Thursday, July 22, 2010

North Bay Village Doubles The Size Of Its Legal Staff

Trujillo Tax Update from July 21 - Last night at the very special meeting of the North Bay Village Commission, Rey Trujillo won half a battle or maybe double a battle. It's all very confusing.

The former Vice Mayor has found that our City Attorney displeases him. Naturally he wanted to fire him. But there was a bit of a problem. Our City Attorney doesn't displease everybody. His legal advice has been consistent and transparent, even when it's not good news. Especially when it's not good news. The former Vice Mayor doesn't like not good news.

Trujillo explained his actions by laying out his reasoning. This is a quote: "The city attorney has taken certain liberties with certain actions in certain cases." This leaves a little bit to be desired in terms of clarity.

Well, anyway, since it would have been stupid to have fired the city attorney on those grounds, George Kane crafted a clever compromise. Let's have two city attorneys. Joe Geller was demoted to "Deputy City Attorney" and a new firm was contracted to be City Attorney. Trujillo voted YES, along with Kane and Vogel.

Now we are paying 2 City Managers, 2 Police Chiefs and 2 City Attorneys.

We do know the cost of 2 City Managers, but still don't have a price for the additional Police Chief or the additional City Attorney.

Many budget and finance experts recommend that cities refrain from additional expenses when they don't know their current financial conditions and they don't know their foreseeable expenses. Rey Trujillo says NO to that fiscal stuff. Let's just keep on spending.

Now not all of his plans are getting passed. Last week the commission failed to pass a measure Trujillo proposed to have North Bay Village buy a lot on Harbor Island to provide parking spaces for the residents of 7904 West Drive. There's apparently a parking shortage and Rey Trujillo thought that the city should spend at least $250,000 to condemn and take over a privately owned piece of land so that some people could park a bit closer to their building.

It was never made clear exactly how much but $250,000's the figure bandied about. It sounds low. (George Kane recused himself from the dais as it was his deal and the last time he tried to get the city to pay his real estate commissions, it didn't work out so well. Click here for more information on the last land deal. ) Remember, we are heading towards at least a $1,000,000 shortfall, don't know our current deficit level and many of us are trying to figure out how to keep our cars rather than where to park them.

Rey Trujillo thought it was a good idea that every resident in North Bay Village pay an additional $35 per head or about a $100 per house to buy a few people a slightly more convenient place to park. That was too much for the other members of the commission and this ill conceived notion died an embarrassing death in front of all.

Trujillo Tax To Date:

This is the amount that Rey Trujillo has spent of our money so far.

  • $127,305 to forgive the water bill at the Grand View Palace, where he lives.
  • $57,000 in unpaid bills from the Grand View Palace
  • $40,000 in additional legals fees to add a new City Attorney (my estimate based on $250 per hour and 40 hours per month work.)
  • $115,000 in hiring a new police chief. (again, an estimate since there is no contract but it's probably in the ballpark.)
  • $80,000 to pay our former city manager.
  • $362,305 is our running total to make Rey Trujillo comfortable.

    $233 per household in property taxes for costs that produce nothing.

Last night, George Kane left early. That meant that the commission was unable to pass the plan to add a new Code Enforcement Officer and the plan to take August off for a little rest and relaxation after four months of pillaging the city coffers was not passed, so our commission will meet next month. I believe August 12 will be the day assuming that the there is not a repeat of May when coincidentally Rey Trujillo, George Kane and Paul Vogel were all unable to reorganize their schedules for a meeting.

Other Business - The commission set the maximum TRIM (property tax) rate at 5.9. More about property taxes tomorrow. It deserves its own post.

Planning and Zoning has two new members - Jorge Piedra of Treasure Island and Silvio Diaz of Harbor Island.

Still no action on the commission's part to clarify that the city is not or should not be a "Pay to Play" town. The current Vice Mayor's deal to extract $25,000 in commissions from the city, which violated the county ordinance on ethics, a finding to which he agreed and must pay the money back, goes uncensured.

And no surprise here - former Vice Mayor Rey Trujillo announced he is running for mayor. He had a free lance writer interviewing people at the meeting and talked movingly about his commitment to fiscal restraint. Campaign season is upon us.

Kevin Vericker
July 22, 2010

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