PB: Budget update – Dubois rattles cages; Robin chimes in

by SDM

PB Budget Update

SDM watched the tape of last night’s budget workshop. The largest takeaway: The guys really wanted to get the meeting finished so they could watch the Heat game. Councilwoman Joan Lindsay was also uncharacteristically quiet, so maybe she wanted to escape early, too.

SDM did take note that the council is already looking to spend more money on the police department, so get ready for another Police pandering budget. The village manager reminded the council that PB police write lots of tickets, so Finance Director Chin gets a nice check from the county every month!

The rest of the budget discussion, which lasted about 30 minutes, was a snoozer until Vice Mayor Dubois spoke at the very end. Dubois said two things that caught SDM’s attention:

1. Vice Mayor Dubois reported that “the village will increase its operating budget by 22% this year.” (33:40) [SDM Snarky Question: BTW, did you shave before the meeting, John?]

2. Dubois noted that since the village is raising expenses so drastically, perhaps they ought to consider reducing their own salaries, which are set by charter. Dubois asked the village attorney if the council could reduce its compensation without amending the charter. The village attorney did not reply, but the answer is no. Here is the offending provision:

Council members and the Vice-Mayor shall receive compensation in the amount of $1,000.00 per month and the Mayor shall receive compensation in the amount of $2,000.00 per month. These payments shall be increased or decreased solely by amendment of this Charter. Sec. 2.6, Palmetto Bay Village Charter.

SDM Says: We are shocked the village is considering such a spending spree, Mr. Dubois. If the police expenditures are so important, perhaps we should be considering cuts to other departments to balance things out. On the salary issue, we like the way you are thinking, though we doubt Mme. Mayor finds you very amusing. :)

Robin Chimes In

David Singer (the Robin to SDM’s Batman according to one SDM wag) provided us a comment today that we decline to print. The allegations made are not sufficiently supported to warrant verbatim transcription here.

However, Mr. Singer makes an important point (also echoed by Councilman Tim Schaffer) that we have not discussed sufficiently in this blog. Namely, Palmetto Bay seems bent on retaining for another term its current auditor, despite a significant question about their handling of the Palmer litigation vis a vis the village’s annual financial reporting.

SDM claims no expertise on the question of whether the Palmer litigation should have been reported as having a “material adverse” effect on the village’s financial situation. But we agree with Mr. Singer that the issue deserves a serious review by a competent third party.

If you think this issue is nit-picky, consider that the City of Miami is (or was) under federal investigation for improper reporting of its financial status. Bonds are priced according to a municipality’s financial condition so if a city misstates its position, then investors might be taking more risk than they bargained for. In some instances, such a misstatement could constitute fraud.

Palmetto Bay is coming to the fork in the road with Palmer if the last meeting is any indicator. Either the village will find a way to settle the lawsuit or the council will roll the dice with our tax money. Under either scenario, those who invest in Palmetto Bay’s financial instruments ought to be told what the potential downside could be for the village’s finances.

SDM Says: The question of whether the village should retain its auditor should be partly decided on whether they stated completely the village’s financial condition…if not for the benefit of the village people, then at the very lease for the benefit of our creditors.

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