Friday, September 17, 2010

Last on the Sept 14th Commission Meeting

Any given North Bay Village commission meeting has so many aspects that it's possible to write about them forever but I need to wrap up about what we learned at this week's meeting.

  • The assumptions about the furloughs on which previous iterations of the budget have been built are no longer operative. The unions have said that they will not voluntarily cooperate with the plan.

    There remains a question as to whether the union opinion matters. In February of 2010, then City Manager Schwartz sought the opinion of outside legal counsel before implementing the furloughs and the opinion was that if the furloughs were equally spread among all city employees, they were legal regardless of union objections. Other cities are doing this based on the same information.

  • The interim city manager, Bob Pushkin, has been working very hard to find new ways to balance the budget, including a creative concept of deferred compensation. The details are a bit fuzzy but instead of furloughs, it may be possible to defer certain compensation until the end of the fiscal year 2011 (Sept 30, 2011).

  • There is a proposal to privatize garbage pickup that may save around $350,000. It would mean layoffs of the current staff, selling some of the capital equipment, going to curbside pickup instead of side yard, and entering into a three year contract. This proposal is less controversial than I thought it would be. It will be included in the final budget presented on September 28.

  • In response to a significant reduction in funds available for police overtime, Police Chief Daniels suspended the DARE program and police participation in the PAL program on Wednesday in order to use the officer assigned for other duties while he reviews the city participation in these programs.

    This is probably the most controversial point at the meeting. The parents feel abandoned that these programs, directly run and supported by the NBV police, were suspended without notice or consultation with the families affected.

    Special note: one of more vociferous citizens actually made the comment "If you need babysitting, hire an immigrant at minimum wage." I would not recommend taking child rearing advice from this speaker.

  • Vice Mayor George Kane casually and deliberately slandered the former city manager and the previous grants administrator when he blamed delays on the Tiger grants to them "walking off with the passwords." Former Vice Mayor Rey Trujillo grandstanded during his report by playing a recording from the 2008 commission followed by handwritten charts proving decisively that property tax projections were wrong, even though he voted for them, and this proves he is not a higher tax advocate while simultaneously promoting a millage rate increase. As mentioned, the North Bay Village Trujillo Tax is about his reckless spending, close to half a million and counting.

This is the sort of insanity that passes for fiscal responsibility when citizens don't show up to learn, discuss and make their needs heard. The final budget is scheduled to be debated and adopted on September 28. After that, it's too late.

Kevin Vericker
September 17, 2010

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