The cards are now on the table. After months of speculation, the county budget has been published and the first workshop is next Monday, June 13, at 6:00pm. Public comment is at 7:30pm, time certain, and the Sheriff's presentation is scheduled for 6:45pm.
As directed by the BCC, Administrator Bob Weisman has delivered a budget with no tax increase and with significant cuts to PBSO, precisely what we believe is required in this environment. Unfortunately, that is just the starting point. Most of the identified cuts are in "constituent sensitive areas", designed to turn out those who are organized to fight for their slice of the pie. There are cuts to pools and lifeguards, increases in Palm Tran Connection fares, cuts to the financially assisted agencies (FAA - basically using taxpayer money for their favorite charities), and cutbacks on maintenance of roads and signal lights. There is also a cut to the Sheriff of $20.7M, sure to bring out the folks from the neighborhood programs and the guys in the PBA shirts.
Weisman's goal is to get approval for a tax increase to the 4.922 rollback millage, and the strategy is to turn out all of these groups to provide cover for the commissioners who want to go along, and put public pressure on those who don't. The media is already picking up on the plan as there have been newspaper stories and radio spots bemoaning the cuts. In actuality, several of these areas are actually getting more money if you look at the budget detail - Palm Tran is +25% on their subsidy, and Engineering and Public Works (roads, etc.) is up 10%.
Now is the time to act. If we turn out in numbers next Monday (preferably in person to speak, but at least via email or fax to the commissioners), with the request that any restoration of funding need to be matched with cuts in alternate programs, we can bring balance to the discussion. In other words - go ahead and listen to the folks in the wheelchairs and restore their Palm Tran Connection rates, but cut the same amount from some other program so the millage stays at 4.75.
For some background, there are two new articles on the TAB website: "The TAB Proposal and the County Budget", which covers what we would like to see emerge from the process, and "The Kabuki Budget", which explores the theatrical aspects of the public hearings. We have also prepared a sample email to the commissioners, and an outline for a 2 minute public comment.
Please look over the materials and come to the budget hearing on Monday. Those on the "receiving" side of the budget will be out in force. Those of us on the "paying" side must also have their voices heard. If you can't attend, send an email. Addresses for the commissioners and administrator can be found on right side of the TAB website, or you can email all at once at: BCC-AllCommissioners@pbcgov.org.
Taxpayer Action Board
"Kabuki" - traditional Japanese popular drama performed with highly stylized singing and dancing. Yesterday, the county released the budget package for the June 13 workshop. While this preliminary document is lacking in detail (it doesn't show the department rollups or make it possible to assess... [Read More...]
The county has published their initial budget package for the June 13 workshop. It as a flat millage budget, with cuts of $13.6M from county departments and $22M from PBSO over FY2011, and would seem at first reading to be in line with the first two points of the TAB Proposal, "Don't raise the millage"... [Read More...]
Throughout our analysis of the county budgets, we have been somewhat critical of Fire / Rescue. We observed that the growth of their budget (even adjusted for service area size) was significant over the last 8 years, and the firefighters in the county are compensated more than 50% above the national... [Read More...]
On Friday May 6, the conference committee put the final touches on FRS Reform and sent SB2100 to the Governor. Although it is not as far-reaching as the Governor wanted, it is significant, both in the precedent it sets (employees must now contribute to their pensions) and in the budget savings for both... [Read More...]
The Palm Beach Civic Association, in conjunction with the Town of Palm Beach County Budget Task Force (CBTF), is engaging Florida TaxWatch to perform a study of Palm Beach County capital expenditures, debt and reserves, and inventory of underutilized land and buildings. Funded half by the Civic Association... [Read More...]
The Florida Legislature is moving forward on a constitutional amendment for the 2012 ballot to limit state spending to a "growth factor" tied to inflation and population growth. A previous attempt in 2009 had included county and municpal governments in its scope, but that has been omitted this time.... [Read More...]