Monday, August 31, 2009

Cooper City's Latest Budget Workshop

This past Friday I read the news and did my homework for this evening’s budget workshop, and what I saw was very frightening. What I saw is that interest rates are at zero, and the government is flooding the market with cash. Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac are up 251% and 286% respectively, yet they were in big trouble 6 months ago, and now they are soaring. Bank of America is $40 billion in debt to the government, AIG is 80% government owned (along with the auto makers) and had a 277% gain in one month, yet they were left for dead last fall. The USA is broke, and as such, you don’t print more money, or raise taxes and fees. What does all of this tell us?

I don’t know about you, but it tells me that this country and government is just delaying the pain. The risk in holding any investments in US dollars is tremendous! The government, including ours in lil’ ol’ Cooper City, is turning the recession into a depression. It also tells me that our government called the Municipal Corporation of the City of Cooper City, has not done its due diligence in protecting its residents and business owners from excessive costs and fees in a time of recession.

Yes folks, the national economy and crisi directly affect all of us whether you see it, feel it or not. Consumers aren’t buying anything of real value right now. The consumer is scared and won’t infuse capital into the system for a long time. The government is on the short squeeze & the last thing you want to do is get in bed with the government! What happens when all of this passes over? We will have inflation like we’ve never seen before. Probably upwards of up to 400 to 500% in the next few years.

What does this have to do with us, lil’ ol’ Cooper City? Well, for one, our General Employees Pension Fund was at least $4 million in the hole a year ago. It may very well be another $2 million in the hole on top of that for this year. We spent lots of money on consultants for water conservation matters and water studies, when in reality, it was more than likely a political action, and we raised water rates up to 75% because we lost revenues due to the people’s proud and meaningful conservation efforts in saving water.

There was no 6 month review of the 2008-09 budget. 1 in 16 residents in Cooper City are unemployed, almost 350 homes are now in foreclosure, and we want to spend $3.5 plus million dollars on basically what amounts to water enforcement, we want to buy a backhoe for 300+% more than monthly rental costs, we cry ‘poor mouth’ yet we have millions in cash per the auditor. We were lied to for 3 or more years about the so-called ‘reserve funds’, we completely ignore the Enterprise funds, and the department heads threaten layoffs when asked to suggest cuts in expenditures and discretionary operating costs, when they could have easily found and submitted ways to reduce expenses and costs, and eliminate known waste. The problem is the Department Heads don’t want to cut discretionary expenditures. They haven’t ever had to do it, so the backup data which threaten layoffs that is before us tonight is the end result.

As tenured employees and professionals making well over 6 figures a year, they should be able to do a simple task such as provide detailed specifics on cutting expenses and waste, not just say “we have to lay off employees”, which would contribute to the already high unemployment rate in our city and county.

The fire assessment for a residential single family was just approved for a 23.1% increase and the total of the fire assessment in revenues per the recent trim notice for next year says Cooper City will derive one million two hundred thousand in additional revenues, in English that’s $1,200,000.00, when we are all scrimping and scraping every dollar we can justify. What is that $1.2M going to be spent on? That question should have been answered at the last budget workshop.

The question arises as to what exactly does the trim notice mean when it says that the City will receive $1,200,000 in funds? If the funds are collected by the county and then returned to the city are those funds entered into a special fund for payment for the services of the BSO fire division or are they placed into the general fund? Or are they meant for some special purpose expenditures? I know asking these questions is a little on the late side but they only arose once I received my TRIM notice.

Just the fact that this workshop is today at 5 PM tells me that this commission does not care about its stakeholders. A 5 PM start time is ridiculous and absurd. If the majority on the commission have so much to do that they couldn’t have had this meeting at a later time to cater to their constituents, then there is a problem. It is downright insulting to our residents and business owners, most of who don’t even get off of work at 5 PM, much less have to rush home, feed their family and try to make it to the budget workshop before adjournment.

Cooper City has a history of spending money like crazy. The resulting debacle is what we have before us now. The ‘voodoo economics’ practiced in Cooper City is largely due to decided fiscal issues a few years ago which are definitely affecting all of us now.

As such, the current Cooper City commission just hasn’t done the job that the residents and business owner’s expect us to do. We bicker about petty nonsense, personalities and collectively allow it to happen at each and every commission meeting while we sit back and 'cry poor mouth'. The Mayor can’t play by the rules, and the rest of the commission can’t seem to lay out a solid financial plan and a future for our city in this economic crisis due to the politricks, hatemongering and bias and prejudice emanating from, and occurring at city hall. It is very apparent that we sorely lack real leadership in Cooper City.

As such, for this Commission to approve this proposed budget as submitted would be a disgrace and an injustice to our constituents and the city’s stakeholders.

PS, there were some issues that were addressed and at least in consensus, parenthetically yet to be confirmed, scheduled for the budget hearing of September regarding the water meter project and capital expenditures. Stay tuned for more...
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