The agenda for the Executive Session, which deals with negotiations with the Fire Department Union and starts at 6:00 PM, is here.
One of the items of interest that caught our eye is in City Manager’s report which announces the appointment of a City Assistant Manager:
I want to welcome Andy Stewart to our City and to our employee family, as he will be starting as our new Assistant City Manager on June 24, 2013.
Andy Stewart was one of the four finalists for the City Manager’s position which was eventually given to Courtney Barker.
Stewart was the City Manager of Dundee, Florida before accepting the job of Assistant City Manager here in Satellite Beach.
That being said, we are a tab bit cautious of this hire.
The reason being is that while in Dundee, Stewart got into a bit of a tussle with a former Vice Mayor of the City over many issues including a car dealership Stewart purchased. We accept the premise that there is a certain intensity of “small town politics” which is difficult to describe. In a town the size of Dundee with roughly 3,000 people it is difficult if not impossible, to not be caught in the middle of some nasty back and forth politics. It is difficult for us to separate some of the issues in Dundee and definitely say “so and so was right.”
While we have been focusing on the CRA / City / County agreement, we also want to make mention of another item that was on the Community Redevelopment Agency Board’s (CRAB) agenda last week.
At issue is was a resolution to increase the CRA budget.
It sounded innocuous at first, but in some ways, the discussion between the Board Members was quite telling.
During the discussion, Sheryl Denan asked “where the money for this was coming from? I think this is from a ‘sinking fund.’”
Denan’s question is not a good question – it is a great question.
Last year the previous City Council voted to establish a “sinking fund account.” During the discussion, the City’s Financial Director, the City’s Attorney, and the City’s Accounting firm were all asked to give the legal parameters of a “sinking fund.” There were also accounting parameters which the City must follow in the establishment and duration of the fund as well.
One of those parameters is that you cannot remove funds from a sinking fund in the first year of the fund at the minimum.
If this resolution seeks to remove money from the sinking fund account, the City has created another issue for itself.
In response to Denan’s question, City Manager Barker responded that she had contacted the Bank of America and they said they had no record the account was a “sinking fund.”
We found that comment to be curious. While we are not accountants, we could not understand why the City’s bank would have taken notice of a line item account in the City’s budget. We equated it to our bank knowing what our home budget for food was in our checking account. (more…)
We have been following the proposed agreement between the CRA / the City and the County. Now that the agreement has passed the CRA Board, it will be presented for approval to the City Council during the regular meeting on June 19th, and then supposedly head to the County Commissioners for their meeting July 9, 2013.
However, something else has come to light that took place while the City and the County were in discussions on the issue.
The dollar amounts originally given to the County by the City were wrong.
The initial numbers sent to the County were as follows:
After realizing the City hadn’t included all of the funds due back to the County, the City went back and reworked the numbers to be what is now within the agreement:
After discovering this, we asked ourselves this question:
“Would the numbers initially being presented to the County have been wrong if they were calculated by former Finance Director Brenda Raver?”
Of course, such a question is hypothetical and amounts to discussing “how many angels fit on the head of a pin?” Yet we are left with the feeling that Raver – a 17 year employee and winner of “City Employee of the Year” – most likely would not have made this error. Anyone can make small errors in something of not great importance, but when it came to big issues – such as this one – we cannot remember Raver ever making this type of mistake.
It is impossible to escape the conclusion that in it’s first big task under the City’s new re-organization plan, the new structure initially failed.
In a June 3, 2013 email to the County, City Attorney Jim Beadle says there is a delay in the sending the County the final proposed agreement due to “fine tuning of the numbers,” which is a nice, professional way of putting things.
Later that night, City Manager Courtney Barker sent the revised numbers to Jim Beadle, the County Attorney Jim Knox, and other County officials.
Ever since I can remember, my parents have always put some money aside to purchase US Savings Bonds.
In May of this year, my mom got a notice from the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond, Virginia that one of her bonds was coming due and they wanted to know how to disburse the money. The letter apparently gave some options and also said she could call the Richmond office to discuss those options. Mom called the office and was told that if she filled out some paperwork and returned it to the Richmond office, the Reserve would put the value of the bond directly into her checking account and without her having to wait for a check or anything. In addition, the Reserve would put the money into the account either on June 1, June 2, or June 3, and pay the interest through June 30, 2013 when the bond actually had fully matured.
My mother, bless her heart, is often meticulous in these matters. She wrote down who she spoke with. She wrote down the address of where she was to send the paperwork in Richmond to. (Even though the person talking with her told her the address would be on the forms, mom wanted it written down.)
The forms came and mom dutifully filled them out as required.
As also required, she sent the forms back to a division within the Federal Reserve offices in Richmond and sent them via certified mail.
June 1, 2013 came and not only was the money not in mom’s account, she also hadn’t gotten a confirmation of the forms being delivered.
June 2 came and went.
June 3 passed by sunny and warm but no funds in her account.
June 5th and 6th passed with nothing appearing in her account. (more…)
The Satellite Beach Community Redevelopment Agency Board (CRAB) met on Thursday, June 13, 2013.
Amongst the items on the agenda was to “discuss / take action on interlocal agreement between the City, Brevard County and the Community Redevelopment Agency.” We had written about the agreement previously, as well as the misplaced idea to blame those who may have brought the alleged mis-appropriations and spending to the attention of the Office of the Clerk of the Courts.
At issue is the transfer of funds from the Community Redevelopment Agency to the City in order to pay what was called “enhanced public safety,” such as the police and fire department. The question arose as to whether the funds could be used for that purpose under the City’s own CRA plan, and whether the expenditures were allowed by law.
In 2011 – 2012, the City negotiated an agreement that would allow the City to re-pay the CRA the funds that were used for those “public safety” services. The agreement was assailed by many within the city who thought the City Council should have sought an authoritative legal opinion as to whether the City had, in fact, mis-appropriated the funds. The City Council decided the City would not gain anything by pursuing such an opinion, and might have something to lose in the area of fines and penalties.
Fast forward to May of 2013 and the City is faced with paying back the County for contributions it made to the CRA which were then mis-appropriated by the City for the “enhanced public services.”
This past Thursday, the CRAB met to discuss and vote on what is being called an “interlocal agreement” between the City, the County, and the CRA.
The initial discussion from members of the CRAB was somewhat spirited. It is fair to say that Sheryl Denan has always looked to protect and enhance the CRA and therefore looked at this agreement as money coming from the City which would have gone to the CRA. In addition, the agreement is part of a plan put forth by City Manager Barker that would seek to increase the City’s reserve fund. That plan was initially proposed to be a 3 year plan. However, the proposed agreement is is for 6 years – twice as long as originally proposed.
The exchange between board members became too personal for our liking. Too many personal attacks and blame for the lack of reserves don’t fix the problem.
At the end of the discussion, it seemed clear that this agreement was going to pass. The Board then opened up the floor for citizen comments. (more…)
A friend of ours lives out west and has some acreage on which she, her husband and her children count as family members their horses, cats, dogs, goldfish, etc.
For the last few years, the family has enjoyed the presence of two little male dogs who belie their names – “Sergeant” and “Cujo” – names which conjure up images of much larger dogs than the diminutive dogs in reality.
However, recently, the family has acquired another dog – a female border collie.
As the Cujo and Sarge were basically indoor dogs or at that very least, dogs that don’t go outside unsupervised, previously there was very little chance of them getting another dog pregnant. That changed with the female dog entering the home and the family made the wise and prudent decision to get the two male dogs neutered. (The female is not yet old enough to be spayed.)
Our friend called us on the way to the vet’s office to discuss some business and we casually asked where she was going. ”
“I am taking Cujo and Sarge to the vets’,” she said.
“So they can get neutered?” we asked.
“SHHHHHHHHHHH!” she replied. “I don’t want them to know. They think we are out for a ride.”
She hung up the phone as she pulled into the vet’s office and after dropping the dogs off, called us back.
She seemed slightly irritated.
“Do you know what happened?” she said. “We were the first people in the office so the dogs were running around having a good time when the vet’s assistant came out and said ‘these are the dogs that are getting their testicles chopped off?’”
(Indelicate, but rather accurate.)
She continued, “as soon as he heard that, Sarge came back over to me, lifted his leg and pee’d on my foot! And I am wearing sandals!”