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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1 comment:

  1. The Cooper City Commission majority voted last night to increase the cap on the ad valorem (millage) tax to 5.0479 mils. Those that voted YES were Mayor Debby Eisinger, Commissioner Neal de Jesus and Commissioner James Curran.


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