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Here’s The Scoop … Lauderdale-By-The-Sea August 25, 2010 Budget Workshop … Money In … Money Out ….

August 27, 2010 by Barbara

CAN WE PUT A CAP ON IT?….

Dear Readers … Wed. night the Commission came together for an August Budget Workshop to offer an opportunity for public comment and catch up after some delays imposed on the new administration due to changes within the Town with terminations and resignations …new hires and new disturbing “minefields” that met them at each juncture…

Up first was the return of the Community Theater which was tossed out in 2008 with a new majority on the dais…and a Town Manager that was only too happy to comply, or so it appeared in giving the theater group the heave-ho … After some false starts yet again over the funding ..would it be from the taxpayers and/or from the letter asking for donations which went out from this non-profit company before it came before the Commission?… Comm. Vincent did not do a steller job when championing it at that Roundtable and we the taxpayers were left to wonder what the dollar amount would be as he quoted in the neighborhood of $12,000 or more…The Int. TM said it was less… We hear some residents made phone calls to certain Commissioners after the exchange and stated no-way, no-how it should just be donations… This time the agreement which was included in the backup stated the cost to the Town will be approx. $1,000 to cover liability insurance which will be paid to the company after each of the 3 plays that are set …although the dates need to be double checked for any conflict in using Jarvis Hall…Mr. Ragusa came forward to answer question both the old re-hash of the theater groups demise…and new concerning accounting and the status of being up to date with the non-profit requirements from the state…Mr Ragusa answered he was up to date and could produce the paperwork and also he thought he had enough for each play although he did not know what each one would cost …Donations received were approx. $3,000 thus far …He is unable to pay for the liability ins. required and the Town would cover that with the $1,000 …The Vice Mayor stated he was really happy that with the change in the dais and the administration the residents and visitors may well get to experience local people engaging in local theater productions. He said he was sure Mr. Ragusa is aware of the heavy load placed on the use of this hall and that the town will do their best to ensure the theater group gets the necessary time to set up and rehearse….
Comm. Sasser asked about state statutes with the $1000 and non-profits …and the wanted to make sure we were covered …The TAtty. said she would review the agreement if they chose to go ahead…Ms. Hoffman stated she did not include that in the agreement because it was a small amount …Comm. Sasser responded the Town had problems in the past over $30…(Greenfest-prev. posts)…Comm. Sasser also addressed the accounting being done simply by using a spreadsheet ….Mr. Ragusa balked at that and said to do that last time meant hiring an accountant that charged him $2,000…He said he would turn his books over to the Town and they could do whatever they needed to… The Int. TM thought it would be easy to accommodate that… Comm. Clottey did make a comment stating it was 2 Commissions ago for the demise…not so…A look back shows that Commission tried for a years long agreement to stop any new Commission from pulling the plug …She also could not imagine the cost of an accountant being so high….The Mayor was concerned about the Town paying for liability insurance and that to do so would set a precedent and open the Town up to future similar requests … In the end the consensus was to move ahead to vote on at the 7 pm meeting…

Next up were the Sea Ranch Club sewer fees… and we understand a few SRC residents were in the hall… The Int. TM introduced her consultant, Ms Margoles  who provided the report (prev. post) and she came to the podium to answer any questions… Ms. Hoffmann added as she approached how complicated this whole issue is …that the more they find the more complicated it gets (prev posts) …Ms. Hoffman also stated the “struggled” with how to present it..and added the town has a fragmented sewer system …2 separate sewer rates …and spoke of the detailed report in the backup (link below)…This writer as previously posted, disagrees with Ms. Margoles on some of her facts and as VM Dodd stated from the podium, I too disagree with her to seek legal counsel to put SRC under the north’s agreement with Pompano Beach (higher rate …surcharge and availability per unit charges) which would most likely bring forth a litigation with the 4 SR annexed in condominiums in 1998…The Int. TM did bring forth before any discussion going to Pomp. Bch and getting a new townwide master sewer plan with them after more study ……Ms. Hoffman stated she had a “social lunch” with a Pompano Beach Administrator and did bring up the probability… She included that it is a given all sewer rates will need to be increase due to the south not paying passed on rate increases as well (prev. posts)…

VM Dodd stated …that the sewer situation is quite complex and he did not yet agree with the present staff recommendation of putting SRC with the north…. He went on to speak of the history …that in  1997 the four Sea Ranch buildings were annexed into town and they asked to pay the same rate as the residents at the south end of town. The main annexation for the north end in the year 2001 were covered by an agreement that they paid directly to Pompano Beach. He added that the south end of town enjoyed a large user agreement as a result of the 2007 agreement. The north end pays a higher rate because their infrastructure repairs and replacement is covered by Pompano whereas the south end enjoys a lower rate but no provision has been made to replace the pipes when they finally collapse. He stated that on top of this mess the residents of Sea Ranch and the annexation of the north has left both these groups of town residents out in the cold since neither was included in the master sewer plan agreement of 2007. His opinion was as we are to move forward the town has to re-evaluate and come up with a proposal to increase the sewer rate at the south End and include Sea Ranch so that money is put into a fund to cover the eventual replacement of the sewers. Additionally he directed the Town Manager to  enter negotiations with Pompano to bring everyone into the Master sewer plan since there is little point paying a 25% premium when the town has just spent 10 million putting in new sewers. He added to let the money remain in LBTS coffers rather than Pompano Beach. He would propose asking for further research to ensure Sea Ranch are not dumped into the agreement covering the north End and perhaps the manager can renegotiate a united town agreement that will take us forward for the next 20 years….Ms Margoles missed his point completely and reminded him of what he was well aware of …that the Town was paying for SRC when they paid Pompano Beach…UGH!…

Comm. Clottey stated it was worse than the VM said it was up north (the 2005 agreement) that made residents with new sewers pay PBeach an $800 hookup charge …She said that money went to new sewers in PBeach…She added that none of the present Commission had anything to do with that agreement (but her choice for a return to Hillsboro Inlet Commission, Oliver Parker to replace Dodd last year…sure did!)…She addressed through the chair the TAtty. and stated she personally did not think it was “fair” to assess SRC for the monies paid since 1998 but wanted to know if there was a legal responsibility for the Town to do just that…The TAtty. stated she had only made an innitial look into the situation…

Comm. Sasser stated there were a lot of questions and with the time constraints of this evening and the info still not known …the legalities and the agreements he thought the better way to handle this was to gather that information before asking the questions and he had plenty of questions as well…

Mayor Minnet agreed and asked him to get his questions to the Int. TM  …She said we need a better understanding before they can address it at a Commission meeting…

The Int. TM stated they “grappled” how far back to go and needed guidance from the dais…She added it won’t change anything…

The Mayor stated it was time to come together in an equitable way and move forward…

Comm. Sasser stated he wanted not to find blame but to find how those funds were allocated behind the scenes and the legalities involved with that…meaning in the former administrative actions not the SRC /SRLNorth /south customers… He stated it was in his opinion a “colossal mismanagement by this Town”…and wants everybody on the same agreement…

The VM agreed to go forward …and again stated his preference that any surcharge stayed in Town rather than going to Pompano Beach..

Comm. Clottey agreed to go forward and stated she had spoken to past Commissioners in Old Town (Parker/Furth?) who stated a bond was obtained for sewers there and assessed to the taxpayers…It was kept in place until approx. 2002 illegally and was taken off the books when challenged …This writer needs to check that claim out…She thought it was possible those were the funds used to pay for the difference……She asked the Int. TM to check that out …..This writer needs to check that claim out as well…

The Mayor said that would mean going back to the 1960’s!…Clottey said it stopped in 2002 …pre-annexation from 1998 with SRC and move forward was her direction to the Int. TM and make it equitable…

The Mayor added and asked the Int. TM and Ms. Margoles to concur that some information is simply not there…They concurred and Ms. Margoles held up a thick book of the report info thus far…She also thanked staff for their help…

Next was to be the FY2010-2011 budget…but Mayor Minnet asked that it be held to discuss the Chamber due to the funding being included in the budget and the decision of how much that will be needing to be decided…

The Chamber Board was in attendance after some back and forth meetings that took place formally and informally in the weeks prior along with the resignation from the board of Yann Brandt who was the Chamber liaison working with Comm. Sasser, the liaison for the Commission… The problem as this writer sees it from the information I have received is there are two distinct visions of the Chamber of Commerce/ Welcome Center ….One vision is the status quo…a small Chamber that operates with a full time administrator and a hand full of volunteers plus a full time employee for the Welcome Center and a part time employee …The lines between the Chamber and the Welcome Center become blurry at time and distinctly separate at times…and most of those times are when it comes to funds… for employees etc… The track that Mr. Brandt was on and was the same one seen by most of the Commission as well as past and present members and board members of the Chamber was to grow the Chamber to advertise more…increase membership …and hire a consultant to aid in the marketing over the long run…That “branding” being bandied about…last year by Comm. Clottey and others and this year by Comm. Vincent …It appears to this writer that the 27 year old Mr. Brandt brought back to the board what he said he would …and that may have caught some off guard with his accomplishment …The course proposed seemed overwhelming to some of those in charge and it sounds like they balked…Mr. Brandt who has limited time due to his career…his new appointment as P & Z Vice Chair …and of course becoming a new Dad resigned …In this writer’s opinion that was a huge loss for the Chamber…I can tell you first hand that in my experience with him, he has always delivered what he says he will…never exaggerates what that is …and not only has the ability to succeed …he has the contacts…the insight and resources to carry out any vision he is presented with…My concern with the “powers that be” inside the Chamber is the same as any other aging organization…the organizations and boards should not be afraid of new ideas …change and vision coming in with young people …They should be afraid only if no new blood comes in the doorto carry on …as they have one foot out of it!… The Chamber was concerned with too rapid of growth…overcrowding the small building…and the possibility of Ft. Lauderdale breathing down their necks if proposed changes were made…There is no way the growth was going to catapult them into any of these scenarios in year one… And a consultant could have prepared them for how to work with any such concerns…including a satellite office as suggested by a Reader (not former VM McIntee-prev. posts) to accommodate if need be…

The Chamber changed its need to separate the Welcome Center from the Chamber asking the Commission now to supply the added $20,000 for a full time Welcome Center employee …$10,000 would supply a part time employee …and no increase ($35,000 is an increase from the prior few years) would not supply either…But a break down shows the following…The front desk staff $12.00 per hour. $12.00 x 8 hours is $96.00/day or $35,040 annually for Veronica, (full time) and a former staff member’s replacement, (when they find one). Filling the part time position has become a problem for the Chamber. The Board of Directors believes they need to increase staffing to two full time people. This equates to 10 shifts per week instead of the current 7. ($96.00 per day x 10 shifts per week = $960 per week or $49,920 annually. They also feel the hourly rate might have to be increased if they want a higher quality individual who can take some of the work load off of Judy…The Chamber stated they as the Chamber would not be asking for anything…only for the Welcome Center which they have funded to cover any gaps of funding from the Town…Everything inside the Chamber remains the same and no consultant is needed or wanted…This writer has been told that a consultant should be hired by the Town directed by the Town for a business development plan that includes the Chambers input but not under the Chamber’s auspices …

As they came to the podium Comm. Sasser presented to the dais and the taxpayers what the Chamber ultimately was asking for the $55,000/$45,000/$35,000 scenarios described above …

Paul Novak the President of the Chamber stated Comm. Sasser had it correct from the last meeting they had (post Mr. Brandt) and spoke of the additional monies also adding to the ability to advertise as well (in the neighborhood of an additional $5,000 if a full time employee is hired)…This writer has been informed the Chambers advertising has dropped from pat years of $50,000…$20,000+ to approx. $2,000!…He too stated they needed to take much of the burden of of Judy ….

Diane Boutin from the Windjammer spoke not as a representative of the Chamber  of the importance of the Chamber and the dollars it and the Welcome Center bring in sales and real estate and stated the $55,000 was nothing in the scheme of an $11 million dollar Town budget …comparing the cost to 4th of July and other events…

Comm. Vincent thanked Comm. Sasser for his role and stated he couldn’t say it better than Ms. Boutin …adding hard economic times for Towns and again using his “branding” scenario …He summed up the status quo of $35,000 being  the equivalent of “going back square one” and $45,000 with a part time person not enough and a full time person with $55,000 the “catalyst” for moving forward…HUH?…

Comm. Clottey said the Mayor was correct at a past meeting stating we are the only ones supporting our Chamber (monetarily)…This writer is not so sure with that statement…Some others must be housed in Town owned buildings…etc…She stated the County should be more of a factor and bring down the Town’s contribution to the Welcome Center …She again brought up in town and out of town businesses…asking for the? time the percentage of members in the Chamber…she wants 50-50… Judy Swaggerty from the Chamber stated at the podium they ran the numbers a few weeks prior and it was 50-50 or 60/40 she was not sure…

Comm. Sasser asked for direction through the Mayor of what the Commission wanted..

Vice Mayor Dodd  stated he was disappointed that it appeared that  the chamber wants to maintain a status quo rather than move forward and become the marketing arm of the town. He said he  was prepared to authorize a payment of up to $55,000 if the chamber adopted a more aggressive marketing stance…but since they are happy with doing the same as last year then I believe in these times of financial restraint they too need to cut back …adding even the commission has chosen to forgo our raise so why shouldn’t the chamber if they only want to do what they did last year.. and add an employee  …he was having a problem with an increase…and wanted Broward County brought into the situation….He said he has always supported the chamber but am disappointed …and still did not have the realistic amounts ..

The Mayor asked the Int. TM for those actual fund amounts including the building …she understood they are two separate entities and was a proponent of both but spoke of the taxpayers funding it…wanting a plan presented…still…and of wanting to take it to the next level …asking for more information…and stating she was not ready to fund the $55,000…She thanked Comm. Sasser for this assistance …

Comm. Sasser spoke of the need for clarification he was hearing from some of the members of the dais on the financials again speaking of the new separation being asked for…just the Welcome Center…

Paul Novak clearly agitated said he did not know what they meant by a “higher level” and spoke of the problems stated above Ft. Lauderdale …the building size etc… He admonished the Mayor  and reminded her she had been in the position to know what happens in a Chamber from her time there on the board…(The Mayor was miffed at his hard hit)….He said Judy does the selling..and works hard…He enlisted resident and former Chamber board member Dick Clark to speak…stating he knows what’s what…

Dick Clark who we understand sat in on the first meeting with Mr. Brandt ..the Int. TM and Comm. Sasser was visibly uncomfortable and stated he should have watched from home …He said he was proud of the Chamber and gave some of his own professional history …he agreed with Comm. Vincent on the “branding” and the Chamber being a partner with the community …He states the visitor center is the only one on the beach and offered his time and help with a plan… It is our understanding he had many other ideas of how to move to that next level..but did not bring them to the podium this evening….

Comm. Vincent thanked Mr. Clark for volunteering his time  and asked Paul about the separation of the Chamber and Welcome Center adding it was valid to ask for the Town to reduce funds if Broward County funded some…Paul replied they cannot count on the County…

The Mayor was told by the Int. TM the cost budgeted was to be $18,000…but later corrected that to add the Town employees etc….so the total including them and the budgeted monies asked for would be approx. $86,000

Comm. Clottey asked why it was difficult to separate the two entities and costs…Judy answered it would be too time consuming to come up with the split of telephone…paper…staples and such…”a nightmare”… It seems to this writer if the funding goes through as separate funding to only the WC that will need to be the case for the next year’s audit…

The figures provided by the Int. TM made VM Dodd insist the County needs to be “kicking in” with funds…

Comm. Vincent did not understand his fellow dais members and broke it down …(as if they didn’t get it!)…adding it was to take the stress off of Judy…and if they closed down the Chamber the building would sit empty as it wouldn’t be rented for years…Quite a leap!…

The Mayor cut him off at the pass stating she wanted a business plan…still…and it was not too much to ask for…

Comm. Sasser said it was a conundrum and they clearly understood what the Chamber was asking for what they needed to decide was the number that would be given…

They agreed to decide after the millage and the budget presentation… (see below)…

The decision to keep the $55,000 or reduce it was again introduced and Comm. Sasser tied it all up with the commentary of the what the Chamber was asking for…and the desire for Broward County funds to lead to a deduction from the Town’s share…

The Mayor added now she was in favor of the $55,000 but done quarterly adding in the Broward deduction as a part of it if funds came in…

Comm. Vincent countered her requirement by stating this was an appropriation after asking if funding quarterly gave the Town to reserve the right not to fund it the reports were not done.. but he did agree with funding less if Broward funded…

Comm. Clottey said she was reserving her final decision until she sees a business plan and allocation …She added a personal statement that she did not want the Chamber to give public monies to a charity as a donation (as happened last Christmas)…

So it appeared the direction was to keep the line item for the Chamber …rather the Welcome Center? …at $55,000 until a business plan was received for a final decision next month… and the Town and/or the Chamber would enlist some funding for the full time employee from the County..

BC- after his win over Beverly Kennedy this week to run as the democratic candidate for another term Broward County Mayor Ken Keechl must know he needs to make something ongoing happen to try and fully fund the $55,000 as a separated out entity that sits inside the Town owned Chamber building….on an ongoing basis…After all Comm. Clottey stated he was interested in funding the Artificial Reef Project last month…Voters should call or e-mail him and other Broward County Commissioners to add their voice to the need for County funding…

On a personal note…it is the hope of this writer that the Town consider a business development plan that includes the next level of the Chamber of Commerce in whatever feasibility study we pursue as part of the strategic plan for the future of this Town and that Yann Brandt is a part of that committee…

Chamber/Welcome Center link … http://www.lbts.com/chamber.html

As far as FY2010-2011 budget the Int. TM went over the backup provided …(link below)…She spoke of what they needed to do to retain the 3.999 millage the Commission wants kept in place… At the end of the discussions the Acting Finance Director, Doug Haag said we need to find another $153,330 dollars to get there …The Int. TM injected that figure stood only if the fire funds are legitimate as previously discussed (prev. post)….She covered the cuts in the cost of the auditor this next year …and having a portion for the fire department charged to the fire fund…The change in need for a Human Resources/Risk Management Manager (former HR Mgr. Kathy O’Brien’s position)…and that they were leaving $10,000 in for any consultant required …as well as the League of Cities cost of $2,000 for Risk management services …Town Topics was discussed and direction was given for 4 times a year…no more mailing…only at stores…Town buildings…Comm. Clottey stated she heard complaints about the last edition and the “glossy paper” being an extravagance..(Furths?)… Ms. Hoffmann said not so…and PIO D’Oliveira came to the podium as well to say no difference in the cost…Also direction came for Town e-alerts…(Include a Town Facebook as well) …Ms. Hoffmann spoke of the shift of funds from the Gen. Fund to the Fire fund …a new phone-I.T. system and new laptops for Commissioners to work with the new system…old ones would go to the Community Center…She touched on the agreeable interchanges with the VFD per President Ken Johnson and the cut in funding to $700,000 with the difference in an apparatus account…along with other contract changes such as percentage increases each year…all to be done after approval from the VFD members and re-negotiations…She spoke of the legalities in the funding of the beach patrol and EMS responses by VFD…She was incorrect in stating the VFD prevailed in instructing the Town it was allowable…That was done by Burton and Assoc. when inquired at last year’s fire assessment meeting… The gray area they touted was the VFD did not do medical procedures such as I.V.s …The beach patrol funds being in the Gen. Fund this year is confusing as Readers will remember the former TM being caught on this opened an account for paying that separately approx. 9 months after the fact at SunTrust (prev.post) and despite the fact that prev. VFD quarterly income/exp. reports (prev.VFD posts) showed the VFD was paying their members from fire assessment funds…On the donations from charities direction was given to have them show up and ask at the first meeting in Sept. as is customary…The Performing Arts was agreed to…and the TAtty. will proceed with what came up in the prior discussion…Comm Sasser had various questions on franchise fees and they were answered as a loss from people dealing in an ailing economy as well as legalities preventing any increase on the part of the Town…The improvements to the AC for the public safety building was accepted… The VFD was brought up once more… Rather funny that Comm. Clottey stated the cost was still too high without apparatus.(Hmmm…Furth-fed-led fallen out of favor w/ VFD?) …She directed a question of the contract being in place to the TAtty…. but the Mayor countered that for now both were at the table to possibly re-negotiate…On the subject of recreation the initial response was not to have a consultant (Ms. Margoles?) to help with the process behind the scenes as it was always done by volunteers… But 2010 Halloween Chair, Comm. Sasser disagreed and felt it would absolutely aid in the event’s volunteers to concentrate on the events… and was all for it..

BC- after the Greenfest fiasco…and the Furth’s packing up all the decorations for Easter and Halloween rather than donating them to the Town…Comm. Sasser is right on target… especially with Ms. Hoffmann’s ability to hire consultants and keep the budget in line as witnessed thus far…

The ending was as described above the dollars needed to keep the millage…and with 10 minutes left they began the Town Manager Application Workshop…and then decided after Comm. Clottey stated there was not enough time to discuss it…to move it to the meeting at 7 pm…(prev. post on the selection)…

The next Budget Meeting is on Sept. 14th…

Link to backup…http://www.lauderdalebythesea-fl.gov/town/backup2010WORK.htm

Link to meeting… http://lbts.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2

more to come…

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