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Here’s The Scoop … LBTS-VFD Inc. Beach Patrol … Keeping An Eye Out …. On and Off The Beach…

September 7, 2009 by Barbara

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR …. (photo-  Labor Day 9/7/09)

Dear Readers ….The LBTS-VFD Inc. Beach Patrol …. What are we actually paying for?….

On April 8, 2008 there was discussion while the VFD was in transition during an item put on by Commissioner Dodd  (New Bus. k. pg 12/13) “Discussion and/or action of safety equipment at Portals”…Commissioner Dodd “feared” there could be a lawsuit if the Town “did nothing to provide safety”…leaving us open to a lawsuit…He “believed that an Ordinance would be required and he wanted to forward quickly. He hoped the VFD would be trained and help the Town rather than spend $4 million on lifeguard services. He suggested a workshop on the issue.” Then- Lieutenants Patrick Pontu and Scot Fowler (both left the VFD after confrontations with Vice Mayor/Dep. Chief McIntee…prev. posts…VFD cat.) along with Chief Perkins “talked about lifeguard services and/or preventive actions. Lieutenant Fowler discussed ATV’s, rescue vehicles, and flotation devices as options the Town could provide. Chief Perkins said a class would be required to use the ATV and no one would be able to use the ATV without taking the class.” ( that requirement went by the wayside…with the departure of Fowler)…”Discussion followed regarding beach protection and procedures that would need to be in place, along with the costs for buoys, and ATV’s. Commissioner Clottey asked about the liability and Attorney Richard Weiss said it would cost approximately $200,000. Mayor Minnet was in favor of beach safety and believed the Commission needed time to look at all the issues, including liability and budget figures. Commissioner Dodd made a motion to approve $12,000. Vice Mayor (a VFD member) Jerry McIntee seconded the motion.”

“MANAGER COLON BELIEVED THE TOWN WOULD HAVE TO ENTER INTO AN AGREEMENT WITH THE VFD AND NOT AN ORDINANCE”  (the LBTS-VFD Inc./Town of LBTS contract shows no clause for separate beach patrol funds, just the services…to be paid from the annual contract amount…see below)…

“Commissioner Dodd believed an Ordinance was needed to cover the Town and to warn people that if they mess around with the safety equipment that was provided there would be appropriate penalties. At this time, Commissioner Dodd asked the Town Attorney to look at what other municipalities have done in order to make an Ordinance for the Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea to cover the safety equipment at beach openings. Manager Colon said a  hold harmless agreement was needed and believed everyone needed to get together. Commissioner Dodd amended his motion to propose a budget of $20,000 in conjunction with the Volunteer Fire Department for the purchase of 2 ATV’s to monitor the beach: pending proper liability insurance is established. Commissioner Silverstone (a VFD member) seconded the motion. Mayor Minnet believed the Commission needed more time to make sure everything was in order and avoid the loss of life. She felt the Commission needed to work with the staff and the Town Attorney to make sure the entire package was in proper order. In a roll call, the motion carried 4-1. Mayor Minnet voted no.”

From the above it appears the Taxpayer actually paid for the safety poles and life preservers from the allotted $20,000 and it was not the LBTS-VFD Inc. as touted in the Mc-Furth Times!…

According to the September 2008 LBTS-VFD Inc. Monthly Meeting Minutes … “Beach Patrol has only been  budgeted for 20 paid hours a week. Personnel on ATV exceeding the 2 hours will be credited for station watch.” ….

According to the “Agreement By And Between The Town Of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida And Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Fire Department, Inc.” entered into on Sept. 25, 2008……

On page 2 /Article 2 “General Operating Conditions” “2.2.5 The VFD shall provide a beach patrol division, operating on a part time basis to promote safety and fire prevention and provide surveillance of the public beaches of the Town” and continues on from covering their duties….

On page 4 /Article 6 “Town Contribution” “6.1 During the Term of this Agreement, the Town will make an annual contribution (the “Town Contribution”) to the VFD in order to offset the cost of providing fire  prevention and protection services to the Town. The Town Contribution shall be made payable to the VFD in equal monthly installments beginning October 1, 2008 and due by the 15th of each month thereafter. The Town Contribution for the first year of this Agreement shall be Eight-Hundred and Forty-Four Thousand Dollars ($844,000). Town Contribution shall increase 4% each subsequent year for the duration of the Agreement.

Despite the contract Town Manager Colon opened an account called the “Town Of Lauderdale By The Sea Fire Assessment Reserve ” and it is classified a “Business Checking” account…with a current balance (7/31/09) of $35,000 …it was opened on 7/14/09 …well after the Oct. 1, 2008 start of the LBTS-VFD Inc. contract….E-mails sent between the Town Manager and Commissioner Dodd (after he inquired about Beach Patrol funding…after the 1st Fire Assess. meeting when the Town Manager and the VFD found medical calls and beach patrol could not come from the fire assessment ) contain the Town Manager’s assertion this was for payment of the beach patrol services and she was awaiting a “bill” from the VFD… Quite curious…and disturbing …due to the Manager opening up the account 10 months after the start of the VFD contract….It appears the $35,000 should not be separate or fire assessment funds…When Commissioner Dodd asked if the VFD would receive less than that amount distributed monthly he was told no…HUH?…So will the VFD receive an extra $35,000 beyond the agreement?…..Is the money from the extra fire assessment monies collected over and beyond the allotted  LBTS-VFD Inc. contracted amount?…….

The first 3 quarterly reports show payments received from the Town per the contract…

10/1/08- 12/31 2008… contract revenue 213,219.54/other LBTS payments 3,953.46

1/1/09- 3/31/2009 ….contract revenue 211,205.51

4/1/09- 6/30 2009….contract revenue 211,005.50/ other LBTS contract revenue 10,976.21

The Beach Patrol was paid patrol incentives per the reports…1st quart. 445.00/ 2nd quart. 1,675.00/ 3rd quarter 2,270.00

Totals  (NOT including incentives) for Beach Rescue service per the reports….1st quarter 2,157.44/ 2nd quarter 14,785.74/ 3rd quarter 18,727.72

Total LBTS- VFD Inc. Beach Patrol Rescue Service as of 6/30/ 09 $40,060.90 with 3 months to go!….

According to the July 2009 LBTS-VFD Inc. Monthly Report…ATV 1 had 32.25 hours/ATV 2 had 35 hours /72.25 total hours (including July 4th holiday) with 19.25 hours non-paid volunteer hours….

When the Commission decided 4-1 to go ahead with the LBTS-VFD Inc. Beach Patrol Rescue Service in April 2008…did they ever think we would end up with the minimal hours of ATV patrolling shown above by VFD members that are not trained in the classes the Chief said would be required, riding around in souped up ATVs with lights and sirens…while wearing no shirt or shoes……Did they ponder any thought that the VFD would be purchasing a Sea Doo that the Dep. Chief admitted on the dais was unable to assist in the succession of near drownings as seen in the power point Furth “training” photos in an effort to tout the VFD service…… It too has been “souped up” with lights and sirens seen by all who watched as the Sea Doo made the once around on 4th of July before the fireworks……….Did the 4 Commissioners know we would be paying for the VFD fire boat to be detailed, housed at a new extended dock and outfitted with a $6,000 pumper when the chances are slim to none it would ever be called for…. Would they have faltered in their vote if they knew it is used for “joyrides” with “Mc-buddies and loyal members” up and down the Intracoastal and afternoon trips to the ocean for diving…Could they have fathomed the LBTS-VFD Inc. Beach Patrol Rescue Service would top off the gluttony of its first year Beach Patrol “Rescue Services” with the recently approved Diving Rescue Team…although we hear there has been absolutely no call for such a “team” in the past 20 years!….

The 2009-2010 Fire Assessment is to be discussed on September 14, 2009 at 5:01 pm…in Jarvis Hall….the Taxpayers will once again be paying  $130 for the annual fire assessment…totaling $1,025776.00….the LBTS-VFD Inc. will receive a 4% increase…that will pay them $877,783.00…The Town Fire Marshall has been terminated and the Town Manager plans to contract the service out paying hourly …most likely from the County…she decreased the budget for his services from $100,000  last year to $83,895.00… Unless there is a change of the majority on the dais in March 2010….no accountability will continue in year 2…of their 5 year agreement ……. Flush with funds…for fun…fun…fun….Beach Rescue Services included?…..

Taxpayers, you will finally be allowed to publicly comment at this meeting….SPEAK UP ….or forever hold your “piece” of the $3 million dollar fire house that is waiting in the wings…..

more to come….

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