Quick Bites

by SDM

Palmetto Bay’s Funky Reserve Budgeting Continues

Here at SDM, we pride ourselves on being able to read a public sector budget. One key indicator for the health of a government is its gross reserve or fund balance. Consider this sequence of events in the village’s fund balance entries:

Actual Fund Balance FY 11-12: $17,562,873

Original Adopted Budget FY 12-13: $10,655,059

Estimated Final Budget FY 12-13: $15,577,547

Proposed Budget FY 13-14: $9,307,026

So how should the Village People read this head bobbing cluster of numbers? Well, if we are sycophants for the Mayor, we might say that the budgeted reserve will decline by a little less than 13% from last year. We might claim to be pretty happy to have kept the decline so low given the crappy economy, etc.

SDM, on the other hand, would say two things. One, that this year’s budget – if adopted and implemented as proposed – will have butchered a once healthy reserve by almost half (47%). Two, the village intends to spend 40% of its reserve ($6.27 million) in one year!

Now, SDM likes to be fair so let us state a tiny caveat that the Manager may have hidden somewhere in his budget message. The capital account shows that $3.3 million that was budgeted for FY 12-13 was not spent and has probably been shifted into FY 13-14. Perhaps to complete the Thalatta renovations?

But even deducting the shifted capital means that 20% of the reserve will be spent in one year.

SDM Says: FY 13-14 is an election year. Apparently the council wants to spread around some goodies to their favorite causes…at your expense, of course.

How About a Sub-Regional Fire Department?

SDM read recently where Mayor Cindy Lerner of Pinecrest is asking for some money to study whether her city should start its own fire department. No doubt she is tired of fighting with Mayor Shelley Doublespeak to the south who can’t give a straight answer on where to locate a new fire station.

Here’s SDM’s better idea: Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay ought to do a joint study to see if they could field a sub-regional fire department. By combining the relatively compact areas into a larger consortium, these cities could still get the benefits of economies of scale while not sacrificing local control. They could probably beat the county’s price by 30%, too.

A Good Idea from County-land

Rein in Union Perks

Commissioner Steve Bovo offered a measure at yesterday’s finance committee meeting that would make unions pay for their representatives when they are doing county business. Today, the county pays these union representatives as if they were in the field doing whatever job they normally do.

During the discussion on the item, the county attorney said that when he started working on county union contracts 30 or more years ago, the county paid for a dozen union representatives. Now, there are more than 40 of them.

Bovo noted at the hearing that one department had 19 employees, some of whom are earning six figure salaries, working full-time on union work, rather than on serving the people.

In the end, the item was watered down to a direction to the Mayor to add the topic to future negotiations. South Dade Commissioner Moss voted no.

SDM Says: Commissioner Bovo is on the right track. Put these folks back to work in their regular jobs and let the unions pay their salaries when the employees are on union business.

Homestead Blows Up

By now most of you have heard that a third Mayor took the perp walk when Homestead’s Steven Bateman was arrested this morning (8/28/13).

SDM had been cogitating over doing a Bateman post, but the issue seemed to have died off. However, like any good Scout, SDM is prepared to comment today. In July, Bateman published an open letter to Homestead residents. You can read the ful text here. Following is an excerpt SDM thought you might find either enlightening or nauseating given today’s news:

Insofar as the pump station is concerned, at the February 20, 2013 city council meeting, I stated to the city council on the public record that I was meeting with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez to discuss several issues of importance. I subsequently appeared before Mayor Carlos Gimenez in my official capacity as Homestead Mayor to discuss four issues; one among them was the pump station.  According to Section 2-11.1, Code of Miami-Dade County, I am exempt from registration because I appeared in my official capacity as Homestead Mayor which I so stated on February 20, 2013. Emphasis added by SDM. [Snarky comment: Apparently, the cops think otherwise.]

He went on to justify his actions by saying that the pump station he advocated served all of Homestead and not just his client, CHI. It’s amazing how politicos develop blind spots when it comes to obviously illegal behavior…simply amazing.

SDM Says: Three Mayors arrested inside of a month must be some kind of a record.

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