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. Photo in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A, September 2008; March 2018 photo below of HB's North Beach and southern Hollywood Beach, looking left-to-right, looking north, HYDE Condominium, Etaru Japanese Robatayaki restaurant, and Hollywood Beach in the distance, with umbrellas. All photos by me, © Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Last minute thoughts from me and Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Keith London regarding today's city budget meeting

Per my last blog post, about the City of Hallandale Beach's 2017-2018 city and CRA budgets, titled, 
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

http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2017/08/next-weeks-hallandale-beach-budget.html

this morning I and many other concerned people in the area received some last minute thoughts from Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Keith London regarding today's city budget meeting.

In his email, below, he echoes many of the same specific things things that I've been writing on this blog for many years -and last week- about the precarious nature of the city's financial health, given the mountain of bad and foolish spending choices and priorities that have been made by the Joy Cooper-led Rubber Stamp Crew that got nearly everything the Mayor's way the past dozen-plus years she's been running/mismanaging things.

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!
Finally 

Hallandale Beach City Commission - Budget Special Meeting Workshop, held at City Commission Chambers, 400 South Federal Highway

Tuesday, August 29th and Wednesday, August 30th, 2017, at 11:00 AM 
Details and attachments: 
-----

Please review the third budget workshop meeting backup material scheduled for this Tuesday August 29 at 11 AM.Attached is a PDF presentation compiled by City Manager Carlton and his staff. 

Taxpayers should be aware of how dire the situation Commissioner Michele Lazarow, Commissioner Anabelle Taub and I have inherited from the prior administration. 
  • 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%.
I look forward to seeing all of you Tuesday, August 29 at 11 AM for our next budget discussion. Please review the PDF attached and email me any questions or comments you may have. 

Keeping you informed,
Vice Mayor Keith London

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