First Things First – Public Service 101

The 2012/2013 Lake Park budget is next up on the town’s agenda. This Wednesday the Town of Lake Park will host a Budget Workshop at 6:30 p.m. in town chambers.

Here is a link to what will be on tap during the workshop:

8/22/12 Budget Workshop Agenda 

Mr. Rane, the Lake Park Finance Director, has put a lot of work into preparing this proposed budget which is included in the agenda. Please take the time to look it over and see where our town is headed under these plans. Mr. Rane has included numerous year by year comparisons and has clearly presented costs for the various salaries and departments in this budget. You can get a good sense of the state of our town and where many of the priorities and problems lie by looking at where our money has gone and where it is proposed to go.

The Role of Public Safety in Lake Park

After last week’s meeting, what I took away was that the desire of the commission, led by the Mayor specifically, seemed to be to cut public safety aspects of the budget by challenging the costs and services provided by PBSO. Commissioners Longtin and Rumsey voted to renew the contract with PBSO as presented, but the mayor and commissioners Stevens and Hockman want further discussion at the upcoming meeting. The mayor wants to cut services to public safety to save money, despite the fact that the Town Manager made clear that he has already spoken to the PBSO and we are getting the same deal we have had for the same price and they don’t intend to give us any more for that price, nor do they intend to reduce costs when their costs continue to rise. Commissioner Hockman wants further discussion due to his desire for a promise of a minimum number of officers on the road at all times. Stevens continued his push for us to part ways with PBSO (or at least consider it) to have North Palm or some other municipality take us under their wing and provide our public safety. The mayor, Commissioner Stevens and Hockman won out and this discussion will continue.

Public safety is one of the main roles of government. To hear Mayor Dubois want to cut services in this area citing budget woes is quite disturbing. If you consider the things he has supported our town spending money on in the past, one might be concerned about his view of the role of government. What is more disturbing is the way the Mayor holds himself in such regard as to apparently misunderstand his own role in our town government as well. Repeatedly, it appears that Mayor Dubois forgets he has one vote among five, which carries no more weight than the others. Because he is the figurehead, he routinely (and I see no other way to say it) hogs the mic with his opinions, while he bloviates ad nauseum, shuts down dialog when disagreed with, and attempts to insinuate his opinion into the narrative. It is disconcerting. This is not an anomaly. It happens each and every week. The mayor continues to push for revenue, revenue, revenue…which is all well and good, except he wants it from MORE TAXES (in a small town with obviously very limited resources) and he wants to find money for other things by lowering levels of basic services (which is what residents are paying for, not social services), while supporting with his vote time and again questionable projects, employee salaries and benefits, and other programs and policies that cost our town dearly.

He forgets that it’s not his mic and it’s not his money.

Small Government Wisdom Required

Only when our town gets back to a limited government platform, where basic services, such as public safety, through fire and police protection, as well as care for our roads, sewage and sanitation are the main focus will we find ourselves back on track.

However, the Town of Lake Park seems to be confused about its role. It has morphed into a place where government tries to run businesses (having taken control of a swath of the private sector of Lake Park through the CRA, which is frankly just a mess financially and otherwise, as well as a huge drain on our town resources, not to mention that it’s unsuccessful), act as a charity organization and social club while making government employees the recipients of salaries and benefits quite above the level of probably most who live within the town who have to pay those salaries and benefits through their taxes. While these things are fun and enjoyable to town life when basics are in order and the town is riding high financially, these things should not be on our town financial radar if they pull from revenue needed for basic services. It’s like a family who is so concerned with parties, sporting and social events that they spend all their time and money on them and come home to toilets that don’t flush, no electricity, the front and back door wide open to criminal elements as well s the garbage piling up. Then they state they don’t have time or money to deal with those things. Kind of reminds you of someone with an addictive personality. In Lake Park’s case, the addiction is frivolous spending that leaves the important things in jeopardy.

First things first, Lake Park. The time has come to pare back on the frivolous and the “want to’s” and focus on public service 101.

Don’t forget to check out the proposed budget to which I have linked above and attend this week’s budget workshop at 6:30 p.m. to have your say.