The TAB Proposal

The first milestone on the TAB agenda was passed on September 2, 2010 with the first public meeting. A package containing the presentations from that meeting, along with supporting material and an executive summary is being delivered to the County Commissioners and Adminstrator on 9/8.

If you would like a copy of that packages, you may print and bind the following files:

NOTE: Budget Director Joe Doucette pointed out an error in my calculation of the millage resulting from the TAB recommended blue page cuts of $30.6M. Please CLICK HERE for the details.

Cover Sheet
Contact Sheet
Executive Summary
Meeting Synopsis
An Analysis of the County Budget Proposal
What Do We Know about PBSO
What Do We Know about Fire/Rescue
Proposal for Identifying and Prioritizing Core Services provided by Palm Beach County
Where Does the $56M Budget Increase Go?
Printable Presentation Charts

BCC 7/20 – Hal Valeche

Hal Valeche from the Taxpayer Action Network. I’m very happy to say that we will be working closely with TAB and I believe we really are achieving critical mass.

I am disappointed that the Board seems likely to recommend collecting approximately the same amount of ad valorem revenue this year as last year, requiring a substantial rate increase once again.

Given that property values are likely to continue to decline over the short term, your action sends a signal to homesteaded taxpayers that they can expect to continue paying more every year. In addition to all the other local taxing authorities who are planning an increase this year, a massive increase in federal taxes will happen on January 1st.

A real recovery has yet to take hold here in South Florida, and we’re certainly not going to speed up its arrival by increasing the burden on our most productive citizens.

I think it’s clear that we’ve gotten to the point where the taxpayers just cannot afford the level of government we’ve been given. I think it’s become mandatory for us to step back from this current cycle of ever-increasing tax rates and seriously re-evaluate everything we do as a government, and by that I mean every program, every department – everything we do. We can’t afford the government we had five years ago, and asking taxpayers to continue to dig deeper to support it is economically self-defeating.

BCC 7/20 – Mike Jones

I am Mike Jones, President and CEO of the Economic Council.

Our organization has consistently advocated trimming government expenses in response to declining tax revenues. We have also engaged independent consultants that have confirmed that our County’s competitiveness could be enhanced by more genuine public-private partnerships and collaboration to share scarce resources. During these difficult economic conditions, the public and private sectors are all doing more with less and taking extraordinary steps to maximize efficiencies. It is important to avoid the temptation of looking back to place fault and blame for our current dire circumstances. Instead, we encourage the public and private sectors work collaboratively and proactively to ensure our community and all its citizens equitably share in the sacrifices as we strive for smart solutions. We discourage increasing the millage rate, fees or assessments unless and until all other options have first been thoroughly explored.

We encourage you to consider all tools at your disposal to make local government more efficient and productive. We are prepared to work with your staff, the constitutional officers, the Taxpayer Action Board and any other interested citizens to realize meaningful savings without sacrificing essential services.

BCC 7/20 – Shannon Armstrong

My name is Shannon Armstrong and I live in Lake Worth. I am the founder and President of the South Florida 912 group. I am very active with my church and in my community. I have 3 children, two in Middle School and one still in Elementary School. My children are 7th generation Floridians and we love living here in Palm Beach County. I am concerned about the spending here in Palm Beach County and the future for my children. My concerns have driven me to create the grass roots action group The South Florida 912 which has been very involved here in Palm Beach County. I am also a member of the TAB coalition.

“Quality of Service stays the same however we need to change how it is delivered.”

We are not asking to close the pools or let criminals out of Jail. We are looking at still keeping the quality of service we are used too. I just want some fresh new ways to look at its delivery. For instance, farming out, services. We can replace some city workers with contractors. The areas we can look at are maintenance, custodial, and EMT as well. Cities around the country are looking at ways to reduce cost and this has proven to be very effective. In the Wall Street Journal an article spoke about a city in San Jose, Calif that was faced with a $118 million budget deficit, “The city recently decided it could no longer afford its own janitors. So the city’s budget called for dropping its custodial staff and hiring outside contractors to clean its city hall and airport, saving about $4 million. To keep all its swimming pools open and staffed, the city is replacing some city workers with contractors.”

Cities and Counties across the country are looking at various options to help keep the quality service, people have come to expect. The key is with out reducing the quality. I believe, we can do that here. Palm Beach County has recently shown some ability to face our issues and move forward. People have been put in jail that have been fraudulent. The County has shown strength in the implementation of an Inspector General. Citizens in Palm Beach County are waking up and getting active. I am very encouraged by this and glad to be a member of TAB. We will continue with our meetings and reviewing the budget. I ask each of you.

Do you want to continue with the progress our county has been making? Do we start being at the forefront of responsible spending. Will we as citizens in this community be able to lift our heads with pride by making a difference here by making some reasonable changes, for example, contracted labor and responsible cuts in spending?

We at TAB are working at a collaborative effort. Together we intend to explore what has worked and what has not. The PBC Taxpayer Action Board is active and concerned, we are not going away.

We’re paying the TAB and we’re keeping TABs on YOU.

BCC 7/20 – Michele Kirk

I would like to speak to you for a moment today about our organization’s role in the Taxpayer Action Board, or TAB Coalition.

One thing that I know about the people, professionals, and business owners of this County is that they are all about SOLUTIONS! Along with workshops, newsletters, and budget study groups, we are committed to sharing our resources and research with one another to help bring about those solutions.

One of the most valuable resources we have found has been the book , “Building A Better Local Government, How To Lower Taxes and Improve services At The Same Time” by Matthew Falconer

I would like to read a brief excerpt from this book and encourage the taxpayers to visit to find out how they can be part of the solution. I especially would like to implore the Commissioners to look at the proven case studies in this book and start exploring steps toward improving the efficiency of this local government body. We will continue to remind taxpayers that we are the one’s picking up the TAB.

Mr. Falconer writes, “Our current local government model is not sustainable. The level of government spending is forcing small businesses to fail at a rapid rate, causing higher unemployment and an increased need for social services. Only through transformative change can we return to economic prosperity. We have a long way to go from the way our government is run to a better government. But the ways and means are there. It is up to you, the taxpayer to demand change. After concluding my study , I came to truly believe that we can reduce the cost of government by 20 % and get 20 % better government services, if we can enact the right reforms.”

BCC 7/20 – Meg Shannon

I am Meg Shannon, Director of Operations for the South Florida Tea Party, which is a coalition partner in TAB, the Palm Beach Taxpayer’s Action Board.
Many government entities and grass roots groups have found ways to make significant spending reductions at the local government level. Here are some examples.

Orange County, FL

A Taxpayer Review Board identified tremendous waste and duplication of services due to a lack of technology and a failure to use private services.

Lake Worth, FL

A recent Palm Beach Post editorial concluded Lake Worth was “talking about real cuts while Palm Beach County commissioners spent the week avoiding them”.

New Jersey

A Citizens’ Campaign issued a “Jersey Call for Service” to inspire 5,000 citizens to participate in the leadership of their communities and reverse the tide of government waste.

San Jose, California: (June 28, 2010 Ventura County Star)

They saved $ 4 million by hiring private contractors for custodial services at $12.83/hour, including benefits, compared to $40.41 for city custodians.

South Florida cities

Sunrise, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, and Fort Lauderdale are cutting back on pension benefits.

Other Examples

Many, many other examples could be discussed, such as Charlotte, NC, Beverly Hills, CA, Orange County, CA, Las Vegas, NV



We ask the Commission to require that all departments of county government, including constitutional offices, cooperate with TAB as it goes about its work. We expect to have a huge reaction from the public as we ask them, including our South Florida Tea Party members and current and former county employees for their suggestions on cost savings. We will look at what has been done in other states and counties.

We expect the support of the news media in shining a spotlight on any failure of county government to work to decrease spending and restructure itself. If necessary, we will pursue state legislative efforts to require local government units to cooperate, consolidate, and study ways to achieve significant reductions in expenditures.

Duplication must be eliminated. Services must be contracted outside government where it can be done cheaper. Government employees should only be doing core government functions, not providing services the private business sector can do cheaper and more efficiently, and without the long term pension costs resulting from government employment.

I’m a member of the TAB coalition and one of the taxpayers picking up the tab for county spending.

BCC 7/20 – Sherry Lee

My name is Sherry Lee. I am a homeowner, a small business owner, member of Lower Taxes now and the TAB Coalition, and I am a concerned citizen.

Taxpayers have been sending a clear message to government at every level. We want lower taxes. Somehow PBC has not gotten this message. The spending cuts currently being discussed are minuscule. The county budget became wildly over-inflated during the housing boom and the BCC is trying to maintain it at the expense of struggling homeowners, businesses and the overall economy. Foreclosures and unemployment will continue to ravage our community unless and until we make deeper cuts.

First, we need a sunset review ordinance. The process would routinely and automatically review previously approved programs and projects to see what can be reduced or eliminated.

Next, we need engineering staff to give a detailed list of the capital projects budget and priority rank all previously authorized projects that are not under contract, including anything newly approved for 2011. Some projects should be reduced or eliminated.

The Taxpayer Action Board will work closely with staff and commissioners over the next several weeks to implement these changes.

We pay the TAB and we are keeping TABS on you.

BCC 7/20 – Iris Scheibl

My name is Iris Scheibl and I live in Palm Beach Gardens.

I am a member of South Florida 912, South Florida Tea Party, other civic organizations and I’m now a member of the TAB coalition.

Several of our TAB members have mentioned focus areas where spending can be cut dramatically. It is our hope that the County and Constitutional Officers are open and transparent with requests for information and make a concrete effort to further reduce the size of our County government.

Upon reviewing the presentations by Administrator Weisman and Property Appraiser Nikolits last week, it was clear that the rate of growth in spending on Public Safety (the Sheriff and Fire/Rescue) far exceeds that of the County or of the other Constitutional Offices. While some of that can probably be accounted for by increase in scope, there must be ways to streamline operations that haven’t been explored. We would expect that as stewards of the citizens’ tax dollar the various Constitutional Officers would work with the County to eliminate duplication of services – but this doesn’t seem to be the case.

It is also clear that the Constitutional Officers are not voluntarily coming under the jurisdiction of the Office of Inspector General – whose mission is to root out waste, fraud and abuse.

At last week’s Budget Workshop, Commissioner Taylor asked about the County government organization. Palm Beach County, as a charter government since 1984 – has a structure that can be modified. The County can initiate a re-organization, but citizens can also initiate such a change using petitions and gaining the support of at least 7 percent of voters qualified to vote in the last general election.

We, as TAB, intend to explore which structures have worked and which haven’t in other counties across the state. Perhaps the time has come, after 26 years to pursue an Amendment to Palm Beach County’s Charter to bring some or all of the Constitutional Offices under the County.

Over the summer PBC Taxpayer Action Board will work to come back with specifics on these and other recommendations in time for the September Public Hearings.

We’re paying the TAB and we’re keeping TABs on YOU.

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

    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.