BCC, 7/20 – Fred Scheibl

Good Morning, my name is Fred Scheibl. I live in Palm Beach Gardens and am a member of South Florida 912, and the TAB coalition.

Having observed the budget process, I’ve noticed several themes:

  • While there is a genuine attempt to cut spending in this difficult year, the cuts are modest. The sum total of all the line items on the “blue” and “green” pages is a few percent of the total budget.
  • Little detail is provided for the parts of the budget with rapid growth – Sheriff and Fire/Rescue.
  • Part of the budget process is theater. A program with a vocal constituency (such as the county pools) is placed on the chopping block as a straw man, and then a large group of concerned users of the program (sometimes known as “astro turf”) is bussed in to a budget meeting, letting the Commission then “save the day”. This is called in some circles, the “squeeky wheel method of government”.

    Well, the time has come for the taxpayer to become the “squeeky wheel”. Those who fund all these county programs should have as much (if not more) of a say then those who benefit from them.

    During the discussion around the Fire/Rescue sales tax proposal, many of us in the community who were opposed to it found that there were lots of like-minded people, and we came together to form the nonewsalestax coalition.

    Now, many of these groups have come together again to present resistance to the 2011 budget. The coalition is called TAB – the “Taxpayer Action Board”, and consists of grassroots groups, as well as business and civic organizations. Some of the members of TAB are with us today, others will be working on projects with us in the coming months. The website is pbctab.org.

    The mission of TAB is public education – let’s shine some light on the way our money is being spent, point out excesses where they exist, and counter what we believe is a lack of sensitivity by the Commission to the concerns of the average taxpayer. We will propose specific spending cuts and build a political constituency to make them happen.

    TAB is to keep “tabs” on you, and to make it known that it is we who pay the “tab”.

    Shortly, you will hear from some other members of the TAB coalition, each talking about their particular focus.

    Specifically, TAB would like to see you:

    • Retain the millage rate unchanged from last year at 4.344
    • Not deplete reserves to maintain elevated spending levels

    Longer term we seek:

    • Significant privatization of county services
    • Compensation parity with the private sector
    • Sustainability guidelines for union contracts
    • A yearly sunset review of all county programs
    • Charter changes to open the silos that are the constitutional offices

    In closing I would like to say it is our desire to cooperate with the Commission and staff. We sense that some of you sincerely desire to control spending, and we hope to provide you with a measure of political cover to do just that. There are many in the community on the “paying” side of the budget that you probably do not hear from too often – we hope to change that and we hope you will help us in this effort. A county that spends responsibly is a county where everybody wins.

    We’re paying the tab and we’re keeping tabs on you.


3 Responses to “BCC, 7/20 – Fred Scheibl”
  1. Victoria Thiel says:

    Well said. Bravo.

  2. Bruce A. McAllister says:

    Dear Fred: I’m a member of the Town of Palm Beach County Budget Task Force, before which I understand you will give a presentation this Monday, 10/25. I for one would be very interested in your thoughts on the Inspector General and the question on the ballot this Nov. 2nd. Although I’m in favor (I think the Town should support the IG), your opinion will carry significant weight.

    Thank you,

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