Thursday, May 6, 2010

When the going gets tough, the Commission takes the month off

What sort of things start to happen when the most transparent City Manager in the history of North Bay Village is fired for “poor communication”? The communication gets even worse.

Remember when all of this was about the budget? It still is. Last year, the commission directed the police to find $350,000 to make up for the shortfall. This shortfall was the result of keeping the ad valorem tax rate at the same level as previous years.

As of March 1, the deadline for the police cuts, the police found only $172,000 in confirmed cuts. The rest was based on hope.

As of May 5, 2010, we are now in worse shape than ever. Watch the math here.

-$350,000 Budget Gap
$172,000 Realized Cuts

-$233,469 Add'l Shortfall

-$42,500 Severance paid this year Police Chief - Total $204,000 through 2012
-$80,000 Severance to City Manager.

-$533,969 Subtotal

$1,200,000 Reserve

$666,031 After Shortfall

Reserve After Shortfall $666,031

There are some other known expenses not included. The Acting City Manager will certainly expect to be paid some amount of money for his work. The city has no reserve to pay any of the lawsuits currently pending and a few new ones likely to pop up as a result of the illegal commission actions, and should we be hit by a hurricane, well...

This is deeply disturbing and if ever there was a cause for alarm, this is it. This is an emergency.

How does our commission respond? By taking the month of May off. That's right. I posted a few days ago that the commission meeting was to be postponed a week but it is now, as of this writing, canceled. You see, Commissioner Rey Trujillo could not be there May 11 owing to other commitments. That's alright. It happens. But because the commission requires a quorum, three members present, and because Vice Mayor George Kane and Commissioner Paul Vogel suddenly also found themselves unavailable, the meeting has been canceled. Not rescheduled, canceled.

So, here we are in the worst budget crisis to hit the city in history, with our two major positions of City Manager and Police Chief unfilled, with no one attending to the grants since Arleen Weintraub left, in the middle of hostile negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police, without any direction on the needed cuts to balance the budget, and three of our commissioners take the month off.

The battle over Matt Schwartz was never about the City Manager. It was always about the fear of transparency, the fear of the FOP and sad little ego trips.

I do hear that the city has been moving forward on the selection of a city manager. Two candidates, Randy Hilliard and Frank Lagos, have already been presented to and held discussions with the FOP representatives in our PD. I have been told George Kane organized these discussions. This is causing much comment and consternation among the righteous group of citizens who joined in the lynching of Matt Schwartz.

This is not unfolding well.

Kevin Vericker

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