Sunday, September 15, 2013

Palmetto Bay: Residents’ tax bill to rise slightly -

Residents’ tax bill to rise slightly - South Miami - Miami 
Click the headline above to read recent Miami Herald coverage on the budget which seems to be lost in all the other controversies going on this month at Village of Palmetto Bay Council meetings. I would like to hear more from the elected officials on the budget. They must be accountable for this budget and not hide behind Bill Kress, the village’s communications director (not an elected official) who is quoted in the article stating that $1,000,000.00 is “That’s the ‘we build it and they will come’ money” Whoa, Bill, hold on there, wasn't that one of the same comments made in support of building the Marlin's Stadium with public money? How is that attendance going?

I have faith, but never blind faith. I prefer informed decisions. The current mayor and remainder of the council are strangely quiet, unattached, on this budget process. This budget is being driven by staff and that reflects lack of decisiveness and vision from this council.

There is nothing more important to the financial health of Palmetto Bay than proper attention to the budget.  September should be budget month. Most everything else can wait.

I recommend that interested persons view the tape of the first budget hearing. The budget did not get the undivided attention it deserved. It is almost as if the current elected officials are trying to divert attention from the budget. True or not, that is the perception of the onlookers when you have a meeting go on well past midnight and even then, decisions on agenda items are carried over yet another September council meeting (e.g. additional time taken from the September budget focus).

The lack of focus is evident. Far too often "improvements" have been budgeted - and publicly touted- then not carried out during the year.  This is the true reasons for the recent "surpluses". These are not a planned surpluses, but gained by the lack of vision of this council. Perhaps we taxpayers should breath a heavy sigh of relief; that the failure to spend is for the better as many recent ideas contained in the budget have not been well-thought out.

I do advocate public investment and we took the first step with the placement and construction of village hall in our downtown area (with, by the way, grants exceeding 7 figures), but I want to see some indication from the council that they understand why we need to move forward. The Village Manager, Ron Williams and Building & Capital Projects Director Ed Silva have kicked started a focus lost since Village Hall was opened with the Village Manager's Downtown Redevelopment Task Force (DRTF) which continues to meet on a regular basis. It is my sincere hope that staff and these dedicated participants can lead this mayor and council toward truly following through on the original Charrette and take the next step in realizing the visions created by the initial village council and participating residents for Palmetto Bay. 

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