Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Don't worry it's just your money!

Throughout this blog, I have always advocated for thrift and good management of taxpayers' dollars by our cities, counties and the state of Florida.

As a real estate agent, I observe every day how excessive taxation has a major effect on home-ownership. At about 2% per year on the value of your home, added to Florida high insurance premiums, (as well as out-of-control condominium fees) it is an overwhelming factor that often discourages buyers.
Property Taxes and routine expenses are often higher than the basic monthly payment of the related mortgage loan.
The generosity with which taxpayers' dollars are spent with no other consideration than "if it's there we must get it", is far out of the traditional values of thrift and austerity that should be the norm in times of recession, hardship, and high unemployment.

The same criteria we follow in our home budgets should be applied by our city commissioners.
They can’t just spend and seek the revenue later. Because most possibly, you and me will be stuck with the bill.

I heard that a former manager of Hallandale Beach, who was making an outrageous salary, (and doing a pretty bad job), was fired at an usually high cost to the city.
The present interim manager assumed his functions just a few months ago.
He will possibly get a bonus of $15,000.
Why is it that the city had to consider this bonus request so soon?
Do you ask your boss for a raise two or three months after you were hired?

Trust me, I hate getting involved in local politics. I would just like to see less pomp and circumstance, less meetings and bureaucracy, less formalities, forms, regulations, and a more down-to-earth management of citizens' money.

Our elected officers should start understanding that they have a mandate to gradually reduce their cities' budgets, because they are inflated and unaffordable.

In South Florida, we are famous for our dozens of municipalities all along the coast, each with its commissioners, offices, firemen, water departments, police departments, and miscellaneous levels of managers, technocrats, and bureaucrats.
While this proliferation of local governments could, in some people's minds, be an advantage of de-centralized government, don’t you think that we can't afford it anymore? Is this really a good idea?

I'd like to hear some comments.

I read this on August 9th, in The Miami Herald:
You would think city commissioners and Mayor J.C. would know better by now. In 2007 the commission and the Mayor gave themselves a whopping $55,000 pay raise without bothering to notify the public first.
As a result, a hailstorm of outrage from local residents rained down on City Hall, and the chastised officials rescinded the raises.
But now city officials are up to the same old game: Hastily and secretly spending taxpayers' money like it grows on trees. First, they were so desperate to get rid of former City Manager Mike Good that they agreed to pay him an overly generous severance package worth $366,653 in total.
Now, the mayor and commission majority want to reward interim City Manager Mark Antonio with a $15,000 bonus on top of his $145,000 annual salary. And, if it hadn't been for Commissioner Keith London, they would have signed the bonus check without benefit of public notice or input.
The talk of a bonus for Mr. Antonio came at the end of long budget workshop session that lasted past midnight last week. Residents had left, and while a video camera was recording the session, the broadcast of the meeting had gone off the air.
The commission turned to an evaluation of Mr. Antonio and generally praised his work. That prompted the interim manager to ask for a $25,000 bonus. Mayor Cooper countered with an offer of $10,000.
Eventually the $15,000 figure was negotiated.

That's when Mr. London blew the whistle for a timeout, saying a vote on the award of the bonus should happen in a public meeting for residents to observe and comment on.
So, eager for some reason to ensure that Mr. Antonio gets his bonus sooner rather than later, the commission set a special meeting for 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall for the bonus vote.
Mysteriously, they just couldn't wait for the next scheduled commission meeting.
Commissioners and Mayor Cooper had better be prepared to justify why Mr. Antonio deserves a bonus simply for doing what he was hired to do.

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