It seems ownership of Santa’s sleigh, the one used by the Anna Maria Island Privateers in the Christmas parade and other holiday events, is in dispute.
Rumors that circulated among Privateer members for some time suggested former Privateer Rick Maddox, a longtime resident of Cortez and former Holmes Beach chief of police, was seeking possession of the trailer.
Maddox filed suit July 11, claiming he purchased a boat trailer that was modified for use as a “float or ride at parades, festivals and community functions.” He claims he performed the modifications.
The complaint says Maddox lent the trailer to events, individuals and organizations on a temporary basis.
He further claims he lent the trailer to the Privateers for “use at a particular function or event,” and allowed the group to store the trailer “for a short time,” but the group failed to return his property.
Privateers president Dennis Poteet told The Islander he had no comment on the lawsuit due to the pending litigation.
Maddox was a longtime member of the Privateers, but has not been part of the crew for about six years. And while wife Annette Maddox is a member, she is allegedly under suspension while the litigation is pending, according to a crew member.
The Privateers made renovations to the sleigh before Christmas last year, improving and updating the holiday decorations and lighting.
The matter — and the necessity to hire an attorney — come at a time when the nonprofit is fundraising to perform needed mechanical repairs and renovations to its boat/float, and a short time after announcing the July 4 scholarship awards to area youths amounting to $20,000.
The membership is scheduled to meet July 18 to elect its new slate of officers for the 2012-13 year and, apparently, to discuss what action it may take to defend the lawsuit.
The suit alleges the trailer — Santa’s sleigh — is valued at $4,500, and the Privateers either failed or refused to return it.
Maddox is seeking the return of the trailer and its title, as well as damages, fees, costs and “equitable relief.” The complaint asks for three times the value of the trailer, the cost of the action, attorneys fees and whatever other relief “to which the court deems he is entitled.”
The civil matter was assigned to the 12th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Marc Singer.
Rick Maddox was the subject of controversy when he was dismissed in 1993 from his job as chief of police by then Mayor Pat Geyer.
He was a Privateer member at the time, and Geyer was an honorary member.
Richard Cary of Anna Maria took this telephoto image of the faux bird on the cell tower. He came to The Islander office to ask what is being done about the bird hanging since last Wednesday. He said he had researched and could find no such bird with “red head,” and learned the bird was fake from the newspaper staff.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating the installation of a faux bird on the Holmes Beach cell tower July 11.
Workers for Crown Castle Inc., the owner/operator of the cell tower, install faux birds — fake birds — on tower beams to scare off other birds.
Atop the Holmes Beach tower is an osprey nest, reportedly containing several fledgling birds.
One fake bird hangs with feathers flapping upside down by its foot from a dangling wire attached to an extension pole at the top tier of the cell tower opposite the nest.
The problem with that, said Gary Morris of the FWC, is that it’s illegal to interfere with nesting birds, and a permit is required if a company is working on a cell tower where birds are nesting.
Morris said he and FWC Capt. Dave Adams will fly over the cell tower in the FWC’s helicopter and observe any nesting activity through binoculars and a video recording. Morris said the helicopter would be high above any nest and would not interfere with any chicks, birds or mating.
Morris did not know when the flyover would take place, or if Crown Castle had a permit for the work.
He said a permit would be needed to erect fake birds designed to scare off other birds, and the permit would have to ensure no nesting birds or chicks were disturbed.
A series of phone calls to Crown Castle Inc. went from Sarasota to Illinois to Pennsylvania, where efforts to reach a spokesperson were unsuccessful.
A neighbor to the cell tower said she’s heard workers on the structure overnight on several occasions, but not recently.
“The chicks would become so excited they would wake me, and I could hear the men talking on the tower,” she said of work sometimes performed overnight. The morning after the fake bird was hung on the tower, she was awakened again. “This time was at 3 a.m.,” said Tondra Lopossa of 59th Street in Holmes Beach.
She notified Holmes Beach police of the disturbance.
John van Zandt of Holmes Beach said he observed the men on the tower July 11. At first, he thought they were trying to rescue a bird caught on the tower. He later realized they had installed an imitation dead bird hanging by a wire from a tower beam.
“I thought it was strange they were even up there. A storm was coming in quickly and they could have been easily electrocuted,” he said.
Holmes Beach Police Lt. Dale Stephenson said a maintenance representative from Crown Castle visited the department July 13, saying his company will cooperate with HBPD and FWC.
Morris said he would report on what he and Adams observe soon after the tower flyover.
Anna Maria commissioners settled on a preliminary park design for the city-owned lots at the east end of Pine Avenue that former Commissioner Gene Aubry presented several months ago.
The issue, as it always seems to be in Anna Maria, is parking.
Commissioners July 12 agreed native trees and plants should surround the lots, with open space in the middle. There also should be walking space and benches.
But they were divided on whether to allow parking along North Bay Boulevard.
They agreed there should be no parking on the Pine Avenue side of the lots, but Commissioner John Quam said the city needs the existing 11 parking spaces on Bay Boulevard.
While Commissioner SueLynn wanted no parking on Bay Boulevard, Commission Chair Chuck Webb said the existing spaces are in the right of way, not on the vacant lots.
“I see the problem, but I’m not ready to cut (the parking spaces) off. If the rest of the commission says remove Bay Boulevard parking, I’m OK with that,” said Webb.
Commissioners agreed to close the parking lot, although it was allowed throughout the winter-spring season.
Commissioners were against rest rooms on the lots, but may consider a gazebo or open-air pavilion.
City attorney Jim Dye said he would write a resolution for the commission in consultation with Aubry.
Commissioners agreed, but left out any decision on Pine Avenue parking.
“The next step is to come up with cost estimates,” said Webb, who is plans to ask the Manatee County Tourism Development Council for funding for improvements on the six lots from resort tax money.
Efforts to use resort tax funds for such purposes have consistently been denied by the county legal staff because the funds are for dedicated purposes, not general tourism.
Dye reminded commissioners the lots are zoned retail-office-residential. The city will need a comp-plan amendment to change the zoning to public, semi-public and to create a park.
Gene Aubry campaigns for a commission seat in 2010. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin
Former Anna Maria Commissioner Gene Aubry has expressed interest in being appointed to a commission vacancy that will exist following the city election in November.
The vacancy will be created when the new commission elects a chair.
According to the city charter, the commission chair becomes mayor if no candidates qualified to run for mayor, which is the case in this year’s election.
When the chair is elected by the members of the commission at the first meeting after the Nov. 6 election, the remaining four commissioners will then be required to appoint a resident to fill the vacant commission seat.
Aubry, who chose not to seek re-election last November following 14 months as a commissioner, said he made his decision with much thought and after conferring with Mayor Mike Selby.
“Mike has done a great job, and I told him I did not want to be in competition with him if he was interested in the appointment,” Aubry said. “Mike said he has no interest in the position and wished me well.”
Selby has chosen not to seek re-election as mayor at the completion of his term in November.
Aubry, who was commissioner from September 2010 to November 2011, said he was stating his interest now “because I love Anna Maria and have a concern where the city is going. The next few years are going to be extremely important for the city.”
Anna Maria city clerk Alice Baird said city attorney Jim Dye would give the commission instructions on how citizens can express interest in the appointment. Dye also will discuss some charter issues.
One issue the new commission must grapple with is the length of term for the appointed commissioner, which is not specified in the charter.
Selby said a charter review by a committee is required every five years and he has begun the process to appoint and establish the committee. Former Commissioner Tom Aposporos has chaired the past two such committees.
Aubry was elected to the commission in September 2010 in a special court-ordered election that also was the recall vote for then-Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus.
Stoltzfus was recalled from office 362-333, while Aubry defeated Stoltzfus 363-333 for the commission seat on the same ballot.
Developers thinking of turning a quick buck by tearing down one of Anna Maria’s older, ground-level homes to build a lucrative vacation rental might want to reconsider.
Anna Maria commissioners at their July 12 meeting agreed to have building official Bob Welch halt administrative approval of permits to tear down homes built before 1968 while city attorney Jim Dye prepares a moratorium ordinance.
Commission Chair Chuck Webb said he raised the issue of the administrative moratorium to avoid problems for the city until a moratorium is approved. The first reading of the moratorium is planned for the commission’s July 26 meeting.
Webb said that when developers learn of the planned moratorium, they will “hit the city running with applications” for teardowns.
It will be up to Welch to either approve or deny the applications until a moratorium is in place.
The city is in the process of establishing criteria for homes to be designated as historically significant. Such a designation would allow a property owner some leeway in complying with Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations for ground-floor homes.
Sissy Quinn is head of a committee preparing recommended requirements for historical designation.
“We’ll work on getting something to you as quickly as possible,” Quinn told the commission.
“You guys need to hurry,” Webb said. “We don’t want outside investors flooding the city. Those are the very people we are worried about.”
Commissioners voted 3-0 to declare the late Warren Spahn’s house at 203 Spruce St. to be of historic significance, with Webb abstaining because he represents the Spahn family.
But he urged Quinn to get the committee moving on definitions of what is of historic value in the city.
In other matters:
• A request by Waterfront Restaurant owner Jason Suzor for the commission to discuss amending the alcoholic beverage ordinance to allow service of all alcoholic beverages at establishments where now only beer and wine are sold ended in a 2-2 vote, with Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick absent, and was deemed rejected by Webb.
The proposed change would affect six restaurants in the city, Suzor said, including the Waterfront.
• Commissioners agreed to join a class-action lawsuit against BP Oil for the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the northern Gulf of Mexico.
Dye said he reviewed the agreement with the Bradenton law firm of Heintz & Becker, P.A., and found no irregularities. He said he had language clarified to note that the maximum recovery fee of attorneys and experts is 20 percent, while the plaintiffs would split the 80 percent settlement on a pro-rated basis.
BP already agreed to liability and the attorneys in the Florida case against BP, which is headed by a Pensacola firm, agreed that if they lose no city would be charged any fee.
• Commissioners passed the final reading of the dock and residential parking ordinance after making various changes the past several months at public hearings.
The ordinance does not state a requirement for sidewalks to be of concrete or any other substance, but they must be of permeable material.
The riparian line for canals and docks is defined as the shortest line from the shoreline to the center of the navigable channel.
Additionally, a dock owner can rent space to only one other boat owner, and docks are permitted just one boatlift.
Other modifications include that sidewalks will be 4 feet wide on Gulf Drive and 5 feet wide on Pine Avenue.
• Commissioners passed the first reading of a new cell tower ordinance to replace the one approved in 2003.
The new ordinance allows either the planning and zoning board or commission to attach conditions, including locations where towers are allowed.
Dye recommended the first choice for a tower location be on public property or existing publicly used facilities that do not need a height increase, but an antenna can be added for extra length.
Adding antennas to already existing poles is less objectionable to people than building a new tower, Dye said.
The most unlikely location for a tower is in a residential neighborhood, according to the ordinance.
Additionally, the ordinance would provide for four carriers and economics for the tower location cannot be part of the commission’s decision on location.
Also, any cell phone carrier must demonstrate it cannot use the Holmes Beach cell tower to provide service in Anna Maria.
According to Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch & Shorebird Monitoring executive director Suzi Fox, sea turtle nests have begun to hatch amidst a busy — continuing — nesting season.
One nest in the section between Pine Avenue, Anna Maria, and 66th Street, Holmes Beach, and another nest in the section between 52nd Street and Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach produced 55 hatchlings to the sea.
As of July 13, AMITW is reporting a total of 285 nests, shattering the previous record of 248, with anticipation running high that nesting is not over.
AMITW volunteer Pete Gross, who compiles the nesting data, said there have been 106 new nests in the three weeks since Tropical Storm Debby.
“You can see the rate of new nests is not yet tapering off, as would be expected near the end of nesting season,” said Gross. “So there are almost assuredly more to come this year.”
Last year there were 145 documented nests, which produced 7,800 hatchlings to the sea. The average nesting season since 1997 produced 155 nests, making this an incredible nesting season on Anna Maria Island shores.
Thirteen nests were documented June 27 as TS Debby left the area. Between six to 10 nests have been recorded daily, with a dozen nests documented July 3 and July 10.
By the numbers:
As of July 13
False Crawls: 275
Hatched nests: 2
Hatchlings to the sea: 55
Most Bradenton Beach department heads have submitted proposed budgets that exceed this year’s budgets, and commissioners already face a $104,000 shortfall in 2012-13.
The shortfall was originally calculated to be $117,000, but an updated report from the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s Office shows increased property values, which decreases the shortfall at the present millage rate.
Still, a shortfall remains and commissioners have indicated that an increase in city property taxes is on the way to fill the deficit and pay for a larger 2012-13 budget that includes increased salaries and attorney fees.
City clerk Nora Idso presented the administration and planning budgets to commissioners July 11 at Bradenton Beach City Hall, 107 Gulf Drive N., to close out the first round of department-by-department budget talks.
The proposed administrative budget is up more than $10,000 from this year’s budget, which is $358,617 compared to the proposed 2012-13 budget of $368,858.
An anticipated increase in fees for city attorney Ricinda Perry is expected due to a pair of lawsuits against Bradenton Beach. Attorney fees account for a $4,000 increase in the administration budget and an additional $2,000 in the planning budget, with a total of $45,000 planned for Perry’s services.
Idso is not confident that amount will be enough, saying there is no way to anticipate legal fees.
The proposed planning department budget increased by more than $12,000, and operating expenses increased from $1,400 this year to $4,500 next year. This year’s budget for the planning department was $340,057, while next year’s proposed budget is $352,741.
Idso said building official Steve Gilbert would explain the operating expense increase to commissioners at an upcoming work session, but she also said the state is now requiring cities pay it a percentage of permits.
“Depending on the size of the project, it will be from $150 to $700,” said Idso. “There’s just no other place to put that money other than in a line item. It’s just one more thing to get our money.”
Commissioner Ric Gatehouse addressed the fees for Perry and Gilbert, who bill the city for their hours as contracted employees.
“We have engaged (Alan) Garrett to take care of the planning side of things, which should significantly lower (Gilbert’s) workload,” said Gatehouse. “Now that we have two individuals, I would like to see significant cost reductions for Mr. Gilbert.”
Gatehouse continued, “I realize we’ve been put into a position where we have no choice but to spend the money, but I wonder if (Perry) has to be at every meeting. There are a lot of meetings that are not controversial that I think we could stumble our way through without an attorney present.”
Idso said Perry has attended 11 meetings since November for a total of $1,870 based on a rate of $170 per hour.
“If she wasn’t giving us a government rate, it would be more like $230 an hour,” said Idso. “But you are right. Out of those 11 meetings, it was only necessary to have an attorney there for six of them.”
Mayor John Shaughnessy referred to Perry’s invoices. “She doesn’t charge us anything for a lot of things she does,” he said. “We are very fortunate for that.”
Idso said if commissioners want to cut hours from contracted employees, the easiest route would be to trim Gilbert’s hours.
“Mr. Gilbert comes to more night meetings, and that usually costs more,” said Idso. “I’ve looked at that compared to the attorney, and my concern is that we never know what exactly will come up, not only for you, but from the audience.”
Idso said Gilbert could only attend day meetings, which “could cut down considerably on his bill.”
Gatehouse said the same could be done for Perry.
“We can direct the attorney that her services won’t be required that night, and we can also table the issue until another date (if something does come up) and call her in on it,” he said.
Idso said Perry’s fees are not as much of a concern as the litigator commissioners agreed to pay for the two lawsuits.
“We’ll be paying the piper on that,” she said. “We’ll be paying full price and I think that will be a very sizeable bill.”
Commissioners will review the budget through July 18 and set the tentative millage rate July 25. The budget will not be voted on until September.
Idso said once commissioners set the millage, “that’s not set in stone. You can change it right up until September. Once you set it though, you can only come back and lower it. You can’t raise it, so keep that in mind.”
The Bradenton Beach Police Department’s proposed 2012-13 budget represents the lion’s share of the city’s estimated $2.3 million budget.
With a proposed budget of $959,732, it is the largest spending amount for the biggest department.
Police Chief Sam Speciale addressed commissioners July 9, outlining the department’s proposed budget, which is about $59,000 more than what was budgeted this year.
“Basically what this is, is the mayor asked to put a 3 percent increase in for salaries, so that’s what the numbers reflect,” said Speciale. “When we discuss the budget, I have to tell you, when the salaries change, all of the numbers that have to do with benefits go up, too.”
Police department salaries totaled $499,132 in this year’s budget and are being proposed at $543,912 for the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
Retirement contributions will rise by almost $2,000, while insurance costs will grow by $4,200.
Additional costs in the department include telecommunications, which increased from $4,200 to $8,400.
Speciale said the department’s communications system was upgraded, as mandated by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
“We went from a radio-based computer system to an air-based computer system,” he said. “All of the computers in the patrol cars now have a Sprint card in them, and we have to pay for them. That’s dictated by the sheriff’s office because our communications are with the sheriff’s office.”
Speciale said with the proposed salary raise, his total budget increase will be about 5 percent for the coming fiscal year.
“The salaries reflect 3 percent and that doesn’t include some other things,” he said. “But we have lowered some other items. Some of the ones we don’t have control over went up, like insurance and gas costs.”
The department was asked to cut 2 percent from its budget this year, but Speciale has said his department has not purchased a new vehicle in years.
The purchase of a new vehicle is budgeted for 2012-13.
“We have been asked to cut down so much with things, that I can’t plan ahead,” said Speciale. “We basically got into an attitude in the city of run it until it breaks. I don’t have any reserve cars. I can’t afford to have a vehicle break down and not have a policeman on the road.”
Speciale said years ago the department would budget for a new vehicle a year, but that policy changed in recent years.
“What ended up happening is we got into a situation of not buying cars, and literally what was happening was we have been putting more money into them than they are worth,” he said. “We are trying to get back into the rotation again to get one more car a year.”
Commissioners agreed that public safety is paramount.
“When it comes to public safety, I don’t see anything wrong with this budget,” said Mayor John Shaughnessy. “I know in the last few years we’ve received cars from the county for free, but by the time we get them, they belong in the junkyard.”
Shaughnessy said Bradenton Beach police officers and citizens deserve better.
“This is Bradenton Beach,” he said. “We are supposed to be the star of the island, and we have the chief of police driving around in a car he’s afraid to wash because the paint is falling off.”
Speciale said it isn’t the upper echelon of the department he is concerned about.
“I’m embarrassed to drive my truck, but I can’t have one of my officers driving around in an old piece of junk because they are the guys out on the streets doing the job,” he said. “I’ve been here long enough to know we will do everything we can to save the city money but, right now, the most important thing is having our patrolmen on the road in good equipment.”
Shaughnessy said the city starts the budget process in a $104,000 deficit, but the police budget is reasonable. The mayor said the city would need to find a way out of the financial hole while still paying for essentials.
“Where is that money going to come from? Are we going to have a bake sale? I think the police department has come up with a reasonable budget. I’m not going to go hog wild here. I just want to get the city back to where it was,” he said.
Commissioners have several rounds of budget talks scheduled and will set the tentative millage rate July 25. The millage rate is what is used to determine how much is paid in property taxes.
Of the city’s $2.27 million budget this year, $853,085 was collected in ad valorem taxes. Bradenton Beach property owners have not had a city tax increase since 2002, and the millage rate was lowered this year.
Commissioners have suggested a millage rate increase is possible for the new fiscal year.
The first rounds of Bradenton Beach budget talks ended July 11 with commissioners settling on a salary raise of 3 percent for city employees.
Department heads presented preliminary budgets July 9-11, with the raise of 3 percent included in the figures, but Commissioner Ric Gatehouse said he would prefer to lower it to 2.5 percent.
“I apologize for bringing this up so late, but I was not aware we were looking at 3 percent until it was mentioned during the police department budget,” said Gatehouse. “Having had time to reflect on that, I mentioned I wasn’t entirely comfortable with that figure.”
Gatehouse proposed a more consistent plan for pay raises, offering city employees 2.5 percent in fiscal 2012-13, and to plan for smaller raises each year going forward.
Gatehouse said, “I want to do something that is more sustainable,” than what previous commissions have done with employee raises.
Gatehouse suggested 2.5 percent this year and 1.5 percent every year after and “incorporate a merit-based raise of an additional 1 percent. That way you are creating something that is sustainable and not a huge impact on the budget every year.”
Vice Mayor Ed Straight said he would prefer to go with 3 percent.
“I’d also like to go on record against any merit increase,” he said. “I dealt with that with the county, and my experience is that it’s more trouble than it’s worth.”
Commissioner Jan Vosburgh wanted to lower the proposed raise to 2 percent.
“I was the bad guy last year, and I will probably be the bad guy this year,” she said. “I was thinking 2 percent. City employees got a raise last year, and they get an excellent benefit package. When working in the free enterprise system, it’s completely different. You only got a raise if you deserve a raise.”
Mayor John Shaughnessy said Gatehouse’s idea was a good one, “but there’s no guarantee the next commission will give them that 1.5 percent and could shoot down the merit raises, too. If you don’t go for it now, you don’t know what will happen next year.”
City clerk Nora Idso said she needed a consensus because the proposed budget already reflects a raise of 3 percent. She said she would need time to redo the budget if the commissioners wished to change the proposal.
Commissioner Gay Breuler, Shaughnessy, Straight and, after some discussion, Gatehouse agreed to the 3 percent raise. Vosburgh said she was willing to go to 2.5 percent.
Water pools along Second Street in Bradenton Beach near city hall and the Tingley Memorial Library, causing asphalt to crack and crumble. The city is focusing the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget on infrastructure, which department heads agree has been neglected. Islander Photo: Mark Young
With budget talks resuming July 9 at Bradenton Beach City Hall, commissioners turned their focus to infrastructure issues. Implications continue that a tax hike might be required to address neglected city needs.
Commissioners have not said taxes will rise, but they made repeated statements that taxes have not been increased since 2002.
During a budget talk July 9, Police Chief Sam Speciale said department heads have drifted away from preventative maintenance to save money.
“Starting years ago, all the departments had the feeling — slowly but surely — that we got away from the preventative maintenance thing,” said Speciale. “What’s happening now is the infrastructure of this city is starting to get old and it’s starting to crumble. We can’t let that happen.”
Commissioner Ric Gatehouse said, “The sorry state of maintenance in the city really came home July 4, when the city couldn’t muster something to represent ourselves proudly in the parade because the boat trailer is so rusted out, it won’t hold the boat.”
Speciale said no one in the city is looking to have the best, “but just give us the tools to do what we have to do.”
Mayor John Shaughnessy said the city cannot continue to just get by, and Tropical Storm Debby was an example of a bad situation making things worse.
“Things come up that we have to have money for,” he said. “Everybody is cutting back, but there are certain things you can’t live without.”
Vice Mayor Ed Straight said the public supports decisions to maintain services, and is willing to pay for them.
As commissioners move forward with the budget process, Straight said, “I think we need to keep that in mind. The support is there to keep the services there.”
Commissioner Jan Vosburgh said she understands the need to maintain essential services, but called for due diligence as the budget process continues.
“I’m just looking out for the citizens of Bradenton Beach,” she said. “I’ve walked around the city, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the city look better. I have a neighbor who is going to have to move because she can’t afford the taxes here.”
Shaughnessy reminded commissioners that the city has not raised its taxes since 2002. He said the city lowered its tax rate last year.
“It’s the fire department getting an increase and the sheriff’s office looking for an increase, and the county giving their employees a raise,” said Shaughnessy. “Those are the taxes we are paying, so where are we?”
As budget talks shifted to capital improvements and stormwater issues, what to do to protect the city’s infrastructure became the focus.
Commissioners debated their options with city staff.
“I wonder if we shouldn’t start now, and each year put a little more aside for infrastructure,” said Commissioner Gay Breuler.
Gatehouse said the development of one- and five-year maintenance plans is essential for the city to prioritize projects and budget for the future.
“If we do nothing, we will be scrambling” every time a new issue arises, he said.
Janie Robertson, a former commissioner, attended the July 9 budget talks and said she also believes taxpayers would support higher taxes for infrastructure improvements.
“If taxpayers know an increase in tax is going to be spent on infrastructure, and not to the benefit of anyone else, I don’t think you’ll have a problem,” she said. “Citizens will say absolutely yes, let’s get this city back in shape.”
Shaughnessy pointed out several projects over the past year that unexpectedly cost the city money, including a sewer line collapse, hiring a contractor to build trolley shelters and addressing Tropical Storm Debby damages.
Now or never
City clerk Nora Idso said she appreciated the concept of trying to save money for future projects in a budget item fund, “but you guys are a revolving door. We are at your mercy. Two years from now, you aren’t here, and we get a brand new commission and they decide that’s not what they want to do.”
Idso said putting away money “is not worth the money it is written on,” and a future commission could decide to take the savings and put it into the general fund.
“Get the project done right away,” she said. “Name a project and get it done within a couple of years. You can’t put it in the budget unless you are going to spend it.”
Gatehouse said that is what he’s asking for in having department heads develop one- and five-year plans. He also said priorities and clear timelines must be established.
“While beautification is nice, and streets and sewers aren’t sexy, that’s what makes the city livable,” he said. “You can’t live here without working sewers, drivable roads and walkable sidewalks. We should do the right things now, and if someone else comes along later that wants to do the wrong thing, then that’s on them.”
Breuler asked department heads to submit a priority list before commissioners cast their votes July 25 to set the maximum millage rate for the next budget.