Palm Bay: Strap Up.

As we have previously written, tonight is a regular Palm Bay City Council meeting where the Council will vote on the controversial ordinance that changes the procedure for appointing a City Council member when there is a vacancy.

It has always struck us as odd that the City Council choose this moment in time to change the way the vacancy is filled. To us, that means that there is something else afoot.

That something is the “busting of the cap” – the millage cap that the City Council can only do with a super majority vote of at least 4 votes.

Some of the Council members have signaled their intention to want a higher millage rate that is above the cap. In that the budget has to be approved by September 30, even the “compromise” position offered by Johnson won’t make a difference if there is a tie vote. The City will still have to pass a budget and millage rate.

This means that while the issue is substantively about the process of seating a new Council person, the effect is to have the budget vote of four like minded people who will likely vote for busting the cap.

While people’s home insurance, water bills, electricity, food and other goods and services go up when many have lost jobs or at the very least have lowered income, the City Council – specifically three members and one to be named later – will signal that they cannot live within a budget. Home values have risen in the City which means the City will be getting more money at the current millage rate, but these three tax and spenders want more and more and more.

The three members of the Council who voted to pass the new way of filling a vacancy did so because they said they were worried about tie votes. Tie votes would mean the item would fail. Somehow they think that is a bug in the system. We think it is a feature. If you cannot get a majority of 4 elected officials to agree on items, maybe it is the fault of the item. Maybe it is because the members are so unwilling to debate, discuss and listen that they are unable to compromise. However, as we said, in the case of a super majority to bust the cap, that 4th vote is needed.

We have heard people complain that a special election would be too costly. If that is the case, and the City Council wants to hang their hats on that, why did all three of the votes that went for this proposal say they were for a special election, just at a later date?

Money doesn’t seem to factor into their thinking as far as spending, but it does when it comes to the cap.

Furthermore, even taking the Supervisor of Elections’ estimate of a special election costing Palm Bay approximately $250,000, that means each of the roughly 77,000 Palm Bay voters would be on the hook for roughly $3.25 to have the special election. Who in their right mind would not want their right to vote for their elected officials to be worth $3.25? That’s less than a Starbucks coffee.

No, this is about the cap. It is the only thing that makes sense.

We encourage people to come to the meeting tonight and voice their opinions on the matter. We expect lots of passion and anger, but we are hoping that the passion and anger will be contained and that the hundreds of speakers and people in attendance will not turn into a rabble or mob. That is the worst thing that could happen because the meeting will be cleared, and the vote will take place anyway.

Show up. Be passionate. Speak your mind.

See you there.

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