Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Possible Cooper City Budget and Millage Rate Increase

These are three simple words posted on my blog that guide the job of a city commissioner.

Policy - To do the job that I was elected to do, and that is serving you. I do not take information or staff recommendations that are provided to me at face value. Instead, I research the facts and attempt to find a better alternative or a more efficient methodology. I feel that my job as your representative is to improve our city’s quality of life, as opposed to taking the politically correct path of least resistance, or making decisions on your behalf in order to fulfill a personal or a political agenda.

Vision - Working with our community and other true leaders, my job as your representative is to achieve a common goal of prosperity and success, both yours and that of our business owner’s, and keep the vision in continuing to keep Cooper City ‘Someplace Special’.

Oversight - Oversight is the fiduciary responsibility to ensure our citizen’s money is well spent and accounted for on basic health, safety and welfare of the community. I take that responsibility very seriously as I strive to protect your hard earned tax-payer dollars. In that spirit, I look for facts and data to substantiate our City's proposed expenses. I ask a lot of questions, yet get very few really solid answers.

Regarding the 2010-2011 budget, the city has raised more revenue than expected and estimated more in expenses. The city consistently understates revenues and overstates expenses. This is not the time to be designing in cushions using your money, especially when so many of us need it to survive and pay our monthly expenses and mortgage.

It’s the time for bold honest truth. The city is not being candid, and should not be playing with other people’s money.

Again, no substantial efforts have been made to curtail discretionary spending. Last year when I asked our staff and directors to try to cut discretionary expenses by 10% I was responded to with a frivolous “we have to lay people off” mentality. Not so much as a simple executive summary of where we can look to cut expenses was provided. Just a “the sky is falling approach” to protecting the individual departmental budgets.

The are dozens of examples I can use to save money in this proposed budget which all add up to big tax dollars! We spend on bottled water while at the same time, we brag about how good our water is, and send out high gloss, multi page brochures instead of just posting it on our website. This is just one very insignificant example, but if you look at our budget online, I am sure you can find more pork than I have found to cut. The city needs to set the example!

I’m having difficulty seeing where the real priorities are. Are we really serving the community appropriately with this budget? I believe in, and strive daily for open, honest and transparent government. You deserve it!

This budget should reflect citizens’ priorities, not those of career politicians. Apparently the city does not perceive what the residents and business owners really want. What they want is reduced expenditures and less taxes. There is rampant unemployment, food has gone up, gas is up again, school supplies are up, over 400 foreclosures in our city as of last month…where does it end?

The increases suggested Monday for Citizens Property Insurance Co. would vary by location. In some parts of South Florida, prices could increase to almost 12 percent. We are facing another 2% Water rate hike in November 2010, a 12 to 15% FPL-Electricity rate hike, a 10% College tuition rate hike, the worst unemployment in the last 50-60 years, a 17% drop in school population per the CAFR, and alot more future increases in federal and state taxes and fees, many of which were supported by your city commissioners and Mayor.

If we don't stop spending on wants, not needs now, we will either have to raise taxes, or there will be some serious cuts to make. And...nothing can be held harmless in making those cuts. Every day we postpone acting decisively to rein in wasteful spending and cut discretionary expenses and the debt in Cooper City, we pile even more on the backs of thousands of young residents and many business owners.

We certainly have the ability to spend more wisely, yet we don’t. Just look at the past budgets, financial reports and workshop meetings. What have you demanded be cut, and it was actually cut? Some say the little things don’t matter in reducing expenditures, yet they add up quickly. We need to set the example and the little things add up to tens of thousands of dollars of your money.

The political establishment has kept costs and expenses up, not down. We simply need common sense solutions and minimal sacrifices to quality of life services. We need to re-establish the public trust which has been all but destroyed by this city commission.

This is not “my” city or money but “OUR” city and money! How the city performs its duties along with how “OUR” money is allocated and spent should be transparent and available to everyone.

Your city commission is NOT cutting the budget but inflating it, NOT reducing fees and taxes but possibly raising them, with little or no follow-up on commission directives of the recent past.

It is time to stop the unnecessary spending, and reduce the city’s inflated budget.

Tell your City Commissioner’s to stop wasting your tax dollars. As your commissioner, and as I have done in previous years, I will vote NO on the proposed budget if I see continued waste and unnecessary or excessive expenditures in our budget that are not immediately cut. The city needs to manage their money like you and I have had to do in this recession laden economy.

Tell your City Commissioner’s not to raise the millage rate cap tomorrow night (Special Meeting at 6 PM, City Hall), and to realize that the taxpayer is not an endless stream or source of money to be wasted by them. I will vote NO if the millage rate cap is raised.

Email your city commissioners and say NO to new taxes and an increased budget!

If the city commission indeed raises the millage rate cap and adopts the budget as proposed, all I have to say is "Thank you for helping the Cooper City economy struggle."


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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Campaign Sign Theft in Cooper City!

Last evening my magnetic campaign signs were stolen from a supporter's vehicle from the area of 51st Street and SW 92nd Terrace in Cooper City, FL.

Broward Sheriff’s Office is investigating the Case #16100700726

Any information leading to the arrest of campaign sign thieves and any information leading to the knowledge of anyone who steals campaign sign thieves will be reciprocated by a reward.

If someone is arrested, they could be charged with theft of campaign sign, a misdemeanor punishable by a fine or possible jail time.

Please keep an eye on your signs when they are able to be placed out.

Trespassing is also against the law. As such, I will expect the Broward Sheriff’s Office to be vigilant for political sign pilferage and the State Attorney to aggressively prosecute and one caught stealing campaign signs and/or trespassing.

If signs are missing in this upcoming election season, please call Broward Sheriff’s Office and get a case number. Demand a report and an investigation!

Because of the importance of the election process to our system of democracy, I do not take lightly these violations! Should we catch anyone involved in this activity, we will stringently enforce the law and they will pay!

You can steal our signs, but not our votes!
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fake FBI Agents Attempt To Rob Cooper City Home

Three men posing as FBI agents attempted to rob the owner of a Cooper City home and the owner fired his gun at them, according to the Broward Sheriff's Office.

Police said three men wearing baseball hats and T-shirts with the letters FBI on the back pulled an SUV into the driveway of a home in the 5000 block of Southwest 104th Avenue after 4 a.m. Monday.

BSO spokesmen said that the two robbers jumped into their new model, midsize, silver Mercedes-Benz SUV with a third man, and they drove away.

You can read the story on Channel 10 WPLG HERE. Anyone with information is asked to call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477).

Here is another story with complete video.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cooper City Budget, Property Tax & Senior's Meetings

I wanted to update you on a few very important upcoming meetings in Cooper City. They will be located at city hall, 9090 SW 50 Place, Cooper City, FL 33328.

On Monday and Tuesday July 26th and 27th at 6 PM there will be workshops held at city hall regarding our 2010-2011 budget.

The 2010-2011 proposed budget can be found online at
http://coopercityfl.org/vertical/Sites/%7B6B555694-E6ED-4811-95F9-68AA3BD0A2FF%7D/uploads/%7BA04BC2CC-2078-4AEF-AD75-BE42727EA307%7D.PDF

On Thursday July 29th, there will be a millage rate (Ad Valorem Property Taxes) workshop at 6 PM at city hall. This meeting is regarding your property taxes. Please be there to show support to my opposition of any property tax increase.

Challenges regarding our budget in Cooper City are mounting. Our surpluses and cash equivalents were $22M+ at the beginning of this fiscal year. As such, we shouldn’t need to even discuss raising the property (ad valorem) taxes. We also don’t need to spend your hard earned tax dollars on a new city hall, as wished for by a majority on the city commission.

Some of the increased taxes and fees the city levies, or is capable of levying, that you may soon encounter, are ad valorem property taxes, the fire assessment fee, the utilities fee/tax, sanitation tax, storm water tax, waste water tax, franchise fee/tax, electricity and telecommunications tax, occupational licenses, permit fees, etc. You get the idea…

On Wednesday, July 28th at 10:00 am a Senior’s forum will be hosted by The Recreation Department. The Forum will be moderated by Stephen Person, Consultant on Senior Affairs.

This forum is designed to receive information from the Cooper City Seniors, Caregivers and other residents attending and interested in our Cooper City Elders activities.

The forum will consist of the following:

1. To determine how to increase awareness and participation in existing programs and services that are offered to those over-60 residents in Cooper City.

2. To solicit ideas from attendees on how existing services can be improved.

3. To identify programs and/or services that would be desired with the focus on improving the quality of life for Cooper City Senior Citizens.

I believe that we need to implement the bus route in Cooper City. I believe the money is available and our seniors so desperately need that service.

Please attend these very important budget workshops, millage workshop and Senior’s Forum to assist our Seniors, caregivers and all interested in improving the quality of life for that Special Segment of Population of our City. Your input is necessary to enhance their daily lives and activities at The Community Center and in Cooper City.

For additional information on the senior’s forum, please call Kathy at 954-434-4300, Ext. 255. Let us all support our Senior Citizens and attend this Forum.

As I have previously stated, the city should and must ‘tighten its belt’ like most of our residents have to do in order to continue to operate ‘in the black’ without unnecessarily raising your taxes. No substantial efforts have been made by staff and the commission to decrease spending, yet the city must be committed to getting serious about your money with decisions on spending made more responsibly, especially in the current economy.

This can be accomplished by removing the political barriers on the city commission, demanding stronger and unbiased leadership, and demanding a lean and responsive city commission and staff with increasing fiscal responsibility toward our residents and business owners.

I simply want to make it very clear, I see myself as a public servant continuing to be increasingly vigilant, fiscally prudent and respectfully responsible to our residents and business owners in the manner in which way we spend their hard earned tax dollars. We should do everything we can to reduce inefficiencies, strive to minimize and reduce taxes and work hard at reducing government’s negative influence on its residents and businesses. It's about what's in your best interests, something that our city government and staff doesn't always place at the top of their priorities.

Remember, Cooper City residents are now able to watch our City Commission meetings live on the Internet at http://www.coopercityfl.org. Residents can instantly replay all or part of the meetings at their convenience through a link on the City’s web site.

I am deeply honored to represent and serve Cooper City’s residents and business owners. I am open to your comments and concerns and would like to continue to help resolve your problems regarding city issues and requirements.

Most importantly, don’t miss the opportunity to vote in our city election on November 2nd. Thank you for your support and your vote on Nov. 2nd!

Have a great summer, stay safe and remember to slow down and look out for the children out of school and playing in our neighbor hoods. Enjoy your weekend!
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