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Here’s The Scoop …. ADD IT TO THE BUDGET ….

September 15, 2009 by Barbara

A MUST FOR YOU …. MADAM MANAGER ….

Dear Readers after the September 14, 2009 Budget Meeting…It is quite apparent the Town Manager needs to do much more than to stop saying “AKS”!…

She seems to think that she is only accountable to the Commission and said just that… This is a cunning woman… with an increasingly thin skin…and that tells this writer there is much going on in Town Hall…She tags one key word and goes after it as witnessed last night ….it takes her off topic…away from the point  and diverts the attention away from what is actually being asked….

Will someone please inform the Manager that the chart …the ultimate chart …and she told us how much she loves charts…shows that the CITIZENS are at the top of the chart in LBTS!….She spent much time calling the taxpayers  “some individuals” …”outsiders”….with such disdain that she cannot contain it on the dais and off!…

This was a Budget hearing…the first time the “individuals/ outsiders” could ask questions…the two “individuals/outsiders ” she went after with an assist by Commissioner Silverstone were genuine and offered no bad behavior…just their questions, observations and opinions….

So thin skinned is Manager Colon that no matter where in the room this writer sits…she zones in …asking the Mayor to keep an eye on me…(audible on the video)….Shaking my head was the provocation…again I was definitely shaking my head in disbelief at her continued bad behavior …I was warned as I quietly reassured resident Ben Freeny after he was shocked that both Commissioner Silverstone and Town Manager Colon falsely accused him of saying there was possibly a shell game going on in Town…Mr Freeny’s comment was “In major cities it’s difficult to tell but a lot of time it’s a big shell game”…he was not talking about the Town… and he was not allowed to respond, but when he leaned forward to share his disbelief …this writer was again zoned in on…..

What was said and what was ignored is what needs to be pointed out…along with the artful dodging…(a link to the video and the budget online with the numbers below)…

Let’s start at the beginning…there were 10 residents in the hall along with Judy Vik from the the Pompano Pelican….four representatives from charities and the staff all gussied up at the back table, but never brought to the front for their closeup …just briefly recognized by the Manager at the end of the meeting…Commissioner Clottey was MIA and was excused in her absence by the Commission before we began… The charity reps came up first to ask for another years offerings from the Town…as in the past the Town Manager made a recommendation in the budget of no donations… (approx. 12,000, the same as in 2008-09)…Then came public comments …and the Mayor allowed extra time due to a small gathering…a mixed bag in response for this writer … in prior years it was just 1 or 2 …but at the prior budget meeting when the public was not allowed to speak the room was almost full…Hmmmm….Mark Brown, a resident was up first with a comment and 13 questions…his comment was on the “editorializing” of the budget…He thought that stating “major accomplishments” in the budget such as the training of the fire department…which received a “zero” from ISO…and Public Safety Complex being completed when it is not …constituted “editorializing” …He had concerns about transferring funds from accounts…and how money was projected for use in the budget as compared to discussion or lack thereof from the Commission on those expenditures …He was interested in the grants …especially the $3 million for a firehouse and where the Town’s portion of matching funds would be coming from…He wanted also to know if the budget allowed for any change in police over the 18-24 month lead time previously offered up by the Vice Mayor when he discounted any plan to get rid of the BSO …Paul Novak, a resident  came to the podium in his official capacity as President of the Chamber of Commerce to ask for the same funds as the prior year and to tout the good deeds and the contribution made to the Town by the Chamber and the Welcome Center…Amy Weiss a business owner also spoke on behalf of the Chamber and Welcome Center and what it has meant to her business over the years…Bob Fleishman, a resident spoke about the Bert J. Harris lawsuit and a lack of reserves for the suit…the low millage vs the emergency funds …the Capital improvement fund and infrastructure…He spoke of the Managers’ “pie grafts” saying it was missing the “ingredients”…in not representing where or how money was spent…He thought more savings needed to be put aside…Ben Freeney, a resident and CPA spoke of his credentials and the time he spent looking at the budget and prior Town financial reports and what he found troubling…he spoke of the analysis …the preparation and what was meant when using terms thrown out such as we (Town) are in the black or red…saying a Town is not supposed to make money … He spoke about the financial reports passed each month with no questions asked …He then spoke about ratio analysis…the payroll and items in the budget that changed …with some of those changes raising more questions such as the health insurance and labor changes in departments…and huge cuts in maintenance …such as utilities …and of course his comment about “major cities budgets and a lot of time it’s a big shell game”…Ron Piersante, a resident came up to speak as a volunteer for the Chamber and spoke of the Chamber and Welcome Center …saying he distributes the Visitor Guides…He said he has been asked why this Commission is so anti-business ….This writer was the last resident and spoke of how “thrilled” I am with the marked increase in resident participation in the budget after years of  sitting in the hall with just one or two others…people are paying attention and new people are coming forward…I added the problem I see with the times for the budget hearings being 5:01 and that many younger working taxpayers are unable to participate…I also informed the dais that the next budget hearing that finalized and approves the budget falls on the second day of Yom Kippur..I spoke of the millage …it could have been lowered knowing finally that we are “flush with funds” ( $18,329,219 as of 8/31/09..the end of the fiscal year)…and paying off the promissory notes ( that we now know indeed came with pre- penalty payments more than a year after originally asked about )…This ended the public comments…

Commissioner Dodd said he wanted answers about the Beach Patrol and the $35,000 shown in the fire assessment fund (not in the original budget)…and whether that was an addition to the VFD contracted amount (at the July meeting the Manager asked if the VFD contract could be altered after learning the beach patrol could not be funded from the fire assessment and was told by the Town Atty. no…The Town Manager then opened up the $35,00 fire assessment fund from the General fund…[prev.post])…Comm. Dodd also said  after receiving the memo with the total of $18 million …he was changing his position of paying off the promissory notes …He was interested in the “original repurchase loan that changed to a now account and compared it to a variable bank mortgage…he spoke of the $100,000 made in the short term cost us in the end to pay back…He spoke of the reserves and the need to lower them and commended the Town Manager on her presentation of the budget this year…The Vice Mayor was in campaign mode … a chicken in every pot!…. He first made his usual pitch about where we stand compared to other towns in Broward County…the “terrible beating” the Town Manager receives from members on this dais…and that the majority of residents will see major drops in their taxes (HUH?)…He spoke of the fire assessment and discussion about it was misleading…that “Commissioner Silverstone nailed THEM” with getting a list of towns and finding most did not fund the fire dept. only from a fire assessment…( he did not add why that is…later stated by Comm. Dodd…because many of those towns knew what the Town Manager found out in July and was addressed by Mr. Burton, that portions of the fire service cannot be paid from the fire assessment)…He went on to talk of the “realm of recovery…it’s scary …200 applicants for a job …not sure this is the right time to pay off our loans…I think we should set up a workshop”…( a workshop was already setup per Comm. Clottey on the 10th for 5 pm on 9/22/09)…he then told us how “fortunate” we are that “somebody is doing right”…and in an all out political campaign to wipe away past bad deeds he told Paul Novak and the Chamber he was in support of the same funds as the last year for the Chamber and if they got $20,000 from the county …”I could care less…you get it…God bless you”…(This was the same Vice Mayor that wanted to move the Chamber…was in lockstep with  the Town Manager for getting an RFP for the Welcome Center…and offered and pulled the VFD funding of $5,000 for Christmas -by -the- Sea last year WOW!)…Commissioner Silverstone spoke about the donations and was confused about there being no donations…the Town Manager clarified it and he said he was “leaning towards” giving them the same as the precious year…( he had the wrong amount)… and then it began…Comm. Silverstone spoke of the 13 questions Mark Brown presented and wanted answered…and the Town Manager began her disgraceful responses in a condescending tone that speaks volumes for why she needs to go…she said she did not put inaccurate information into Town Topics and that “some individuals don’t understand a roll back”…she went on to explain where the info came from and then again in a condescending manner said “I try to explain during the power point, I circulate these documents if individuals can’t them that’s not my problem.” …. ” I do not give unfactual ( her word) information”…she spoke about about the LETF not shown in the budget (per a question from Mark Brown about the $150,000)…she spoke of how all the funds were discussed for the renovations,…(while I do not recall that discussion, LETF is not usually included in the budget)…she was flippant in her response to the Town Atty. budget…answering that the Commission understands the $250,000 for the Bert J. Harris suit…the question from Mr. Brown was not on the $250,000 but the increase in the Atty. budget ….she derogatorily spoke of “budget 101” …. Comm. Silverstone brought up the VFD “fire” boat …another question Mark Brown asked about…. its purpose of “patrolling” the Intercoastal…Comm. Silverstone said it was “necessary tool”…and it had been used for 2 dock fires ..(this writer will put in a request for those incident reports)… he also said the purchase of the Public Safety building will save us money…and on the topic of recycling …the Town Manager said the Mayor requested more cans on the beach…adding residents are not recycling causing extra work for the employees…The Town Manager answered Mr. Brown’s question on the grants saying she only looks for non-matching fund grants…and will not come to the Commission with them for that reason…she added “On the face” they are not asking for matching funds…Hmmmm……adding (thin skinned) she gets in trouble for getting grants and for not getting grants…the $3 million “firehouse” is not a “firehouse” she said…at first saying it would be for the VFD/AMR vehicles…then adding “housing for fire rescue”…Hmmm…a building that housed the fire apparatus and the AMR apparatus and the fire rescue can sleep in…sounds like a “firehouse”!…OOPS!…She said there is no money out there for the police and they were turned down for the federal stimulus funds….she added that when she gets direction from this Commission she will look into the police …and a change…Comm. Silverstone went along with the Vice Mayor on the Chamber (Broom Boys re-election)…and addressed “Mr Freely ” (Freeny) about the “Question about being in the BLACK OR BLUE” …..and then the “possible shell game up here” remark which distorted Mr Freeny’s comment…The Town Manager took over with going after Mr Freeny about the ratios and said “it doesn’t take a rocket scientist” to understand…along with additional commentary that showed an “udder”(Jimmy-boy)  lack of professionalism….She spoke of “personal attacks”…and her past actions “sittin up here as Finance Director”… paying off existing loans …and designations of Capital Improvement funds for capital improvements…She spoke of the trucks bought and why they were bough when they were this year ….Hmmm …(what she didn’t say was the trucks were bought “upfront”…and at the prior RFP for Parking Citation…this Town Manager said she does not buy anything “upfront” OOPS!)….She addressed the health and labor costs  changes in the budget…(per Ben Freeny) and then added this gem “some people want to write the facts, some people like to muddle the facts. I don’t muddle the facts.”…(She just skirts them…bends them…or stamps her foot down until they go away)….Comm. Silverstone (also a little thin skinned ) added that he does not have a CPA but he trusts the Town Manager and then wanted to make a motion to “reduce the debt”…The Mayor thanked everyone for coming and asked about the 5:01 time and was then correctly informed it cannot be held BEFORE 5:01 …then she spoke about the correct amount of the donations…the millage rate…and asked for residents to continue to make their comments  known….. The Mayor asked Comm. Silverstone about the ISO training and was informed that ISO would not accept the transition training in doing their report…The Town Manager went on to speak about the fire assessment and addressed the $35,00 (see above) that will be paid by the General Fund…She was deceptive in her holding up e-mails to say she had given the same response 4 times to Comm. Dodd on the payment which is still not sorted out…she went after him on the bank accounts…and sidestepped the issues…those being when she changed the repurchase agreement a little over a year ago (per the SunTrust Rep.) was it done with or without Commission input?….and the promissory notes…She  was almost glib in being able to “slap” Commissioner Dodd on the wrist in her assertion the promissory notes are at a “fixed rate”…while not addressing her decision to choose a pre-penatly when acquiring them that turned out to be FISCALLY IRRESPONSIBLE now that we need to pay them off with approximately a  $200,000 cost to the Town….She addressed the lowering of the emergency fund…and spoke of the million used in Wilma…(a look at 2 dates of the emergency fund shows in July it held approx. a million and in August it was back to $2.2…Hmmmm)…The line item budget…(per my comment and Comm. Dodd)…she said was antiquated…(Hmmm….on the RFPs she said if it ain’t broke don’t fix it)….and then went all personal again ..saying she has “a problem with criticism that hits below the belt”…that she gets “more criticism from OUTSIDERS (citizens) than on the dais…Comm. Dodd spoke about the memo on the fire assessment and the 100% not paid and asked for 95% to go to the fund and the rest to the vehicle reserve (the budget is always done to 95%…this allows the rest if not used to be used elsewhere [unencumbered funds]…Comm. Silverstone asked if it could be done at “this stage of the game” and said he was for no fire assessment ..he wants ad valorem…The Town Atty. said it was to late because the Commission had already gone for the 3.9990 and could not go any lower…Comm. Dodd said he would put it on next year…and the Town Manager informed him that the 95% budget was already in place…the fire assessment passed 4-0…the Millage was read…and passed… Comm. Silverstone wanted to see if it was appropriate to pay off the loan…The Town Manager made her power point presentation…showed her charts…spoke of “cuttin'” hours and added she cut the Fire Marshal from 30 hours to 20 hours making it an “on call” position…due to a drop in permits…(what she didn’t say was she terminated the Fire Marshal who was hired as “AT WILL” employee giving her the unilateral right to terminate him, as of today…we have no fire marshal in town…unless she has chosen to use the VFD fire inspector?)….her chart showed $16,472,480….she said they were “workin’ very well with the BSO ” and they would be moving into the Public Safety building and then the “illegal trailer” would be removed…(for a $3 million firehouse/ and what about Minto’s trailer?)… She spoke of the surveillance cameras which she decided were a “reocurring” (her word) expense…(the LETF section of the State statute list the item as allowable)…She said the following about the donations …”It is my opinion that if you don’t have the interest to come here ” (the hall) you shouldn’t get the funds…and the extra $2000 should go back in the General fund….She did give the personnel (not TM/Asst. TM/ Dept. Heads) a 2.5% COLA ….She spoke of the 46 code revisions…with 30 being enacted lat year …and more to come (fees…fees…fees)…She spoke of the need for a master plan document with “citizen input”…(the MPSC has yet to receive any of the past plans or direction from Town or Commission as a whole and was canceled tonight due to a CIC meeting)…Commissioner Silverstone made a motion to “forgive the loans”…then corrected it to pay of the loans after being informed by the Town Attorney it was an amendment to the budget…it was seconded by the Vice Mayor …(who was against it at the last commission meeting and in his comments at this meeting)…the budget and the amendment passed 4-0..

While I am glad the promissory notes are to be paid off…and again this should have happened a year or so ago…due to the pre- penalty payments…and the large cost to us in this timing of the payoff…the Commission already set a workshop for 5 pm on the 22nd per Comm. Clottey…after she and the Vice Mayor said it needed more than”3 minutes” to discuss… Now there is no discussion including Comm. Clottey and the set meeting is  canceled?….What about direction to be given to the Manager to see if the bank will negotiate down the penalties?…….We waited way too long  for real numbers of what this town has in funds….. it was again a unilateral decision made by the Town Manager… This budget was passed with some very big padding that will end up unencumbered for use by the Manager in the last 3 months next year…(more trucks?) …items such as the roof for the Chamber and garage doors for the municipal garage and more under the justification sheets… and nothing was said about the warehouse sale…

After all that was said and all that was done at last night’s meeting maybe on the 28th the Commissioners should offer up that Dale Carnegie course for the Town Manager…and for a budget review board to be in place next year……made up of “individuals and outsiders”!….

The final budget meeting…again open for public comment is Sept. 28, 2009 at 5:01 pm…Jarvis Hall

more to come….

budget is on the right hand side…meeting is under video

http://www.lauderdalebythesea-fl.gov/

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