On Oversight, Checks and Balances, and the County Budget

Our system of government imposes an arrangement of checks and balances, so no person or group can acquire unchecked power. When it comes to the county budget, Florida statutes clearly designate the legislative body – the county commission, to have the authority and responsibility to set priorities for spending and taxation. The administrator and his staff prepare a detailed budget, following whatever guidelines they have been given, and the... [Read More...]

Transparency at PBSO – the Challenger’s View

At various times over the last two years, we at TAB have raised the issue of transparency regarding the Sheriff’s half billion dollar budget. Much of what goes on at PBSO is hidden from public view, and the budget is no exception. The only way to see how the agency spends the taxpayer’s money within the three “silos” of Law Enforcement, Corrections, and Court Services, is to file a chapter 119 (open records law) request and... [Read More...]

Tax Rate Proposal Still Too High

The current proposed millage on the table for the 2012 budget is $4.79 per thousand dollars of valuation, up 0.8% from the $4.75 of last year. With declining valuations, that millage would collect $596M in taxes, $7M or about 1% less than last year. An “alternative” offered by Bob Weisman differs by about $700K – hardly worth mentioning. At the September 13 preliminary hearing, commissioners Abrams, Burdick and Marcus voted against... [Read More...]

A Commissioner Takes on “Exigent Operational Necessity”

The Palm Beach Post is looking out for the taxpayer. Last week we mentioned that Rhonda Swan raised the issue of the county’s interpretation of “exigent operational necessity” as it applies to the PBSO Career Services Act in an editorial. This week, Jennifer Sorentrue brings it up in the context of the Sheriff’s budget dispute with the county, and quotes Steven Abrams: “It would seem to boil down to whether our current... [Read More...]

Exigent Operational Necessity?

Writing in the Palm Beach Post on Friday, editorial writer and columnist Rhonda Swan makes the case that salary reductions for government employees in these troubled times are justifiable – even for administrators like Bob Weisman who takes home $251K / year. She is also the first in the local media (to our knowledge) to raise questions about the Sheriff’s plan to give raises to the newly unionized civilian employees of PBSO. Citing the... [Read More...]

Should the Sheriff be Subject to the Ethics Ordinances and the Inspector General?

Over the last few years, Palm Beach County has taken a great leap in establishing ethical standards and implementing a watchdog function that is helping dispel the reputation of “corruption county”. First, by ordinance, the County Commission and staff included themselves under the jurisdiction of a Commission on Ethics, and the Office of Inspector General. Then, in November of 2010, 70% of the voters supported a charter amendment to... [Read More...]

Pension Reform – the Final Bill

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 the state and the counties that participate in FRS. The conference staff analysis summarizes the highlights of the bill as: All FRS members must... [Read More...]

Pension Bills Ready for Conference

Much has happened to the two pension reform bills winding their way through the Legislature this week. Both Senate Bill SB2100 (replacing SB1130) and House Bill HB1405 have survived a vote (mostly along party lines) in their respective chambers. As there are differences between the bills, a conference committee will attempt to resolve them, probably starting next week. Although they do not go as far as the Governor’s original proposal (no... [Read More...]

Pension Reform in Tallahassee – an Update

Breaking News: Yesterday (4/1) the Senate budget committee introduced SB2100 as a committee bill, exceeding the provisions of SB1130 for pension reform. Including a 3% across-the-board contribution (replacing the tiered system of 1130), elimination of the DROP program, closing the defined benefit plan to new hires, and stopping the COLA for accruals (all after July of this year), it comes much closer to the Governor’s proposal than the earlier... [Read More...]

Pension Reform and Implications for Palm Beach County

Highlights Governor’s FRS reform worth close to $100M / year to Palm Beach County (with schools included) Senate bill SB1130 implements only portions – reducing savings to about $30M Any change in special risk accruals are strongly opposed by the police and fire unions The legislature lacks the political courage to support the governor in these changes With the legislative session about to open, a battle is brewing over the Governor’s... [Read More...]

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