As You Wish…

In the movie, The Princess Bride, the farm boy, Wesley was known for saying, “As you wish” to the lovely young Buttercup. What he was really saying was, “I love you.”

Click image for short video clip

(Sorry, embedding was disabled for this one.)

Now, we’re not expecting a whole lot of love, but wouldn’t it be something if our Mayor and certain Commissioners would say, “As YOU wish” to us as residents rather than whispering their sentiments to the Town Manager and amongst themselves with their votes? Tomorrow night is another opportunity to see who among our town commission will vote AS WE WISH.

Tomorrow night, Wednesday,

August 3rd at 7:00 p.m.

Town Commission Meeting 

Town Chambers

Here is the August 3rd, 2011 Meeting Agenda – there is a lot in here. The ability to “speed read” would be a plus, but whether or not you have those superpowers, please take time to dig into this. It’s always amazing what can be found buried in the midst of all this stuff. Then, please come tomorrow night to speak up, ask questions and make some demands. We must hold town leaders to account. The items that get voted in always come back to make demands later. Below is a list of just a few things that struck me as I tried to skim through the agenda from about 7:00 p.m. to midnight last night. I’m sure there is much more, but this is all I could get through so far. Please leave your concerns in the comment section below.

Items of interest:

Page 36: Procedures for establishing the budget. This is the process by which the budget unveiling and tax rate determinations are supposed to be made.

Auditor’s findings: The auditor had one concern regarding an area of deficiency in the budget process.

Shortly after page 108 under Other Reports, the auditing firm declares: ”

“We did not identify any deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting that we consider to be material weaknesses, as defined above. However, we identified one deficiency in internal control over financial reporting described below that we consider to be a significant deficiency in internal control over financial reporting. A significant deficiency is a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control that is less severe than a material weakness, yet important enough to merit attention by those charged with governance.”

The paragraph following this in the document states the deficiency found, and as far as I can tell, it is listed under the section: 2001-1 Written Policies and Procedures (see document for statement) (and someone  please correct me if this is wrong.)

The town’s response letter to the auditor’s claim mentions that they will attempt to procure money to engage an outside consultant to develop a formal accounting policies and procedures manual. (Will this be Déja Vu as far as what happened when the Employee Handbook was reworked?)

Gomez Barker Associates’ (The Town Lobbyist) end-of-session legislative report provide here a sense of the issues they support and fight against on our behalf. Do you know what your town is sending lobbyists to support in your name? This would be good to know. This report also details which State of Florida decisions Gomez Barker Associates will work to change next session. Wouldn’t you like to know? Then get reading!

It looks like a vote to continue Employee Insurance Benefits will take place this Wednesday at the meeting. As per this agenda item, the Town Staff is supporting an overall 13% increase in premiums. According to section 1 of the Gerhing Group’s Medical Insurance Evaluation “The fiscal impact is an increase of approximately $57,122 to the Town effective October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2010.”- (health insurance)

Dental benefits will rise 8% – a $3,039 increase

If this stands, employees will continue to be treated to 100% coverage for health, dental, as well as life insurance, long and short term disability and vision care. (That’s at no cost to them yet quite a cost to us.) Employees also receive very generous family coverage on your dime.

The town has also contracted the services of The Center for Family Enrichment for employees, whereby employees have unlimited sessions for all sorts of counseling including marital, divorce, abuse, substance abuse, financial, legal, elder care resources and on.

A plan to reduce benefits and lower costs was offered by the insurer, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, however the documentation here shows no other competitor having been sought for bids to lower the cost. Wouldn’t such a proposal be free of charge to the town? Why was this not pursued? Wouldn’t it be worth looking into? Don’t plan changes often net significant savings? The ideas which BCBS made for changes to the plan, to reduce benefits and costs, was not accepted by the town staff.

In its opening overview, The Gehring Group (the Town of Lake Park’s Agent of Record) states under tab 7, in section 1 of the Employee Benefits Insurance Analysis & Recommendation,  “… the Town still maintains a competitive health insurance plan throughout the county.”

But competitive is certainly a relative term that we should question. I suggest these benefits may be competitive compared to many government entitlements but likely not with the types of policies the individuals throughout the town hold, if they have any at all, and aren’t they the one’s footing the bill?

Kmart Property Rezoning – please let your commissioners and the mayor know if you have any suggestions regarding this rezoning item.

TAB 10 – A vote will be taken on a BANK REGISTRATION ORDINANCE – This is basically a measure which will require vacant and abandoned property to be registered for the purpose of covering maintenance costs and securing someone to manage the property. PLEASE READ THROUGH THIS FOR YOURSELF! I have only had time to scan it and plan to read it fully this evening. But what I saw so far left me with questions. Maybe I’ll change my mind. We all need to do our own homework. It seems to go beyond homes to other abandoned property and gives this reader the feeling it is wide open for interpretation by the town. Once you read on through all of the definitions, maintenance requirements, applications and about the immunity of the enforcement officer, you may find it appears ripe for violations of privacy and individual rights. Some issues to question right off might be what the criteria are for the determinations mentioned here which officers would be able to make. Please read this whole agenda item and contact the commission members with your thoughts. This should be afforded much discussion and debate before going to a vote if it is turns out to be far reaching. The public is most likely unaware of this and needs to be.

Palm Beach County Interlocal Agreement – the town will decide if it is going to abide by its responsibilities as outlined in the interlocal agreement. This has been put off for some time now and will most likely be rushed to a vote tomorrow because of the deadlines involved. Watch carefully.

Watch for rushed votes on many fronts and the amount of discussion of important details that are allowed. Come prepared to ask for Commissioners and the Mayor to vote As YOU Wish.

Have fun stormin’ the castle!

“Think it’ll work? It’d take a miracle…”

Please come tomorrow night and find out where the Town Manager’s, the Mayor’s and your Commissioners’ sentiments lie.