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Here’s The Scoop … The May 10, 2011 Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Roundtable Meeting … That’s A Big “No” On Referendum Items Being On The Ballot In 2012 & Alot Of Malarkey For Paying Off The Parking Debt ASAP … #1…

May 10, 2011 by Barbara

IT’S “PREMATURE” FOR VOTERS TO DECIDE ON LBTS REDEVELOPMENT FUNDING IN 2012 …

Dear Readers …this will be really interesting to see what the voters in the south and Sea Ranch Club do at the next LBTS Municipal election …Will they believe that “big ticket” redevelopment projects will not be approved by the same dais members right after the election now that two out of three of those possibly seeking re-election made the decision it is “premature” for the voters to do so … Three members of the audience came to speak against it …BTSFuture Editor Mark Brown, Edmund Malkoon and Ron Piersante… Mark Brown doesn’t want them on saying it makes it becomes “political” ….”don’t dump it on the public” that they “trust” this commission to make the “tough decisions”…”vote it up or down” …”don’t waste time and money “…….  Ron Piersante facetiously added to put the police and the sewers on a referendum as well …further adding it is for the Commission to make these decisions…He asked “Do you think they would pass?”….”What happens if they all vote no? ….The Mayor read a prepared speech stating the same criteria of making these hard decisions as what she ran on and why she was elected… That’s not how I recall it at all and that’s certainly not this writer’s opinion! … The mantra was they do not know the costs (all three undergrounding El Mar Dr./Town Hall Complex & Plaza/Parking Garage(s)will be over 10 million each ) and besides they all said they do not believe these items will happen for at least 5-10 years … WHAT! ….If that’s so why are we spending all this time and all this money for costs and designs this year?… That time frame would would mean the Town’s Master Plan would be up for revision once (or twice) again…and that begs for the answer once more from this writer…just who directed this full-scale redevelopment plan instead of a simple revision especially if the majority at the table tonight are being honest about the reason not to have these referendum items on the next ballot?… One more surprise came when the Town Manager stated she is getting costs of undergrounding from other municipalities and asked the Mayor and Commission if they wanted  rough estimates or to spend approximately $7,500 on FPL giving us accurate costs… HUH?… The direction from this Commission was given some months back for an RFP to go out …(it should have been out already) … This should have been done at the beginning …Comm. Sasser asked for ballpark figures and spoke of the costs of studies and RFPs just to find out the costs…His comments fell on deaf ears….The referendum is dead now unless a PAC picks it up and gets a petition going to put it on …That would be the CIC and it remains to be seen if they even have enough members and/or the drive to carry it out….Now we’ll have to see how many other voters wanted to have a say in what happens after the January 2012 election by who will be sitting on the dais when the votes are counted…. The results of this election will speak volumes in just how quickly that 5-10 year plan for these three items become the #1 priority to carry out!….Kudos to Vice Mayor Dodd who tried very hard to remind all about the timetable required to have these items on … as well as his history of wanting the voters to decide such major issues as they have in the past…after all it is the voters..the taxpayers who pay for it…. in the end…

………………

PARKING DEBT …. NO ACTION ….

The Parking Debt for the parking lot will not be addressed until September and budget time…

‘The payoff amount of the loan is as follows
$1,396,965.27 Principal
112,223 Pre-payment fee
4904.90 Interest
$1,514,094.07 Total’

The majority on the dais Mayor Minnet…Commissioner Vincent and Commissioner Clottey believe we should keep this loan on the books coming up with reasons this writer finds to be a bunch a malarkey… The Mayor started by  saying it’s self funding and we will need the money that could pay it off for other capital improvements… Commissioner Vincent who has become increasingly annoying with his pot shots at VM Dodd and his all over the place agreeing with one commissioner only to say he did not say he agreed  a moment later… as he held onto the belief we would have trouble getting another loan and there is no need to expedite this…Commissioner Clottey said while she agrees with Comm. Sasser on paying the loan down  …we need the money because we are a “hurricane prone area”…Perhaps she forgot the emergency fund that is well above what we need and that FEMA will come in after that… Any bigger catastrophe from a hurricane …there cannot be enough reserves to cover…Funny to watch Mayor Minnet agree with Clottey on this one… She went on to speak of something breaking and not having the money…VM Dodd tried to ask  Finance Director Doug Haag what he would do if this was his own loan to pay off or not… The answer came back as this is a “liquidity” issue…and borrowing from Comm. Sasser who earlier stated while addressing the referendum issue “I agree with of you and none of you” on the points made to pay or not pay off the loan and said we might need these funds for capital improvements… To go for a loan later we were told by the TM and Finance Director would leave us open to not knowing what the rates will be in the future ….We do know the rate now on the one we have and it’s 3.95% which is well above market for the time we are in.as the Finance Director included in his backup …..Comm. Sasser tried as well to talk about not having to pay interest and having more money in the General Fund… yet again he was met with less than plausible reasons for holding on to it … in my opinion… The lowest point for this writer was watching the old Colon-era shenanigans of acting as if we have no money in the coffer … until the TM made it clear they were only referring to the “undesignated” General Funds… Comm. Sasser pointed out as well how flush we are with funds… The Mayor again spoke of waiting until budget time to make sure we have money for projects… She also took Comm. Clottey’s point made at the previous Commission meeting about paying off a portion of the debt and perhaps having no penalty attached… Comm. Clottey surprisingly remained mum on the subject… Comm. Clottey did ask the TM how having this debt or paying it off affected our bond rating…The TM said we don’t have a bond rating…When the VM said to continue to push on the penalty charges with Sun Trust Comm. Vincent snapped at him once again… Between the bad jokes and the bad behavior it’s definitely bad form on his part …. The TM after Mayor Minnet picked up where both the Vice Mayor and Comm. Sasser left off on dealing with the penalty costs and said the Town could continue to negotiate the pre-payment penalty with SunTrust between now and Sept. was first told by TM Hoffmann they would negotiate when they knew what they were going to do… but then seemed to back away from that statement…

more to come….

Post Division

Here’s The Scoop … The April 27,2011 Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Commission Meeting … The April Town Manager Report … Sugar Coated With A Wrench Thrown In The Mix …

May 1, 2011 by Barbara

SOME THINGS ARE HARD TO SWALLOW ….

Dear Readers … the Town Manager monthly report was moved up in the agenda …It was moved to the end after the new Commission took over …Over the last 4 months though the TM continuously took take a pass along with the Commission on discussing the content due to the late hour placement …Unfortunately this earlier placement did not fix that ongoing problem after the Commission went off the reservation following a question asked by Comm. Sasser after the TM spoke about the first item in her report concerning the BSO contract negotiations…

The Town Manager began her report after the Mid-Year Budget Report (see prev. post) …and she would “run through these items really quickly.”… She stated she knew everybody was most interested in the BSO negotiations and proceeded to describe having the first meeting with the BSO (and the  “Interim” Finance Director according to the backup) … She went through what was contained in the backup explaining “The BSO is going to a very standardized contract with all the cities they renegotiate with.” …She went on to say she agrees with this type of contract as do most city managers which she further explained stops what had happened in the past when “people were basically looking at other people’s contracts and saying I want that, I don’t want this.”…She said it made alot more sense ….adding it is much more transparent contract where we know what is the costs to provide police services in your town and that is what BSO is charging you… She said they identified what services are considered regional and should not be charged to the contract cities and so far the County has agreed to that…She anticipated questioning of why the County is involved and informed all that it is the County that funds the Sheriff’s office ( The Sheriff’s audit was given to the County Comm. last month) …The County has been approving contracts like ours …TM Hoffmann stated she had suggested some changes to the contract but did not expand on what those changes were and was never asked by the Commission throughout their discussion to address those changes that the TM stated would be brought back with a formal response at the next meeting to take place this week …In the backup the TM wrote they had ‘informal agreement on most of those suggestions’….After that TM Hoffmann said the big question was what will it cost and she did not give a figure (again, we have been told it would be around $500,000+) but said that figure was promised “or at least what they are going to propose as the cost to continue services at the same level” …BSO Chief Llerena came to the podium to state it was slated to be released on May 1st for all municipalities after the County and the Sheriff get together on the proposed budget…The Mayor asked him to remain at the podium to answer any further questions… The TM went on to state that she would take a look at the numbers and that they had talked about a line item budget which was not received in the past negotiations…She did make a point to say that the Chief had been sharing such a report with her on a monthly basis…as well as to state “I have to say I have sat in negotiations with BSO on municipal contracts in another city in the past and it has been such a pleasure. Things have changed dramatically in the way BSO sits down and negotiates. It’s very transparent and it’s very friendly.”…She said she would be back with the numbers after she looks at them and then they will see how they it fits into the new budget… TM Hoffmann said the BSO is only interested in recouping their direct costs from the cities they contract with and if a city determines that cost is not affordable then the city sits down with the BSO to talk about adjustments in staffing in order to reduce the costs… She stated those are discussions the Commission/Administration will be having at a policy level as they go through the budget process…

BC-This is when the proverbial wrench came in and started to turn the nuts and bolts of this LBTS-BSO re-negotiation for the new contract slated according to the TM report backup to be completed no later than June 30th counter clockwise …

Comm. Sasser started out with a joke as BSO Chief Oscar Llerena stood at the podium ..”I first wanted to dispel the rumor we were trading Lt. Cedeno with one one of the police women of Broward County!”… It received a warm chuckle from all…and this writer wishes Comm. Sasser would have left it at that…He went on to ask the Town Manager a question he said he had been asked …”Are we not getting any other bids other than negotiating with BSO?”… The TM responded she “has no direction to do so.”… There was an uncomfortably long silence that followed that response and for some reason the TM chose to fill it… in my opinion …. as the nuts and bolts began to loosen … “If the Commission chooses to send me down that course we can do that.”…She continued on to inform them that if they were thinking of going to contract with Fort Lauderdale or Pompano Beach (PB is BSO so that leaves Fort Lauderdale) the Sheriff has to approve it because he would have to deputize the new police officers to work outside their municipality  (I do not recall that from the current contract or addendum) …as she added “Then there is obviously another option to form our own police department.”…She reiterated her direction thus far was to negotiate with BSO…

BC- The wrench…the nuts and the bolts…. We had many such discussions about other options prior to the 2010 LBTS Municipal election and this writer posted all of it… The highest priority this writer and the candidates heard out on the campaign trail after former Town Manager Colon and her contract was to retain the BSO police in LBTS!…  To go down this road at this juncture is mind boggling to say the least …

Commissioner Sasser stated again he just wanted to “get it out there”…and he said he would leave it to the Mayor on how “handle that”… He said “If everyone is ok whatever”…reiterating it was a question he gets and was sure other Commissioners had been asked as well.. From there he asked about the “writeup” and as they look at the budget each or use it as a budget item he wondered if they cannot afford it would they have the right to terminate at that point and asked about our rights… The TM there would be no agreement on a budget or the Town determines costs to be too expensive…confirming the contract provides us the option not to proceed and the notice time was not long to get out of it… Comm. Sasser said his concern was if we enacted the termination would we still have time under old costs to find another solution…The Town Manager said the contract anticipates that kind of situation and the Sheriff in the contract affirms he will provide services for as long as it takes the Town to start with a new provider or own force… Comm. Sasser asked it that would be under the new or old price … TM Hoffmann said it would be negotiated…

BC- From what I remember the contract says a price will be negotiated I believe month to month and the Sheriff will stay on until he is sure they are leaving us with the same level of service they provide…I also believe that would mean we are going to pay two police departments…. for an uncertain length of time…Also I recall that we found out after a long period of being led to believe we own all the police vehicles that we only own one or two…Add to that the equipment we supplied at the time BSO took over will be given back to the Town but I do not think the contract states it needs to be anything other than what they started out with all those years ago…not any new equipment replacements…

Vice Mayor Dodd was up next and he thanked the TM for “an absolutely terrific report”…and said he appreciated how much work goes into it… This writer will delve more into that report and must respectfully disagree with the VM) … He went on to say he questioned the regional services portion of the contract saying he could see “the thin end of the wedge here” for our town as he went on to describe the costs for the call center (911) and other such services which will now split off just like airlines who charge for bag service …The TM said that absolutely is going to happen and we’ve been put on notice from the County that they will no longer fund cities receiving emergency call service…She said the Sheriff doesn’t agree with it and the Town as well as as all municipalities in Broward County in the same situation do not agree …She said the County Manager sent out letters to every city saying this is what your costs will be next year and ours is around $125,000…She said  the Broward City Managers Assoc. put together a task force last fall and studied this issue of the call centers and concluded they should be consolidated down to four that can serve the entire county leading to a substantial savings… While that was the conclusion she added no one is pushing for it…She said the Mayor sent her a copy of a letter from the Mayor of Sunrise to have the Broward League of Cities take this issue on …The VM asked “So we can expect some increases coming down the line?”… The TM responded that starting Oct. 1st we can expect to be charged $125,000 for emergency call services …adding that’s not a BSO charge that it’s a County charge …VM Dodd asked if we are “Obliged to go with that call service “..asking if there other options for municipalities… The TM responded yes and many cities have there own call centers which led to the problem and why the County doesn’t want to keep doing it after those cities complained about those contracted with BSO receiving the services…She mentioned Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood as two that run their own at huge cost and went to the County about LBTS and Pompano Beach… VM Dodd asked if we could go to Fort Lauderdale to see if we could do it for less than $125,000 …The TM said yes…VM Dodd said we should do so and send Broward a message …The TM backed off a little and asked Chief Llerena about Pompano Beach having their own call center …He responded that BSO communications is used for both and that Pompano Beach has BSO for police services ..The TM asked if cities are paying the capital costs and BSO is paying for the staffing…The Chief did not know …The Town Manager said if the Commission wanted her to look into this they would and also explore consolidating the centers as well..

The Mayor asked the TAtty. to give the history of the County’s past stance on wanting to provide this service and that it was not to charge the municipalities …She added she knew she was catching the TAtty. off guard…Town Atty. Trevarthen responded she didn’t have the details but had the same recollection ….The Mayor went to say  these are fees we pay through Broward County and that everyone should call their Broward County elected officials which for us would be Comm. Chip LaMarca to say we are not for this change…adding the Sheriff is not for it either …She went on to say that before she recognized Comms. Clottey and Vincent she wanted to “follow up Commissioner Sasser’s discussion that would would take us in a whole other direction. He had asked a question does this Commission and we had not discussed this prior, we asked the Town Manager to go into negotiations with the Sheriff.That was then direction you received from this Commission is that correct”…asking the TM…The TM replied yes and that was what she has on her priority list…The Mayor reiterated it and TM Hoffmann said yes again…The Mayor went to say “Are we changing our mind? I think that’s what we need to determine right now because if we do we need to, I think have a workshop so that we understand what direction we’re going in. Are we going to change direction and therefore go out and try and contract with another municipality or start our, if it is the intention of this Commission to look for, get an RFP out to the city of Fort Lauderdale or start our own police department. I think before we continue we need to hear what this Commission’s decision is”… She threw it over to Comm. Sasser who she said made the initial  “request”  asking him if he wanted to request a workshop to discuss those three measures…

BC- Before Comm. Sasser’s response this writer asks the all important question…What happened to the Mayor showing some leadership and nipping this in the bud by stating the obvious that this is not the right direction to go in… That avenue was open to her when Comm. Sasser originally ended his first bite at the apple and said he would leave it for her to “handle that”…

Comm. Sasser said he would like a workshop to discuss it “sure”..He added he thought it should be “vetted”…He went on to say he thinks in any situation or negotiation it’s always better to have competition and he would like to know what the options are and whether it is Fort Lauderdale or someone else …He quickly added “I’m not keen on building our own” police department but he “wanted to at least judge the interest of other police departments that could do the job and possibly help us with out negotiations, yes.”…

BC- I respectfully disagree with Comm. Sasser and do hope the prior Commission backup on other options is supplied to all to quickly be able to see it will …in this writer’s opinion…. not help the negotiations with BSO who are our Town Police Department in most of his constituent’s opinion …but just slow down the process unnecessarily …

The Mayor asked for consensus and threw it over to the Vice Mayor  if he wanted a workshop scheduled…  The VM said he just wanted the public to be aware of BSO taking one part of the new contract and saying that was what they are negotiating as their new price while Broward is going to be “saddling us with extra fees for an area that used to be part of BSO’s contract”…He added we don’t have alot of options …He wanted to be “on the record” for saying BSO is doing a terrific job and there are absolutely no complaints..But he added he has to be responsible to the taxpayers and try to “educate them how negotiations are going at the moment is that BSO will do policing but Broward has the regional component.”…The Mayor tried to cut him off… The VM continued saying he has “a big problem with it. We are paying a certain figure all encompassing but was sure BSO figure has not gone down with all the regional figures Broward is now providing. It’s a way of inflating every municipality and I’m pretty much against it.”…The Mayor said her question was if there should be a workshop for other options for police service in town… The Vice mayor responded “No, I’m very happy with BSO but we should look at other options for the stuff that BSO don’t want to do to send a message to Broward.”.. The Mayor said she agreed with him completely …

Comm. Vincent was asked next but said he had other comments and would wait his turn..

The Mayor acknowledged Comm. Clottey who said “I agree with Commissioner Sasser that we have an obligation to the taxpayers of this town to explore all avenues. I have my own personal choice. I wold like to stay with BSO but if they price themselves out of the market then we have to think about the taxpayers also.”…She then asked the Town Manager about the “lab fees” as part of the “regional stuff”…She was speaking of the criminal lab fees being passed on as well…(This too was brought up by the prior Comm. by former VM McIntee) …The TM said they had not talked about this and she did not recall  where that “sat on the list”..She would get the answer and asked Chief Llerena if he knew… The Chief responded no but added it is a major budget issue with the County Commissioners as well and “the Sheriff obviously feels it’s a terrible mistake to close the lab down.”..He said he was not sure where it stands as of now… Comm. Clottey asked what kind of additional fees there would be to BSO’s fixed charges…The TM asked if she was inquiring about BSO’s direct services…Comm. Clottey replied that up til now there was a fixed charge which is the County is now “unbundling” and said that when the TM is negotiating it will be that “flat rate plus whatever additional fees the Town is going to be stuck paying.”…The Town Manager again stated the only addition know right now is for the communications center …Comm. Clottey added the criminal lab fees to which the TM said that had not come down to her at this time for us to pay… we haven’t been told that and she reminded all that the Sheriff fought against it last year and prevailed …although it is not known if he will prevail again… She said they all need to consider as well that the Sheriff’s budget has to be approved by the County Commission..all agreements say the County has to approve them….

Comm. Vincent asked the Chief a question …”on the 125,000 additional fee is that proportionate charge that is figured for services for our town in respect to other sizes of cities?”… The Chief said he couldn’t definitively answer that but he could tell him that all cities are paying  different fees and it seems they may be based on population or maybe based on calls for service..He was not sure what criteria it is but did know there was not one set fee for every municipality… Comm. Vincent said that made sense and would like to know that information and was sure “Connie can get that.”… He went on to ask if the services we received prior to this change were a benefit this town was getting that other municipalities may have been paying for in the past… (This too was covered by the previous Commission and in the Sentinel ) … The Chief responded in terms of a “subsidy” there was one with LBTS saying it meant it cost more to operate the district than the Sheriff was collecting from us..He said unlike the private sector those costs were passed on to the County taxpayers which was why the County Commission started cracking down on the Sheriff to organize the new contracts making them more balanced…He said it was due to prior administrations ..He added that other municipalities have monetary issues..LBTS does not an has paid “every penny they were obligated to. The issue is just the balance of revenue post expenditures.”… Comm. Vincent said “There’ve been some inequities at some time with different municipalities for those services basically.”…The Chief said yes…

The Mayor asked again for the need to “clarify the direction to the Town Manager because we’re entering budget time. If we look at getting out RFPs …so we need to…There’s been a recommendation by Commissioner Sasser to put a workshop together to see what other opportunities we have for police services her in the town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.” …

BC- It was the Mayor who first said said they needed a workshop (see above) …

The Mayor said to the VM that he said “the workshop would be more to an understanding of the costs that Broward County is now adding on, would that workshop be also to determine whether we would look to our own police department or other services as well”… The VM said no he didn’t want to go in that direction and reiterated wanting inform the public of the add ons coming from the County with more to come such for any extra services provided over and beyond local protection provided by BSO although he would be happy to have a workshop to talk about that and try and put pressure on Broward “… The Mayor said they could put together a resolution as Sunrise has to let the County Commission know our displeasure and discuss it at a workshop “along with what Commissioner Sasser wants to do”…saying they should set the meeting up…

Comm. Vincent wanted to weigh in again and said “I’m just thinking back in recent history that I appreciate what Pompano Beach did for us as they went out and looked into and investigated the possibility of either going to another municipality, another department, I’m sorry I think starting their own and they spent alot on that in the millions I believe and it just panned out and they’re a bigger city than we are with alot more money and they didn’t think it would be financially sound for them to do that especially at this time and I believe they put a stop to that and continued to contract with services of BSO. So with that and Pompano doing the homework for us to go down that road at this time so I’m not in favor of the Roundtable discussion”… The Mayor informed him it was for a workshop to discuss giving the TM direction … True to form for Comm. Vincent he then said the following “Correct, unless there are some issues that we need to address within the contract if we can do so legally have a separation from other cities so yeah, I mean, I think we need to look at that.”…

Comm. Clottey said she believed Pompano Beach found they would save alot of money (she is correct) and that it was the people that did not want the city to change from BSO (correct again) ….She again stated her preference for BSO (quite a turn around after everything she said about them early in her term..prev. posts 2008-2009) … But she still thought they needed to consider other options because she understood we would be paying $434,000 more due to not paying our “fair share”… She asked the TM to respond…TM Hoffmann said there was a study done and LBTS was the most subsidized city ion Broward County and the cost increase would be “$400 and something thousand dollars a year”…

Comm. Vincent never knowing when to remain silent addressed Comm. Clottey to say he believed Pompano’s conclusion was the start-up costs for their own department would take 7 years to “break even with the initial startup and the savings on that and the setup on that was so high that would come out of pocket for that I don’t think this town could afford it.”…

The Mayor said it “sounds like a workshop “..as well as “what level the County will charge us”…. “plus the other options” thanking Comm. Sasser… The TM said the Commission had a light Roundtable scheduled and they could have the discussion then…It was agreed upon to have it at that time…

BC- this writer chalks this up to too many meetings on the Master Plan and the Master Plan redo taking all of the members up on the dais way off track on the priorities they were elected to address over the first 2 years of the new majority’s term and the priorities they started out with in 2010 and gave direction to the Town Manager to go forward with… The BSO contract was at the top with the drainage downtown and the drainage in the residential areas  as well as the sewers in the south … For certain Commissioners and members of the staff to speak of money woes when it comes to retaining the BSO police is unacceptable!… We were under the impression that a new contract could be a million + and still the overwhelming response from voters was keep them…Now we know it will be nowhere near that amount… To question our ability when we have spent well over $150,000 which most likely will be close to $200,000 on consultants is embarrassing… The Town Manager made it clear the regional costs will be coming our way no matter who we use for public safety in LBTS… Last but not least as the TM has stated along with this writer and so many others …the BSO of LBTS is our own Town police department under Chief Llerena and Lt. Cedeno (as it was under former Chief Scott Gooding) and that final point along with remembering it was not so long ago each Commissioner and the TM went on the offensive to keep Lt. Cedeno here in order to maintain the unique partnership we have with BSO!…

My opinion, Commissioners… at the next Roundtable ….. with the expected discussion taking place…do your homework ahead of time and then drop any direction at this time to look elsewhere and choose to work with the Sheriff to counter the County Commission’s regional fee plans along with other municipalities… To the TM and the Mayor there are times when it is time to step in on topics on the dais…this was one of them….

After that the Mayor asked for any other questions for the TM…Comm. Sasser was the only one to respond and asked about the Coral Reef project that was written up to start in late April as they were now just a few days away from May… The TM said she included they told the permitting agency they “hoped” to start in late April and had indicated it would be “in place” in late May…With that the TM report was passed 5-0 after a motion was made by VM Dodd and seconded by Comm. Vincent…

BC- here is what was not discussed in the report… The very next item in the report after BSO stated the TM had hire yet another consultant..This time it is the former Davie City Manager, Gary Shimun who was recently fired by the Commission of Davie and walked out before the full vote was completed…Mr Shimun according to Google searches eerily mirrored our ousted former TM Colon in the reasons for his dismissal …. in this writer’s opinion…. and walked away with a severance package after 4 years that mirrored it as well… According to the backup he will receive $6,500 dollars for one month’s worth of work to “develop a new building permit fee schedule” to use for an RFP for building services… TM Hoffmann vetted Mr Shimun for the Pompano Beach Manager position according to articles … I’m all for hiring and thinking outside the box for certain jobs but come on…why wouldn’t we look online at what smaller towns of similar size charge (I believe this was done not long ago by the previous Commission) as well as taking advantage of the many retired residents we have in out small town who could volunteer to do the same in far less time for far less money… That’s why we are known as a Town and not as a City… small town ways … MIA in the report an update of the consultant costs to date as well as listing what they have done and are doing at the present time…

Up next and not addressed was the Finance Director “Recruitment” which the TM said was advertised online at the Florida League of Cities in their “Datagram”..This writer repeatedly looked due to it being a bone of contention with the prev. TM not using it for positions…I never saw it online…A Google only produced the 2007 LBTS  position (I have seen one before)..A search on the FLOCiities site produced “no data” …The TM wrote in her report the starting salary of $80,000-$90,000 was a “fairly strenuous process” they used including multiple tests and lengthy interview to narrow the field o qualified applicants to two…One did not pass and the other did not want to move from Ohio… The Town Auditor and Doug Haag assisted Ms. Hoffmann and offered the opinion that our salary range is to low and “hindering” the ability to recruit “stronger candidates”… The suggested increasing it to $100,000 to “attract the caliber of person”  she wants to hire..She said the position was budgeted for $85,000 based on the former Dir. (King) but that the Town’s salary range for that position is $82,028-$123,044 and that former Finance Director Colon was earning $104,576 before she became TM …TM Hoffmann reiterated that she was eliminating one position in the department of a recent employee that resigned and would reassign that work to 2 part-time employees thus freeing up “some savings that can be used to offer a higher starting salary to the Director.”…She stated unless the Comm. objected she would go ahead and re advertise…There was no discussion and no direction given at this meeting…

Next item not discussed was he attached Cash & Investment Quarterly Report which ended on March 31st …In it she informed them that another $1.5 million had been moved into 20 month CDs ($1 million  in one CD/$500,00 in a second CD) “at BB&T Bank at an interest rate 3x higher than we were receiving at Sun Trust …(THe Manager of BB & T Bank is the new LBTS Chamber of Commerce President) …The attached showed it was at 75 basis points  (.75%) … The good news is they can be liquidated all or part for any reason with only the loss of interest not principal…This is what an Avid Reader was  talking to me about in terms of getting rid of the $1.4or $1.5 million parking lot debt we have that will cost us an additional $200,000+ if we do not pay it off… What is the difference in what we get for this latest move of Town monies as compared to keeping that loan on the books until 2020?…. (prev. post)…

After that item was the code inspection and the shut down of the Little Inn Too on April 18th…Again no discussion… save kudos to the VFD Chief and Town Fire Marshall from Comm. Vincent at the VFD monthly report earlier in the evening (prev. post) …

The TM stated she had brought the assignment status list to date and color coded it (perhaps this was what the VM was giving high marks to?)…

I believe that the Commissioners are all (with one exception?) meeting with the Town Manager before every scheduled Roundtable/Commission meeting and may be going over all these items on the report and more… At least that is my hope… If so I suggest that at Commissioner comments the dais members take that time to address any discussion and give their take on it as well as anything they do for constituents in the time between meetings…  That way we will all know in a condensed amount of time who has done their homework and who has served their constituents leaving no doubt that both the Commission and the Administration is in sync so direction or a lack thereof is not seen on the dais at the 11th hour as we saw at this meeting under the Town Manager’s report…

More to come….

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Here’s The Scoop …The April 27, 2011 Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Commission Meeting … Looking At A Mid-Year Budget “Holistically” … #2 …

April 29, 2011 by Barbara

“THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT THE BUDGET’S PRETTY MUCH RIGHT ON TARGET WHEN YOU LOOK AT IT HOLISTICALLY” ..TM Connie Hoffmann 4/27/11

‘The word “holistic” is identified as meaning looking at something as a whole, rather than in separate parts’

Dear Readers …the mid-year budget report was made with a power-point presentation by soon to be former Acting Finance Director Doug Haag …(more about this in the TM monthly report  in the next post )…  The Commissioners and the residents were not privy to the report prior to this presentation due to the report being finished the afternoon of this meeting according to TM Hoffmann…This writer was surprised VM Dodd did not take issue with that and cannot fathom why after being given a choice of the regular presentation Haag said would take 30 minutes to present chose the 10 minute abbreviated version only to approve it without having the time to look through it thoroughly… It should have been accepted and the approval should have been tabled until they had the time to see whether they approved it or not… The motion to approve was made by the VM and seconded by Comm.Clottey…It passed 5-0 … Mr Haag after reiterating what the Town Manager said about not finishing until that afternoon and offering up the choice of versions …was advised by the TM to do the condensed version and if anyone had any questions it would be expanded on..which occurred … Mr Haag started with the General Fund Summary and said everything seems to be on track …He spoke of the revenues for communications tax being $30,000 lower than it should be and it would be looked into…He stated revenues for building permits being $19,000 down as well while miscellaneous revenues are up $5,000 due to lien search fees and insurance refunds…The General Fund expenditures “should be $100,000 below budget barring anything unforeseen issues between now and Sept. 30th”..The Power-point stated “Which will more than offset the projected revenue shortfall … The Parking Transfer Fund is running pretty tight according to Haag and he said they would talk transfer from Parking Fund to the General Fund later or could stop and address it..The TM spoke about the ad valorem and the record number of appeals on properties …They just now received 2009 figures from the property appraiser which amounted to $84,000 deducted from our ad valorem taxes this year and late last year and they are now doing the 2010 appeals which will amount to more deductions to come for what we can collect…She went on  state the Town is allowed to only budget to 95% on potential revenues and that is what keeps us from experiencing a problem when those appeals are granted… Mr. Haag stated that General Fund revenues were just about the same this year as last at the mid-year point 73% this yr vs 75% last year… The total General Fund budget is about $10.1 million … He asked for any questions on the General Fund and received no response from the Commission…

The Police Forfeiture Fund had some good news in picking up an additional $9,600 and has a budgeted amount of $37,000 of which the Chief  will be requesting $28,900 per New Business agenda item 17a  for 2 security cameras and a traffic citation writing machine …He added in summary the LETF has a $200,000 balance right now…

The Sewer Fund Mr Haag stated “This gets a little bit more complicated. It’s been a big discussion for several months”…He went on to say “where we stand  at this point …at the mid point of the year is at the break even point”…He said it was due to the $81,400 credit issued from Pompano Beach to the Town for the SRClub mistakes (SRClub was charged from the time it was finished with construction as a commercial property rather than a residential one…statute of limitations only allowed the Town to recoup 4 yrs. or billing errors and the Comm. previously voted to retain that credit due to the Town paying over and beyond what the actual charges should have been to SRC for many years due to a behind the doors decision made by a select few that came to light with this new administration/commission..prev. posts)… He continued on to say from a revenue standpoint we are just now starting to see the impact of the rate increase passed and collections that began with the March 2011 billing..monitoring that increase will continue going forward…He also stated we no longer have revenues from SRC as part of the revenue stream ..(VM Dodd spoke about this later on…I believe Mr Haag’s point was that interest we may have received for however long the Town held onto the SRC monies after Fort Lauderdale dispersed them to the Town before the Town turned them plus whatever additional monies were added to pay the Pompano Beach bill)… He went on to say on the expenditure side that $81,400 credit was reflected as an expenditure because it was credited to our Master Sewer acct. with Pompano Beach….He added that the Commission made the decision that SRC would now be billed directly from Pompano Beach …(should have begun this month) …He said the increase in the Master Sewer rate came in as projected and added that the TM and Asst. TM were “pretty prophetic” in what they planned for 15% as the fixed charge came in at 13% /volume charge 14%… He said the “Good news” was “all things taken into consideration in terms of the eventual impact of rate increase revenues still should exceed budget”…He said that should meet the Commissioners goal to build or rebuild some of those reserves for future capital repairs and /or replacement…The Town Manager chimed in to say the reason the revenue will exceed budget is due to last summers decision to budget a small amount to come in from the rate increase as well as the Commissions decision to do the rate increase “in one fell swoop” …She said we will see more revenue and that will build up the reserve to do repairs and replacement ..No dollar amount was shown or asked about as well as no discussion on where we are as far as knowing the full extent of  what will be required and when .. (such as full replacement of sewers and/or relining existing sewers…something that this writer thinks was lost due to the Master Plan revision morphing into a full-out redevelopment of the Town…far more than preserving and enhancing) …

The Fire Fund Mr Haag said was also tracking close to what it had the previous year  with 86.2% this yr vs 87% last year in revenues… The expenditures are below budget because they have not made any transfers yet for vehicle /equipment reserve (power-point said they are budgeted at $47,000) but 50% of it will be done in April (this meeting was held on April 27th) with the remainder in late summer which is typical…At this point Haag stated they did not anticipate any problems …

The Parking Fund … Mr Haag said “Near and dear to all of us” ..(Hmmm… all of whom?) … He said there was “alot going on here”… This fund’s current year and last year were “very, very close”.. “The one glaring exception is on the parking fines due to a delay in the payment process” with the California vendor…He said they were trying to schedule a conference call with them to find out why there have been so many delays in getting the monies in… The TM quickly added that we know thew amount they owe us and we’ll be fine with that amount of revenue coming in… Haag concurred and went on to talk of the number of changes made including reprogramming the business district meters to be $1.25 and hr. from $1  which will generate $25,000 this year …He said we actually budgeted $67,000 and that will come from a combination of revenue streams …the business district meter rate increases…and tonight’s agenda item to increase other rates bringing in an additional $22,000 in revenues as well as the pay stations now being used which have brought other towns 20-30% revenue increases …We have conservatively estimated a 10% increase from them for the balance of the fiscal year to bring in $23,000 in revenues…He said expenditures would be a little bit under at this point but overall revenues should be very close or maybe a little bit over budget… maybe even $10,000 over … Next up was the Parking Fund Transfer portion of the equation not discussed during the General Fund Summary …On this point Mr. Haag said it was up to the Commission to decide whether to make the full transfer into the General Fund from the Parking Fund …Not doing so would build up the parking reserves and to some extent this would be an option barring any issues arising in the General Fund this summer that would necessitate that transfer going through as it has in the past… The TM said the full amount budgeted for the transfer was $200,000 and if they could keep expenses below what was budgeted in the General Fund that money could be used for improvements such as more pay stations and parking lot configurations that they think need to be done to make them more efficient…

The Mayor acknowledged Comm. Sasser who asked Mr. Haag to go back to bullet points concerning the reprogramming and the adopted increases on the agenda and confirm they were both for a combined revenue for this fiscal year..Haag confirmed they were  and the TM added they were as well explaining that some meters in town were never reprogrammed for the rate increase which were included in the bullets he was referring to… Comm. Sasser asked about a parking lot loan and if he was correct we had one and if it was shown and where it was in the expenditures of the Parking Fund …Haag said he was correct …we do have a parking lot loan and it is shown in expenditures…He stated we pay it quarterly and the last payment to SunTrust Bank was made March 30th 2011 for approx. $47,000 in principal and interest…Comm. Sasser wanted to know how much we own on the loan and the TM stated she had just looked into this due to it coming up before…She said not to hold her to it but it was approx. $1.4 million …Haag thought $1.5 million … The TM added it did have a pre-penalty attached (another Colon pre-penalty loan debacle) …of $102,000 adding that we would cover that with the interest savings over a 2 year period but she said “the issue of whether that’s a smart thing to do right now or not I think is a different discussion and we can have that tonight”… Comm. Sasser said he would like to have it… The Mayor tried to cut him off (seems to be a bad habit of hers these days)…Comm. Sasser said he would yield in a minute and asked what bank the loan was with the TM responded SunTrust…Hearing that Comm. Sasser asked if we had other accounts in SunTrust to which Mr. Haag responded we do…Comm.Sasser said we could then renegotiate or try to renegotiate with them (shades of the last Comm. and no negotiations made by the former TM with SunTrust on the last loan we repaid) … assuming direction to repay the loan is made … Comm. Sasser stated he would ask…The Town Manager said if that decision was made to pay off the loan they could certainly ask… Comm. Sasser said we have the money to pay it off so the discussion should take place … The TM asked if the discussion should be at the Roundtable or now and Comm. Sasser said either and it was up to the Mayor… The Mayor cut in without Comm. Sasser yielding and before the Vice Mayor who was next spoke …She asked as a point of information if this was a proprietary fund and if that was correct were the payments of this loan coming from the revenues in the parking fund …Before an answer was given the Mayor added they were not “anything from ad valorem taxes comes from or goes to. The parking fund subsidizes the paybacks of that loan is that correct Mr. Haag?’…Mr. Haag first responded correct but quickly added “it’s not a subsidy because it’s a valid parking fund expense so it’s paid from parking revenues.”… The Mayor said “It’s all the payments, the revenues from the parking fund go pay off the parking loan and the interest.”…Haag again said correct..Mayor Minnet said “There isn’t any other taxpayer”…Haag interjected “There is no taxpayer subsidy per say.”..Town Manager Hoffmann injected “It’s not taxpayer money, it’s parking revenue.”… The Mayor said “So if we decide to pay that off do we have the money within the parking fund to pay off that loan?”…The TM was emphatic in her reply “No!”… The Mayor reiterated “No, so where would we get the  money to pay off the loan. We do have it but how would we, would we have to borrow that? How would we do that?”… Mr. Haag said we could borrow it and said there were a couple of different options … he said “Obviously there’s funds available.”…He said the General Fund or possibly the Capital Fund…The TM said it would be “inappropriate fro m the Capital fund though”…The Mayor said “That’s my question. Can we borrow from that capital or General Fund to pay off a proprietary fund such as the parking fund?”..Mr Haag responded “If the Commission so desired it would be possible to borrow from the General Fund.”…The Mayor “But currently the parking fund is able to pay the interest and the money generated and show a positive cash flow, correct?”… Mr Haag again responded correct and added that up to this point the fund was able to transfer additional funds into the General Fund…The Mayor replied “Great! Ok.”… Comm. Sasser asked if he still had the floor… The Mayor did apologize thinking he had yielded…or so she said… Comm. Sasser stated while he understood we are paying for it out of the parking fund we are moving funds out of the parking fund into the General Fund for use in the General Fund…He asked for verification from Mr. Haag… and seeing he had it he continued on to state if we paid off the loan an no longer had that debt service in the parking fund then we would have more funds available to move to the General Fund if we wanted to …Mr. Haag agreed that was a fair assessment and said “In fact that money could then go to repay the loan, the payoff  amount that was subsidized through the General Fund.”… Comm. Sasser finished up by saying “So we would have more money in the General Fund if we wanted to have it.” and then he yielded … Mr Haag  did throw into the mix that in today’s market it is very, very, very difficult for municipalities to borrow money in any way, shape or form and it was something to be considered in terms of a business analysis and if somewhere down the line we wanted to borrow it could be problematic…(This writer would like some research done on municipalities with no debt and surplus cash reserves before taking this one to the bank and not paying off the last debt we have…pun intended) … Vice Mayor Dodd took his bite at the apple to discuss the LETF portion and inform all that according to state statutes 15% of the total LETF must be used in any given year and if we have $200,000 we are under the required use…He told the Chief of the BSO to add onto his request for the year… It was at this point he told Mr. Haag of the problem he had with the SRC analogy of being a revenue stream benefit to the Town due to more going out than coming in after all was said and done… Comm. Vincent tried to ask a question and was cut off by the Mayor for not pushing his button…It was Comm. Clottey’s turn and she asked Mr Haag how many years were left on the parking loan…He was not sure and apologized for not doing his homework on the loan issue…The TM said she thought it was 2020 and the paperwork was on her desk and could be brought in during the break …(it never came …or if it did it was not brought forth)… Comm. Clottey asked if the Town paid the full $200,000 would that trigger the pre-penalty…The TM interjected that what Comm. Clottey was asking about was an extra payment…Mr. Haag said it was standard language and would most likely still produce the penalty payment…The TM asked for them to look at it before giving an opinion…The Mayor chimed in to say it was time to back off and give the staff time to get the answers …Mr. Haag concurred …The Mayor went on to say staff was not sure of these questions..(it appeared to this writer they were sure of the Mayor’s but not Comm.s Sasser and Clottey)… Comm. Vincent said that “Comm. Clottey asked the question with the terms left on it. I’m assuming 8 years, that was a guess with 2020. Considering it’s self funding I’m all for continued pay down of this. Like you said earlier Doug (Haag) with the inability to borrow money these days , not that the town of Lauderdale by the Sea would have any issues. We’re  pretty strong. I think we could probably bargain a good deal but at this point again I think I would rather have cash in the bank. My opinion on that and let the fund let the revenues from the parking fund self fund this for the time being and with that I yield.”… The Mayor asked if there were any more questions for M.r Haag or could he proceed with the presentation?… The Town Manager said he was actually done… and then made the statement “The bottom line is that the budget’s pretty much right on target when you look at it holistically.”… Mr. Haag again stated the hard copy detailed report would be in the Commissioner’s in box the next day …The TM said the next time they would receive a report like this would be the first of July as they prepare for the new budget… The Mayor ended the Finance Report discussion by saying that due to the questions asked the parking fund loan should be on the next Roundtable per Comm. Sasser’s request…

BC- Before that meeting the Commission should ask for figures… What the cost is of the interest and what is the difference between it and the abysmal rate we are getting by putting that same $1.5 million into a couple of CDs as stated in the TM Report to be posted next…(An avid reader pointed this out to this writer)… Also of course is the questions Comm. Sasser so rightly and aptly put forth …

Also of note…If the Acting Finance Director is correct in his statement of no monies for municipalities anytime soon in any way shape or form …again I ask why have we gone so far off the reservation with the Master Plan Redevelopment of this Town?… These statements made further add fuel to the fire as far as I as a taxpayer am concerned that the referendum items for the redevelopment big ticket items must be on the March 2012 ballot for voters to decide on whether to have bonds which would definitely be required after we burn through the 8-9 million that seems destined to be spent sooner rather than later from the looks of it…

more to come…

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