Next week's Hallandale Beach budget meetings will be a forum for hard and long-overdue questions to FINALLY be asked in public, with honest answers required. Hallandale Beach residents and Small Business owners are in no mood to roll-over and take it like they've been forced to do the past dozen-plus years, as city/CRA funds were wasted in every way imaginable, with no genuine oversight or accountability by people whose jobs it was to provide both!
Updated and Corrected August 23, 2017 at 11:35 PM
To quote myself:
"many LONG OVERDUE actions will need to be taken by the HB City Commission to ensure that steps are being taken so that genuine financial accountability will FINALLY be undertaken that protects the city's residents and Small Business owners immediate and long-term future needs
It's hardly surprising that some of those necessary actions will cause some immediate pain and hardship to more than a few people, mostly city employees.
But in my opinion, however painful, these cost-cutting moves need to take place now because despite what Mayor Joy Cooper has been saying to her loyal minions and acolytes around the city and to the news media, such as it is, Hallandale Beach is in very dire financial situation.
Not quite where the City of Hollywood finds itself now financially, but not so far behind that the situation in HB could not be MUCH WORSE if bad and preposterous decisions of the sort that had become normalized at HB City Hall continue.
Preposterous decisions that continually rewarded poor performance and completely-inadequate oversight, and put HB taxpayers behind the financial eight-ball.
In my opinion, that's because rather than making some hard-but-necessary decisions in the past, of making some necessary sacrifices towards the long-term good, the Cooper Rubber Stamp Crew borrowed and borrowed and borrowed. And to what end?
Too often, to pay current operating expenses, the worst possible reason if done more than once for a non-emergency. It has been my experience over the years that there are more than a few residents and city employees in HB who have a completely unrealistic opinion as to what the proper function and purpose of a city government is.
As I expect will be shown next week, finally, the city's core function is NOT to provide a job and a good-paying pension to anyone with a heartbeat, regardless of their ability and actual performance.
This particular city budget will be the first one that will be examined in depth by three people on the Commission -Keith London, Michelle Lazarow and Anabelle Taub- who genuinely want MORE public accountability and oversight over how city funds are spent since I first returned to South Florida in late 2003, after 15 years of living and working in the Washington, D.C area.
That's a very long time for hard-working people and Small Business owners in HB to have to wait for the sort of overdue common sense and hard questions that are normal pretty much everywhere else in cities when it comes to budgets.
More than a few of HB's Small Business owners have moved out of town specifically because of the combination of foolish financial and public policy decision-making being done at HB City Hall, often based on which of the Cooper Rubber Stamp Crew's friends could benefit from city funds.
Many of them are the very same people who were given a look by the Broward Inspector General.
Names that I have mentioned on this blog many times over the years, and spoken to many of the same people reading this now, including print and TV reporters..
But in Hallandale Beach, for years under big-spending and thin-skinned Mayor Joy Cooper, the tradition for the City Commission was to essentially tell every Dept. head and every bureaucrat appearing before them at budget time that they were doing a really great job.
Somehow, everyone is in charge yet nobody is responsible!
And then the City Commission would borrow money from their Reserves to give them baubles and gloss that would make this city appear semi-normal, when it was anything but that.
For far too long, collectively, the five-member HB City Commission did NOT take their financial oversight responsibilities seriously at this time of the year, with some members NEVER asking one question, even when it came to funding the largest Departments in the city.
Clearly those days are gone!
Tuesday, August 29th and Wednesday, August 30th, 2017, at 11:00 AM
Details and attachments:
Wednesday August 30th Workshop - 11:00 AM
Please review the third budget workshop meeting backup material scheduled for this .Attached is a PDF presentation compiled by City Manager Carlton and his staff.
- Approximately $30 million in reserves were burned through in the last five years, with little to nothing to show for the wasted dollars. Page 11
- Healthcare costs have exploded and are unsustainable. Page 28-29
- The number of full-time employees has grown over 20%.
- The community benefit program was never transparently evaluated in the past and now we have realized the program was not delivering any value to the city while the cost was over $200,000 per year. Page 21
- Under the prior administration, the Ansin Boulevard storage lot was purchased for approximately $1 million over assessed value and there was little to no accountability or documentation proving the revenue or chain of custody of dollars due to the city of Hallandale Beach taxpayers Page 52-53.
- The prior administration, under the poor leadership of Mayor Cooper, raided the vehicle replacement fund for approximately $1.2 million, leaving the city with another deficit.
- The city's contribution to the police and fire pension fund this year is $8,675,861 Page 72.
- The cost of the Police and Fire pension is 58.95% of police and fire sworn employees’ salaries.This percentage coupled with all other fringe benefits is 76.98% of salary costs.
- The unfunded liability for the police and fire pension fund is $64,428,556 Page 73.
- Last year, overtime paid to employees in the City of Hallandale Beach was approximately $400,000 even though the number of employees has grown by 20%.
Keeping you informed,