After leveling off last year following 4 years of decline, property values seem to have turned a corner and have ticked up 3.7% this year, easing pressure on county and municipal budgets. As the county has cranked up the millage rate as the valuations fell, will they now start to decrease them? Apparently not.
The June budget package, to be discussed at the first hearing next Tuesday at 6:00pm, proposes an increase in the millage from 4.7815 to 4.8164. This would generate $624.9 million – $25.3M or 4.2% more than last years adopted tax of about $600M.
The additional funds are allocated about $19.5M to the Sheriff (see note below regarding Sheriff’s budget), and $7.3M to the countywide BCC departments. (note: these add up to $26.8M not $25.3M, but that is how it is described in the Weisman cover letter). Much of this will go to pay increases for employees (3% to county workers, 2% to PBSO in addition to their contracted longevity and step raises). The “personal services” (ie. employee) budget for the Sheriff increases by over 6%.
Many commission priorities were NOT addressed in the new spending, including $300K additional funding for the homeless resource center, $5M for road resurfacing, $2.7M for Palm Tran service enhancements and $547K for Youth Empowerment Centers. It will be interesting to see if a constituency emerges to fund these things and raise taxes even further.
Library and Fire/Rescue millage is expected to be unchanged.
We think that raising the millage this year in the face of improving valuations and economic conditions would be a mistake. Yes, there is pent-up demand for additional spending (isn’t that always true in government?), and some growth is justified, but flat millage would already provide some $20M in new revenue. Raising the millage now is a slap at the county property owners, many of whom are still struggling along with the economy. The incremental revenue to be had with the proposed hike is small – surely a way can be found to defer that much until next year and keep faith with the taxpayer.
Come to the meeting next Tuesday and let the commissioners hear what you think of this proposal. The special interests who want spending increases for their programs will be there. Don’t let them be the only voices.
The meeting will start at 6:00pm in the commission chambers, 301 N. Olive, 6th floor.
NOTE: The Sheriff requested a gross budget of $510.1 million or 8.2% ($38M) over the FY 2013 gross budget. The net ad valorem funded budget is up $19.5 million (4.8%). Subsequent to his budget submission, the proposed budget was revised to assume his capital request of $10.6 million will be financed in FY 2014. The estimated debt service has been included in the proposed budget.
On Thursday March 28, the County Budget Task Force of the Town of Palm Beach, a TAB coalition partner, chaired by Mayor Gail Coniglio, hosted County Administrator Bob Weisman, OFMB Director Liz Bloeser and Budget Director John Wilson for some insight into the coming budget cycle.
After several years of increasing millage, last year was significant in that the millage was unchanged, and the slight (0.7%) uptick in valuations after 5 years of declines yielded a few million more in revenue. Although it is still early, the departments have not done their budget estimates, and the Sheriff (2/3 of the ad-valorem county-wide budget) will not make his request until May, Mr. Weisman intends to seek flat millage once again. (Note: With the property appraiser’s early forecast at + 1.5%, that could generate an additional $9M in property taxes.)
In a wide-ranging presentation, the Administrator highlighted some situations that have bearing on the 2014 budget:
- The communications workers and transit workers (Palm Tran) unions were offered a small increase for September but are holding out for more. The county does not plan to change their offer.
- The Palm Tran worker’s pensions are in a separate plan from FRS (Florida Retirement System) used by the rest of the county, and are underfunded. The county is on the hook for $9M ($3M per year for three years) to increase its funding level.
- His general instruction to staff departments is to hold the line – no refill of vacant positions again this year.
- The Sheriff (as usual) is the biggest variable, spending $400M (mostly on employee pay and benefits), compared to $270M for the county staffs.
- Fire Rescue is about to conclude a new contract next month, for two years with no increases and 3% in the third year. New hire salaries will be reduced going forward, although there have been no new hires in four years. The contract will be less expensive than the previous period.
- Clerk Sharon Bock, who is in charge of the county investment portfolio has shifted much of the balance from relatively high performing instruments (primarily mortgage backed Frannie Mae securities) to short term bonds. This reflects a changing outlook on the future economy (presumably higher interest rates), but will present a shortfall in portfolio earnings this year.
- The Mecca Farms deal with the South Florida Water Management District appears to be dead. The $30M offered is less than the property is worth, and conditions have changed in two years. With Vavrus likely to be developed next door, Mecca may be worth something closer to the $60M that was paid for it, and several developers have approached the county to discuss options.
- Overall debt levels (and carrying costs) are declining.
- Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher has under spent her budget and returned a million or so.
- The sequestor will affect the county in two areas – Head Start and Senior Services (meals, etc.) By eliminating bus service for the Head Start students, they can absorb the cuts without reducing the program.
- A relatively new expense going forward is $5M per year for the Homeless Resource Center, off-budget at inception but strongly supported by the Board of Commissioners.
The meeting was upbeat and provided a good snapshot at this point in the cycle, and was much appreciated by the task force members.
Some dates to keep in mind: On May 1, the Sheriff will deliver his budget request. On June 1, the Property Appraisor will have his estimate of valuations. Then on June 11, the first budget workshop will take place at 6:00pm in the commission chambers, 301 North Olive.
Last evening, at the final hearing on the 2013 county budget, a 4.7815 millage rate was adopted, unchanged from last year.
Compared to the contentious budgets of the last three years, where rates went up 14.9%, 9.3% and 0.7% respectively, this was a pleasant change. Missing was the Kubuki dance by the program constituents whose perogatives were threatened, the standoffs between the Administrator and the Sheriff, and battles with taxpayer advocates over the millage rate, the use of reserves, and the potential sale of county property to make ends meet. Some funds were even restored to address road maintenance that has been routinely deferred.
In a presentation by Bob Weisman at the last budget hearing earlier in the month, the trend in ad-valorem equivalent spending was shown to have converged on the “TABOR” line – that measurement of population growth and inflation that is a gauge of “acceptable” spending growth. What that means is that if spending had risen only as fast as inflation and the expanding population since 2003, the spending level would be what it is today. Of course the fact that spending was quite a bit above that line for most of the period indicates that in good times, restraint is hard to find.
Much of this spending restraint came at the expense of the county departments, as the “gorilla in the room” is the PBSO budget which at almost $480M has grown over 70% since 2003. With 83% of that figure tied to salary and benefits, expect much discussion of that figure going forward.
TAB has typically been critical of the budgets of recent years, but this year we are satisfied that flat millage without significant program cuts was appropriate. Going forward though, as housing recovers and valuations start up again (they bottomed this year), we will remain vigilant, and hope that the “TABOR” discipline has caught on. With Commissioner Santamaria already calling for raises for all employees, we shall see.
Here are the Post and Sun-Sentinel accounts of the meeting:
- Palm Beach County approves $3.2 billion budget, holding tax revenues steady
- Palm Beach County avoids property tax increase
In the following graph, the dotted line represents “TABOR” – indicating that population and inflation supported a 36% cumulative growth in spending. As you can see, ad-valorem spending has come down to that line, with valuations and adopted tax leveling off. The decline in gross spending seems to be influenced by a sharp dropoff in “intergovernmental” revenue – federal and state grants and the like. That category fell to $391M from $523M in 2012.
Throwing good money after bad – Convention Center headlines from cities across the country – Part 2 of 3
A recent article in the Sun-Sentinel found Orlando to be tops in the US for meetings July 2011-June 2012. “After Orlando, the company found the next most popular cities for meetings and events are in order: Washington DC, Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago, San Diego, Phoenix, Atlanta, Dallas and New Orleans.” “Miami is No. 4, Fort Lauderdale No. 30 and Boca Raton No. 43”.
So – let’s look at how some cities’ convention centers or HQ hotels are faring by looking at some recent 2010-2012 headlines…
Miami: Voters on Tuesday supported a Miami Beach bed tax increase to fund convention center improvements. But if and when a tax increase happens depends on city commissioners and a public corruption investigation. – August 2012
“The commission voted in December to bid out a $1 billion convention center district project that aims to have developers renovate the convention center, build an adjacent hotel and redesign and lease the surrounding publicly owned acres into an iconic complex. That project, however, remains in the early stages due largely to a public corruption investigation into whether the city’s then-purchasing director tainted the bidding process.”
Washington D.C: The sorry saga of the D.C. convention center hotel – Feb 2010
“I understand there may be reasons to subsidize a convention center hotel that agrees to set aside 80 percent of its rooms during peak season for low-margin convention business. But if the hotel really requires this much of a subsidy, then it raises a serious question about the economics of a project that, at best, is expected to increase convention spending in the city by $100 million a year. Right now, it looks as though the benefit of all those subsidies will be fully captured by convention attendees, the convention hotel’s developers and perhaps the owners of the city’s other hotels. If all goes well, the taxpayers will get their money back, but not much more.”
Ft. Lauderdale: Fort Lauderdale to take $13 million hit as it loses its biggest convention – July 2012
“Leaders at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau said it’s unlikely that a single convention can replace the business lost from ARVO. So the bureau is working to bring in several smaller events that might fill as many rooms as ARVO: about 24,000 room nights a year.
But competition for groups is stiff because big convention center destinations such as Orlando and Las Vegas no longer wait for mega-events. They go after smaller conventions that pieced together can fill up their space — events that would more typically go to smaller venues.
“Fort Lauderdale competes with everyone in the United States, just as we do, as it relates to small and medium shows,” said Gary Sain, president of Visit Orlando.”
Daytona Beach, FL: If We Build More Will They Come? – June 2012
Raleigh, NC: Raleigh Convention Center: Throwing Good Money after Bad – February 2012
Boston, MA: Panel Proposes Convention Center Hotel – March 2011
Pittsburgh, PA: New Convention Center Hotel is Stalled – March 2012
Salt Lake City, UT: Salt Lake City officials Balk at subsidy for Megahotel – August 2011
Portland, OR: Oregon Convention Center Hotel Gets Another Chance at Life – August 2012
Virginia Beach, VA: Virginia Beach convention center hotel deal killed – February, 2012
There are many more articles for many more cities – but each story just confirms the speciousness of the arguments and the lack of metrics or proof of economic impact.
As the BCC considers the possible sale of the Mecca Farms property to the South Florida Water Management District, it is useful to consider the history of this site, and its relationship to the Vavrus Ranch which is just now being considered for development. (See: Blockbuster deal for Vavrus Ranch in the works)
The 1919 acre Mecca Farms, initially the preferred site for the Scripps Biotech industrial park, was to be accompanied by a residential development on the adjacent Vavrus ranch, presumably a “science ghetto” where the Scripps employees and their families would buy houses. Pushed by then Governor Jeb Bush and Commissioner Mary McCarty, the Business Development Board signed options for both parcels in 2003, prior to a final decision by Scripps. Scripps ultimately moved to their current Abacoa location when environmental lawsuits became a significant obstacle and a judge reversed the Corps of Engineers approval of the project.
According to Randy Schultz in the Post on May 25 (The best deal they’ll get):
Source:Sun Sentinel, 2/2005
As reported in the South Florida Business Journal in February of 2005, a division of Lennar held a joint option with Centex to buy Vavrus and planned 9-10,000 homes. The option was held by EDRI (Economic Development Research Institute), a nonprofit established by the BDB, who later transferred it to Lennar/Centex for $1.5M up front plus $51M on closing.
As reported in the Boca News on 8/3/2004, Mecca Farms itself was purchased by the county after a hastily convened meeting of four of the seven Commissioners voted 3-1 to proceed. Voting yes were Burt Aaronson, Karen Marcus and Mary McCarty, with Addie Greene voting no. The reason for the haste was that then Clerk Dorothy Wilkin was holding $1.4M of funds intended to clear the citrus trees off the site and the commissioners wanted to proceed.
Development got started early too, with Catalfumo Construction hired to build the roads on the site, and AKA services to build a 9 mile water pipe extension along SR7, 40th Street, 140th Street North and Grapeview Blvd. In total, the county spent $40M on planning and site prep and $51M for the pipeline, in addition to the $60M for the land.
The 2009 Grand Jury Report on public corruption in the county had this to say:
“The county eventually purchased the 2,000 acre Mecca Farms grove site for approximately $60 million dollars. Palm Beach County paid $30,000 per acre for land that credible evidence indicated was worth a maximum $10,000 to $15,000 per acre. With improvements to the site and area, the county expended approximately $100 million dollars to acquire and improve the Mecca site. Ultimately, Mecca Farms was never approved for development and the Scripps project was sited and built near Abacoa in Jupiter. Palm Beach County now owns and maintains at taxpayer’s expense the 2,000 acres of unimproved and undeveloped property known as the Mecca site.”
“The Mecca site transaction and other transactions lend credence to the perception of cronyism, unfair access and corruption of the land acquisition process. The Grand Jury repeatedly heard testimony of intense political pressure put on local government in land deals. Witnesses referred to the political atmosphere surrounding land deals as being a feeding frenzy.”
“The Grand Jury finds that a glaring deficiency in how land deals are handled by Palm Beach County is the overvaluation of property for purchase and undervaluation of property for sale or trade. A number of witnesses testified that when the county buys property, it overpays, and when the county sells property, it sells too cheaply. The Grand Jury examined a number of documents, received testimony and reviewed reports that support this buy high and sell low charge.”
The current offer for Mecca is $30M in cash plus about 1700 acres of land puported to be worth $25M. Mecca is appraised in the PAPA database at about $50M. The $30M cash is not sufficient to pay off the remaining $45M in debt incurred in the Mecca purchase (with $6.5M / year in debt service), nor will it recoup the $91M investment in infrastructure.
Vavrus is carried on the PAPA books as owned by WIFL, LLC. It is split into 11 parcels with a total 2011 appraisal of $68.5M and a taxable value of less than $1M.
With a Vavrus development now being considered, it would be helpful to know if the pipeline costs can be recovered by supplying the new development, and what affect (if any) a large development next to Mecca would have on its appraisal, and intended use by SFWMD for water storage.
The then ill-advised purchase of Mecca was rushed into without due diligence. Let’s not make the same mistake on its sale. In particular, let not a future grand jury say “..when the county buys property, it overpays, and when the county sells property, it sells too cheaply”.
Today the County Commission voted 6-1 to allocate $57M ($27M direct subsidy plus $20M loan guarantee plus $10M cost of the land) toward a 400 room hotel next to the Convention Center. The county would actually own both the land and the building.
Who are the winners and losers in this “public / private partnership”?
First, let’s stipulate that the convention center needs a “headquarters hotel” to make it viable for more than the occasional home show or local meeting. It really wasn’t necessary for the hordes of dark suited businessmen to assure the commissioners of that fact, or that a viable convention center would be good for businesses in the vicinity. Even the Scuba Association and Lion Country Safari came to make that point. People who spend time at conventions can vouch for the fact that needing a 10 minute shuttle ride to and from an event is not conducive to networking or making the most of the convention experience.
Second, lets also stipulate that some amount of public money or other incentive is probably necessary to launch the project, given that nothing is happening without it.
Third, lets acknowledge the fact (that Commissioners Aaronson and Santamaria have done in some detail) that as a business deal, the current proposal is a perfectly awful investment that no sane person would make willingly. On a monetary basis, the county will not see returns for a long time (if ever), and neither the county nor the city of West Palm Beach stand to receive ad-valorem tax revenue on the hotel property.
The winners in this deal are the developer and operator, who have much of their risk assumed by the taxpayers, the businesses in the immediate vicinity that will see increased revenues from conventions (Kravis Center, City Place, Clematis Street, perhaps the Palm Beach restaurants), and the Town of West Palm Beach which would experience growth and an increased tax base from rising valuations associated with new business (even if they get no taxes from the hotel itself). The county commission is also a winner in a moral sense as there would be vindication for hatching a white elephant if it can be made successful,
The losers are the taxpayers who assume the risk of failure (what if they don’t come?), and default on the development loan, and the several million dollars a year of general fund interest payments on the bonds. Bed tax revenue, which can be expected to increase, is restricted in use and cannot offset the drain on the general fund.
Some specific problems we have with the funding plan:
1. Regarding the $20M loan guarantee, think Solyndra. It is similar in two ways – taxpayers take the fall on failure, and the deal pays the taxpayers last as the county sees no revenue until the operator has recouped 10% of their investment or $7M. Solyndra was heralded as a great investment – until it wasn’t.
2. The benefits accrue in geographic proximity to the hotel and flow mostly to West Palm Beach. Yet the citizens of Boca Raton, Jupiter, Wellington and others are asked to pay for it through their property taxes.
3. The existing hotels in the area have large meeting rooms and can support “small” conventions, perhaps to the 500-600 range. The Convention Center is designed to handle up to 6000 according to its website. It is difficult to see how a 400 room headquarters hotel would be make a dent in meeting a need of that size. At some point we expect we will be asked for more money because “the center needs a BIGGER hotel to make it viable”, and the developer does not have the business plan to expand.
4. The data presented to support the project assumptions seem optimistic. The 75% occupancy, the percentage of public investment in convention center projects, the estimates of convention business, the effect on the surrounding area – none of this feels right. Is convention activity nationwide growing? Some studies suggest not. If not, are we poaching from Fort Lauderdale? From Boca Raton? Only public/private projects were included in the averages for amount of public investment for convention center projects. Are there some success stories without public investment? If so where and why? Since the county taxpayers are shouldering the lion’s share of the risk, have the risks been understated? We will be examining these “projections” in a future article.
Today it was wishful thinkers 6, taxpayers 1. Thank you Commissioner Abrams for not drinking the kool-aid.
On Tuesday, July 10, the Commissioners will set the proposed maximum millage rate based on the July budget package prepared by staff, which recommends keeping the county-wide millage flat at 4.7815.
The agenda item will be discussed on Tuesday, July 10, at 2:15pm (time certain) in the county building at 301 N. Olive, WPB.
This rate is an improvement over the small increase in millage that was proposed in June, reflecting increased valuation estimates from the Property Appraiser.
Is this really an improvement over the June package as a whole? What about compared to last year?
We have opposed millage increases in the past as the valuations were decreasing, with the goal of seeing county spending return to levels that are sustainable as measured by population and inflation. Compared to 2003, the ad-valorem equivalent budget has approached the so-called “TABOR” line, but with valuations bottoming out, we begin a new phase where rising valuations should be accompanied by declining millage rates.
The following table compares millage, proposed tax and ad-valorem equivalent spending between the 2012 budget, the June package and this July package:
|2012 Budget||June Package||July Package||Net Change from 2012|
|Proposed Tax||$595,388,733||$599,257,607||$599,618,457||+ $4.2M (0.7%)|
|Proposed Tax||$175,610,575||$176,358,065||$177,006,499||+ $1.4M (0.8%)|
|County Wide||$280M||$283M||$284M||+ $3.9M (+1.4%)|
|Library & F/R||$228M||$229M||$230M||+ $1.8M (0.8%)|
|Judicial & Other||$5.1M||$4.8M||$4.9M||- .2M (-4%)|
|Sheriff & Const.||$439M||$444M||$444M||+ $5M (1.2%)|
|Total||$952.1M||$960.7M||$962.6M||+ $10.5M (1.1%)|
As you can see from the table, compared to June, the millage is less but the proposed tax is slightly higher. Compared to 2012, the proposed tax is $4.2M higher county-wide and $1.4M in Fire Rescue. But the biggest difference is on the spending side of the equation, with Ad Valorem Equivalent rising $10.5M over 2012, half of that at PBSO.
So here is our net:
On Tuesday, a sea of yellow shirts packed the commission chambers. None of the shirt wearers, who are members of IAFF local 2928 as well as employees of County Fire Rescue, took the podium to speak. That wasn’t why they were there. As acting union President Ricky Grau spoke in favor of “three men on a truck” and accused the county of understating the amount of reserves they have to spend, the sea of yellow shirts were there to send a not so subtle message to the commissioners.
What was the issue that brought out the troops? They objected to the action taken by Chief Steve Jerauld and Fire Rescue leadership in April to reduce the staffing on some EMS vehicles from three to two under some circumstances. This has reduced the amount of paid overtime. The Chief has assured the Commissioners and the public that in no way had public safety been compromised by this move. The savings are estimated to be $7.8M per year. Although no vote was taken, and only Karen Marcus and Burt Aaronson spoke strongly in favor of restoring the three man crews, staff took that as marching orders and agreed to spend the extra money.
None of this discussion involves any increase in millage or other revenue enhancement, and we believe that drawing down “excessive” reserves – stipulated by all sides to be “at least” $50M is the right thing to do. We also agree with Commissioner Marcus that IF the county policy is indeed “three men/women on a truck”, then it makes more operational and fiscal sense to fully staff the positions rather than paying overtime to a reduced staff. But should a bona fide attempt by the Chief to save taxpayer money by increasing efficiency at no risk to public safety be so quickly rebuffed?
The IAFF is a political force in the county and elected officials cross them at their own risk. The Fire Rescue collective bargaining agreement expired last September and they are currently working without a contract after a year of “negotiations” that led nowhere. Both sides (to their credit) were not suggesting pay increases in this economy, yet a county proposal for a 22% reduction in starting salary for new hires was never even acknowledged by the union. To see the Commissioners buckle over a truck staffing rule before the yellow shirted troops does not bode well for any substantive discussions in the future.
Fire Rescue funding is headed for a showdown when the reserves can no longer be tapped. As some cities are near their millage caps, the Fire Rescue millage has been flat since 2010 and revenue has trended down with property valuations. Spending on the other hand, mostly driven by escalating personal service costs built into the existing contract, contines to rise. Something has to give. We think the overly generous pay and benefits (compared to Fire Rescue national averages) need to be addressed. That is not likely in the game plan though and it would not surprise us to hear more talk of sales tax surcharges in the years to come.
Wisconsin was a wake up call to the public employee unions. Perhaps some of Governor Walker’s courage will rub off on our elected officals too.
For the Palm Beach Post editorial on the subject by Andrew Marra, see: Fire-Rescue headed for a financial emergency
On June 18, eight grassroots, civic and political clubs came together to sponsor a candidate debate for the County Commission District 1 primary on August 14. Moderated by local radio personality Tom Boyhan, the three candidates were asked six questions of county-wide interest, chosen from a list of twelve that had been given to the candidates in advance. They were also asked for a brief opening and closing statement. Below you will find a summary of the event, with the questions, their answers, and a link to a video of that section of the forum.
Click on the candidate’s picture for a short biography.
The event was well attended, and quite a few elected officials joined us, including: District 1 Commissioner Karen Marcus, from Palm Beach Gardens Mayor David Levy, Vice Mayor Bert Premuroso, and council members Joe Russo and Marcie Tinsley, Juno Beach Vice Mayor Bill Greene, Tequesta Mayor Tom Paterno, Lake Worth Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell, Jupiter Inlet District Commissioner Patricia Walker, Republican State Committewoman Fran Hancock, and PBCGOP Chair Sid Dinerstein.
Sponsors of the event were the PBC Taxpayer Action Board and their coalition partners South Florida 912, Palm Beach County Tea Party, and Singer Island Civic Association, along with the Republican clubs of Palm Beach, Northern Palm Beaches, the Palm Beaches, and the Jupiter/Tequesta Repbublican Organization.
Some pictures from the event.
In preparation for the first budget workshop of the 2013 cycle next week, the county has published their proposal. The workshop will be held on Tuesday, June 12 at 6:00pm in the county building at 301 N. Olive, WPB.
Unlike the last few years which Administrator Weisman has called “the most difficult budget year the county has faced”, bottoming valuations have created a less austere outlook. With the expectation of a barely perceptible 0.39% drop in property values reported by Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits, (See: Has free-falling Palm Beach County real estate finally hit bottom? ) the days of trying to save programs and spending levels by big hikes in the tax rate may be coming to an end.
The county proposal is therefore modest – a 0.4% hike in the county-wide millage rate to 4.7984 (up from 4.7815 last year), and a 0.6% or $3.9M hike of taxes collected. There are no projected cuts to “vocal constituent” programs like the nature centers, lifeguards or Palm Tran Connection, and even though the Sheriff is asking for an increase of $4.7M in ad-valorem revenue and $8.8M in appropriation, it is mitigated somewhat from a “return of excess fees” of $10M.
What had been expected to be a $15-30M problem this year, was positively affected by smaller than expected costs associated with FRS, and the use of “one-time” sources such as sweeping funds from Risk Management, capital project and Fleet Management reserves. Given TAB’s emphasis last year on using reserves to cover shortfalls in the difficult times, we are glad to see this development.
The entire proposal is good news, considering how hard everyone worked last year to bring the initial proposal (3.6% increase in rates) down to the final 0.6%. Although we think that it would be an appropriate gesture for the board to keep the millage flat (at a cost of the $3.9M hike), as they are doing with the Library and Fire/Rescue MSTUs, if this proposal was approved as submitted we would not object.
That said, there are some cautionary statements in the proposal. It is mentioned that 35 positions (half of them filled) will be eliminated without a service impact, by various good management practices and the expiration of grant funding of temporary positions. It is also stated that general county employees have not received a raise since 2008. There is also interest in some quarters to increase spending on some programs.
We ask that the commissioners not try to address these things in this budget year. The private economy has not yet fully recovered, even if property values are leveling off. Consequently, we call on TAB partners and supporters to stay vigilant, attend the budget meetings, and let your commissioners know you don’t support any increases above the submitted proposal.
For the Post’s view of the proposal, see: County budget proposal: less gloom and doom