Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden. In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Long-term financials at Hollywood and Hallandale Beach City Halls are likely shakier than they appear; 'Mayor Joy Cooper: "I don’t want to adversely affect our services.” 'Since when has she concerned herself with quality of services? Quite the opposite!


We would like [the tax rate] to be lower, but we have a lot of expenses this year,” said Mayor Joy Cooper after the commission tentatively approved the tax rate this week. “I don’t want to adversely affect our services.”

As quoted in the Miami Herald over the weekend.
To which I can only say, since when has she concerned herself with quality of services? 
Quite the opposite!
The evidence is all around you that you are NOT getting what you've paid for.

Miami Herald
Hallandale Beach residents likely will pay more in taxes  
Hallandale Beach leaders approve a tentative tax rate, which will help pay for additional city services.
By Carli Teproff
Posted June 23, 2012

With two new parks facilities and a push to increase code enforcement and maintenance, Hallandale Beach will have a lot of expenses in the coming year.

And most residents can expect to pay a little bit more in taxes to pay for it all.

So far, the City Commission is leaning toward keeping the tax rate the same as it was this year — $5.90 per $1,000 of assessed property — but with property values going up, that amounts to homeowners paying more.

For a home valued at $200,000, taking the standard $50,000 homestead exemption, the tax bill would be $885, not including school and other taxes.

The city expects to generate about $21.5 million in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. That’s up $700,000, or 3.37 percent, from this year.

“We would like [the tax rate] to be lower, but we have a lot of expenses this year,” said Mayor Joy Cooper after the commission tentatively approved the tax rate this week. “I don’t want to adversely affect our services.”

Costs are up because two new facilities, a city marina and Foster Park will come online this year, said City Manager Renee Crichton. Running the park will up costs for staff and maintenance, she said.

“The city is an excellent position financially, but we still have some challenges we are going to face long-term,” said Crichton.

Commissioner Keith London, who is running against Cooper for mayor, said he thinks the city needs to rein in its spending.

“I think the budget is too high,” said London. “I don’t think we get the value for our dollar.”

City staff has been working on a proposed budget for months now, and the work will continue through the summer. There will be two public hearings in September before the commission votes on a final tax rate.

In the meantime, commissioners said, the staff should look for ways to save money.

Also at the meeting, the commission agreed to raise fire fees by $20 to $145. By raising the fees, the city would see an additional $900,000.
-----

Earlier today, the Balance Sheet Blog in next-door Hollywood, run by Sara Case and Laurie Schecter, posted a thoughtful and important new entry that has an interesting take on the not-so-rosy long-term financial situation in Hollywood, in that despite the positive changes that were made in response to Hollywood voters overwhelmingly passing last September's referendum on city pensions, Larry Leggan experienced and savvy CPA who's looked at all the docs you can think of, still states that the "city is still at a moderate to high level of risk of bankruptcy and/or austerity measures." 
It's well worth reading!


Did you notice that line about Unfunded Pension costs?

That particular number here in Hallandale Beach is one that you never hear mentioned or discussed, much, esp. with respect to how to dig out of that hole, but I know someone who does know exactly what those numbers are, esp. with respect to the largest share of that problem, the Police and Fire/Rescue pensions.
If you've been reading this blog regularly, you know who that person is, too: Csaba Kulin.

Trust me, I've seen the numbers myself and it will make your head explode when you see them laid bare here on the blog very soon.

In a somewhat similar vein, based on the Teproff article at the top from the Herald and the everyday experiences of Hallandale Beach taxpayers and business owners, year-after-year, here's a reasonable question for Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper that Teproff and Tonya Alanez of the Sun-Sentinel might want to ask and actually follow-up on with some examples: How many years in a row has HB used the city's reserve fund simply to balance the city's budget?

Not for legitimate unexpected emergencies, but just to balance the budget, crammed with goodies for some, esp. the professional crony capitalism class here in our small city.

Cooper and her apologists at City Hall and all over town do not want to answer that question for a very good reason.
Because the truth is NOT her friend, and neither is spreading the truth.

Later today I'm heading over to North Beach for my final photo recon for my post on a matter that I had wanted to post Friday morning, Mark A. Antonio's last day as City Manager, but which will now probably run later in the week, now that I've blown past my own deadline.

It concerns the REAL reason that the City of Hallandale Beach's Parks Master Plan meeting on South Beach wasn't held at the North Beach Community Bldg. on May 31st, despite the fact that in a normal city, one where common sense and logic do intersect once in a while, that's where it would have been held for all sorts of patently obvious reasons.

If you guess that the reason probably has something to do with the city's infamous and cumbersome bureaucracy that has consistently shown no idea what's it's actually doing, its trademark inefficiency under Good and Antonio, you'd be right.

Not so much the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing as much as the right hand NOT knowing that it actually has a left hand.

Trust me, it's yet another embarrassing, only-in-Hallandale Beach screw-up, with its usual complete disregard for the taxpayers and citizens of the community.


Yes, just like Antonio's continual disregard for us by insisting that he'd do things his way -the wrong way- even after it was made clear over-and-over in regard to all manner of policy and financial matters that the community felt 100% differently than him.
His complete inability to adapt and evolve was always his most obvious weakness since I've been living here for over eight years.

I had been planned on toasting Antonio's departure on Friday, but absent someone to capture the moment, decided that the best thing I could do was to continue to document how genuinely feckless, ineffective and disconnected to our reality he was 'til the very end.
Incompetency for which he will be rewarded with a pension the size and scope of which will shock people here when they finally see the true figures, though I have a very good idea of it now.

By the way, there's a new Public Records policy in the city.
Guess where it's NOT mentioned? 
Yes, the city's own website.

So, remind me again how come the city's IT Dept. head Ted Lamott still has a job after so many years of ineffectiveness?

Without giving too much away here, the next four months are going to be VERY BUMPY for individual City of HB Dept. heads, so very used to flying below-the-radar publicly, as I and others publicly discuss and analyze what they have done and mostly haven't done with the funds and resources they've been given, with so little oversight by our feckless Commissioners and the departing City Manager, who has been counting the hours he could leave since January 1st.

All with little tangible results to show HB taxpayers for the city's budget having nearly doubled the past six years under Mayor Cooper, the woman with so very little genuine concern about the actual quality of services delivered to taxpayers and business owners.

Yes, on miserably hot days like today, Cooper must surely be thinking a lot about her Colorado
home-away-from-home. 
I aim to do all I can the next few months to help make THAT her primary residence after November, but the real question is whether or not all the pro-reform candidates running for HB City Commission will do the same.

And if they do, will the voters here actually reject the Cooper Rubber Stamp Crew's eye-rolling antics, odd disconnect from reality and financial bumbling, and actually vote with their heads?
Actually give pro-reform candidates the opportunity they need to properly reform this city thru meaningful financial accountability, greater transparency and an injection of plain old common sense to get it out of its current funk?
We'll all know the answer 18 weeks from tomorrow.

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