Wings hardship permits are enacted….( it’s a ways off Bentley acknowledged for Wings…currently to go to litigation…prev. post)… After more discussion the mayor made them aware they needed to do something and they voted to pass them…5-0

The final NB item was the garbage increase…which Mr.Bentley explained…it’s minor for single residential homes…and after he explained the situation and the numbers….receiving kudos for his calculations and finding the errors…Comm. Sasser asked if Choice would rectify a mailing that had the amount wrong…Bud felt it made more sense to ask them to include the clarification in the next bill to save on mailing cost…It passed 5-0…

The Town Manager stated her report was short due to finishing the budget the evening before…(a followup project list was received later by the Comm. although not in the online backup on the Town’s website as of the meeting)… She added the increase for parking from .50-$1 was for Poinciana as well as Bougainvilla…and she had nothing else to add…

Comm. Sasser asked about the payroll debacle and if the former Auditing firm should have caught this and if there was any liability…The TM said the TAtty. should look at the contract and come back …

BC- A Reader sent me this…on this topic…when I inquired …”I would definitely file a complaint with them to put them on notice. That is acct 101. Not worth trying to sue for reparation. Maybe complain to the partner in charge, ask for all the payroll work papers for the past five years. Ask for their audit plan for the same years; it will tell you if and how they planned to audit payroll. Ask for an explanation and ask who has done their peer review. If they are lame with a response then complain to the state licensing board and their peer review firm. Who knows how they might respond. But these types of questions will scare them I promise. Make sure the documents sent out with requests and complaints are available to for you to post but hold off until they have complete all their responses. You never know what they might offer. An accounting firms reputation is “ALL” they have to bank on and they would be loath to damage it.”…Sounds good to me…

The TAtty Report from Ms. Trevarthen was covering the questions on amendments..such as the Fl. proposition 4 developers vs. environmentalist which will be on the ballot and elected officials and Towns receiving questions on it…She stated Town funds could not be used to take a position for or against …A statute strips cities from the right to campaign…The municipalities can use funds for educational uses…and it’s quite rigorous…She also stated some towns adopt resolutions …but some do not… When asked about elected officials being asked their opinion she stated they still had 1st amendment rights …they cannot be gagged…it is to make sure public funds are not used …

The meeting was adjourned …

Meeting and backup archived on Town website ….link …. http://www.lauderdalebythesea-fl.gov/

more to come…

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