Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Community Action Team Minutes from August 15, 2011 (revised)

District 2 Community Action Team

Community Meeting August 15, 2011
Minutes (Participant comments paraphrased)

·         Meeting Called to Order at 6:05pm

o   Opening Prayer was given by Commissioner Ben Preston

·         Brief Overview of Previous Meeting(s)

o   Goals of the Community Action Team

§  Educate the community to city government processes

·         By holding community meetings for us to discuss local politics and inform the public on the workings and goings on at City Hall.

·         Demonstrating and explaining things like how to read the Budget, City Agenda’s…etc

§  Elevate our community beyond the status quo

·         Making people aware that by participating in the local government we gain political power that we can use to obtain the things we need in our community to improve the way of life of our residents young and old.

§  Eliminate that which would and is hindering us

·         Explained that with that participation we can ask for better treatment by our public services, which would improve the relationship and therefore increasing the chances of reducing crime and other ills in this community

·         Presentation by Hugh Dunkley of City of Deerfield Beach (CODB) Finance Department

o   Introduction to the 2011/2012 City of Deerfield Beach Budget

§  Explained the need for the Utility tax and how the City had a 14% decrease in its millage rate the largest among any entity in Florida.

§  Explained how the Budget was generated

·         Presentation by Andre Samuels

o   Items in the 2011/2012 Budget that may be of concern to District 2

§  Discussed the franchizing and possible privitazation of the solid waste department and that discussion could possibly be happening abt Oct or Sept 2011

·         He advised that the disadvantage of this is the City would lose its pricing power and would be at the mercy to the outside vendor.

§  He advised that Federated Precision was a new company coming t town offering 66 jobs, so he advised to have all residents advised so if they wanted to apply they are aware.

§  Discussed a comment made by Bill Ganz in relationship to creating Enterprise Zones, which would give tax incentives to businesses and utilizing CDBG public service funds to achieve that goal.

·         The overwhelming response was “NO”. That those funds should be used to create programs for low/moderate income people in the City to improve their standard of living with better oversight by the City to ensure that all funds are used as they were intended.

·         It was also discussed that the City may be looking into having an outside firm take over the administration of the Community Development Dept.

o   We were advised that Peter Parkin, Head of Communtiy Development had been dismissed from the City and that the City would be looking toward privitizing the administrative functions of that department with an outside source, such as *Community Redevelopment Associates

*After this was posted it was confirmed that Peter Parkin is still with the City of Deerfield until such time as the firm is selected, approved and has begun the process of taking over admin functions of CDD.

*After researching this group it was discovered that its Director is Early Johnson, who was the Executive Director of the Deerfield Beach Community Development Corp. back in 1982 and ran unsuccessfully for City Commissioner twice against Carl Nixon in 1986 and 1989.

o   Budget Workshop August 18, 2011 at 7pm at City Hall and Public Hearings will be held on September 6 and 20 at 7pm at City Hall

§  All residents are encouraged to attend these workshops and hearings
·         Question and Answers regarding Budget

o   Jean robb inquired with Hugh Dunkley as to the amount of funds that are proposed from the utility tax revenue that will go into lowering the millage rate.  Mr. Dunkley advised none because the City will lowerthe millage rate which will create about a $6 million deficit and the revenue from the tax combined with concessions from the employees, and the merger of the Fire Dept with BSO will make up the difference.  He advised that the main intent of the UT is to create a fair shavng of the tax burden among all citizens who utilize public services and to create less of a reliance on one tax source (Property tax)

§  Dunkley advised that CODB is the only City of its size that does not have a UT.  He also advised that the State created the UT’s so that municipalities would have a way to obtain revenue that were not based on property values.

·         HE advised that there was a significant decrease in shared revenues, such as the ½ cent tax and others, which signifies that our “economy is not doing much better”.

o   He stated that the UT came about when the City Staff were asked to provide some tax relief to tax payers and the Utility tax was a way to equalize the playing field.

·         HE aslo advised that with 50% of our Budget going to public Service and that amount is ever increasing we had to look for new ways to create revenue for the City to continue to afford to run itself.

·         He also advised that CODB has 10% unemployment rate as of June.

o   Jean inquired about the amount of funds within the undesignated fund (UF), to which Mr. Dunkley advised that he had not anticipated that question and therefore did not take a “temperature reading”, so the amount he could not tell specifically.  Jean stated it’s about $11 million and Dunkely said it may be closer to $10 at this time.

§  Jean stated that if the City wanted to keep it’s Bond rating it is only required to have 5-15% of the Annual Budget which is $73,834,061 and so the City would only need to keep abt $8 mill in the fund utilize so it is a viable option that the City could utilize $3 mill of the UF coupled with the $2.9 mill in savings with the BSo Merger, as well as the savings from the Union negotiations which is abt $2.5 mill and use that to lower the millage rate which only takes $4.9 mill which would still leave the City with abt three million to obtain the revenue bond so they can get the $25 mill that they wanted for infrastructure and park reno’s.

·         This option, Jean has advised the City of publicly many times.

·         Jean continued to say that this is the “wrong tax at the wrong time” to which a resounding applause was heard.

·         Mr. Dunkley advised that this tax is a vehicle to equalize the playing field for the tax payers to ensure that everyone pays their fair share the usage of public services.  To which Jean responded you already have that with the Fire Assessment Fee which was created and the residents was advised that was it’s purpose.

§  David Cody asked Mr. Dunkley, when the tax is rescinded how much will it cost the City andMr. Dunkley and Jean advised about $102,000 to take it to referendum so the residents can vote on the tax, instead of just having it imposed on them.  Mr. Cody inquired if the Budget figures would be changed if by the Sept 6 (The public hearing for this 2011/2012 Budget) to which Mr. Dunkley advised that the City Manager, Burgess Hanson< more likely than not would not change the proposed Budget figures they would just look for other means of obtaining the needed funds to run the City as proposed.

·         With that Commissioner Ben Preston addressed the crowd and advised that the City is going to get the revenue whether it be through the UT or other means and history has taught us that other means are going to be “layoffs” and he stated that “when the smoke clears” and the City has their money wo is going to be hurt the most.  To which the audience replied District 2.  He continued and stated that layoffs may be suggested by the City Manager to obtain the needed revenue and the departments that most vunerable will be the first cut, which are Parks and rec and public works, which are the main employers of D2 residents.  HE said he would rather D2 residents take a bee sting with the cost of the UT, than a full arrow in the back with layoffs.  He indicated that he felt that the D2 residents and City Employees in the Non-uniformed Union had taken enough hits with the layoffs and now with the Union Agreement of 5% across the board pay cut.  Which when you think about it is not fair…The person making $160,000 is not as adversely affected by a 5% cut as the person making $28-$40 thousand.  The difference is basically a choice of buy groceries for the lesser paid employees or a summer vacation by the higher paid employee, which is not fair.  So he advised the audience to consider what is being asked of us when it comes to supporting the UT.

§  David Cody advised the group that this is the decision we can either sign the petition and support Jean and continue to stay involved and attend Commission meetings, workshops and develop our political power as a community so that our residents are not vulnerable when this comes to pass or we can rely on historical trends of us not giving a damn and being apathetic and so our departments are vulnerable but we don’t have that bee sting of a UT to worry about personally, while or neighbors in D2 go without a job because the City implemented layoffs to gain the proposed revenue it indicated it needed.

§  Jean inquired why we believed that if the tax is rescinded that D2 residents would be laid-off. She stated that has been here since 58’ and our residents are the “backbone” of this City. 

·         Someone mentioned privitizing those departments, Solid Waste, Parks and recs, and public works. To which Jean advised that Sanitation is not paid through the General fund(GF), but through the Enterprise fund(EF) and so the City could not generate revenue for the GF by laying off Sanitation.

·         Commissioner Ben Preston reiterated that at the end of the day many cities first course of action to increase revenue is to consider layoffs.  That’s the historical trend and fact…He indicated that he felt that our District has suffered enough and his intention because he despises new taxes, is not to impose this tax, but to ensure that when the smoke clears and the revenue is generated that D2 has not taken another hit and it’s residents are worse off than before the question was ever raised.

·         Overview of CODB August 16, 2011 City Commission Agenda

o   Appointments to the Deerfield Beach Housing Authority (DBHA)

§  Sally Potter and Mike Weiss???

·         Sally Potter was introduced to the audience and David Cody advised of her accomplishments and volunteer efforts already in within the City.  Bett Willett added that Ms. Potter was “a whiz with numbers”.

·         A discussion was had regarding Mike Weiss.  An Audience member advised the group that all they knew of Mike Weiss was that he was a past recipient of CDBG funding and he gave the staff “HELL” and then when the work was done he basically threatened staff to have the City’s legal lien removed off his property.

*August 19, 2011 after this was posted it came to my attention that Mike Weiss was not allocated CDBG funding for his home.  He was allocated SHIP funding which basically the same holding the same criteria that it's recipients be low/moderate income individuals to qualify for a 5 year loan to make repairs to their home.  If the owner resides in the home for the length of the loan (5 years) then and only then is the loan forgiven and the lien removed.*

·         It was indicated that he lived near Chaz Stevens and that they were possibly acquaintances or even friends, as he had been mentioned on Chaz’s blog.

·         Commissioner Preston advised the group that he has met with Mr. Weiss and he was informed that Mr. Weiss is not acquainted with Mr. Stevens and that Mr.Weiss advised that his only intention is to serve the community by being appointed to the DBHA board.

§  David Cody stated that since there was such controversy over Mike Weiss and since there is only one African-american individual on the board and since there is only one individual on the board who lives in the community that is primarilay served by the DBHA why not offer a nomination of more D2 residents to be on the board, so that way all perspectives can be discussed and heard during DBHA Commission meetings.

·         With that Commissioner Preston advised the group that he had already thought of this and that he had a suggestion in mind of asking Mayor Peggy Noland to withdraw Mike Weiss and appoint Andre Samuels because Andre Samuels has a record of service to not only his community of D2 but to the City as well, as he has already served on a CODB public board.  He indicated that Andre Samuels could provide a valuable insight, not only from the aspect of being a D2 resident, but because he is a young educated professional that can relate to the daily plight of the low/moderate income individuals that are served by the DBHA. 

§  Timothy “Chaz” Stevens has been removed from consideration as a Board Commissioner.

·         District 2 City Commissioner Ben Preston was instrumental in making this possible when he petitioned the City Atty for options on a reconsideration of his appointment vote.

·         Details can be read on

o   The Group discussed the vulgar behaviour of Chaz Stevens and the chaos that his appointment would have caused on the DBHA.

o   It was pointed out that how could the Mayor appoint an individual that when they were appointed the last time quit their position without thought of the community.

o   It was also pointed out that his actions and comments were not indicative of someone that should be appointed to any City Board because of the misogynistic, chauvinistic, and racially biased comments that he has made against women, minorities, the elderly, and homosexuals. Many of which are served by the DBHA.

o   CDBG Annual Action Plan

§  CDBG funding allocations for the 2011/2012 funding year is looking to be approved. 

·         Home rehab $225,275-projects utilized for low/moderate income individuals to provide home repairs and removal of barrier removal.  

o   It was advised that the application process has not started yet and it is first come, first qualified.

·         First Time Homebuyers $159,696-provides down payment and closing cost assistance to first time homebuyers who purchase properties in the CODB.

·         Public Service $100, 377-provide funding to assist organizations deliver new or expanded services which may include: family financial or housing counselling child care fair housing activities, mentoring, help for at risk youth as well as other community services such as: job training, transportation services and elder services which ar eleigible under area benefit to low and moderate income clientele.

·         Infrastructure Street Improvements $50,000-Street resurfacing

o   The City just expended $200,000 from the 2010/2011 CDBG funding for street resurfacing which you may have noticed here in D2.  They now want another $50,000 to complete this project which they ar taking the funds from the CDBG which could be used by an individual to fix up their home.  Especially since they indicated that the revenue from the utility tax would be used for infrastructure improvements.

·         Planning and Administration $133,837-cover the cost of the administration of the CDBG program.

o   BSO/CODB Fire Dept. Merger

§  50% of the CODB Budget would be controlled by BSO

§  An estimated $3,149,975 in the first year.

§  According to the City Manager and BSO, additional yearly cost savings cannot be estimated or guaranteed.

§  BSO has guaranteed that we will maintain the same level of service or higher.

§  The 104 current employees still remain part of the CODB Defined Pension plan which currently cost the City $2.5 million and it is estimated to increase $1.1 million/year for the next 15 years due to the closure of the plan.  The City feels it has no real option to close the plan w/o losing the 175 premium tax money of approximately $835,000.  Presently 61 employees will be eligible for retirement in the next 10 year.

·         Commissioner Ben Preston advised that at present the “City cannot afford to keep the Fire Dept as it is”.  That this is a viable option for cost savings and our level of service would improve.  He indicated that he had toured the BSO Fire Headquarters and was highly impressed with their operation.

·         David Cody stated that according to the City’s Fire Experts a volunteer fire dept either full or partial is not a viable option for the CODB, he requested that all residents contact their Commissioners to ask for the report which was generated indicating this information.  If no report was done analyzing the numbers, cost-savings, safety concerns, as well as benefits and risk, then no expert could have made a determination such as this and therefore we should not go forward with this irreversible decision until all viable options are properly and thoroughly researched.

·         It was advised that the original amt of estimated savings of $3,149,975 has been reduced to about $2.4. million and that numberis not the finalized amount of cost-savings within the first year.

·         David Cody advised that the finalized numbers and agreement will not be decided in public by the City Commission, but it is proposed that it be finalized in a closed door meeting by the City Manager and City Attorney.

·         Question and Answers

o   It was asked of Commissioner Preston what he would do about BSO and the mistreatment of residents throughout the City.

§  Commissioner Preston advised that the BSO has a grievance procedure in place to handle these incidents and if any resident is not satisfied then they can contact him directly and he will look into the situation for them.

§  Andre Samuels advised that he has been working with Deputy Santy on creating a Citizens Council to help review the resident complaints and bring the issues to light to BSO and the City Commission for resolution.  He also indicated that he hopes to have more Deputies involved, but because of the fear among the officers of having the Citizens policing the police is a little bit scary.

·         David Cody advised Janice Majors that she should get in contact with Andre to help him in his endeavors as she has been one of the most vocal in regard to the relationship with BSO and D2.  So it only right that she be part of the solution.  Other volunteers were solicited. 

·         Commissioner Preston advised that he will assist in any way that he can.

It was stated that BSO had been conducting presentations in the churches related to improving the relationship b/w BSO and D2.

David Cody advised the audience if they feel that the information presented by any individual is incorrect then they should take that opportunity to present what they believe is the truth.  They should not wait for someone else to present the information.  They should not wait for COmmissioner Preston to show up to give a presentation.  Mr. COdy asked what if COmmissioner Preston doesn't make the rounds to the specific church for months while individuals who know the information just sat now nothing is accomplished, so everyone most do their part in keeping this community informed.

Someone stated that in the last election many people felt upset that so many people was running or they just didn't know who was running so they didn't come out and vote.

David Cody advised that again, it is up to us sitting in this room and all others who claim to care and be concerned aboutt this community to go to those people and give them the information they need.  We all most take responsibility for our community.  We all are accountable, not just elected officials.  If we all wait for the next person to do something that we ourselves can do and then no one does it, then nothing is accomplished, which is a trend in this community which we must change.  We have to many excuses to why we either can't do something or aren't doing something.  We have to just acknowledge the past and move on to work toward a better a future.  These grudges are holding us back as a whole.  We all have to speak up, participate, and find ways to get over the barriers that we each know are there.
o   Ms. Keitt asked about the procedure of inspections on the CDBG approved renovations to homes.

§  She was advised that the procedure is the same as if it was a private resident doing home improvements.  The CODB Inspectors, Fire and Building, would inspect the progress and finished project.

o   She asked if their was a process to file a complaint if the work was not done properly.

§  She was advised that there should be some language in the contract between the homeowner and the contractor as to the process.  If there was not the homeowner could file a complaint through the Community Development Department, Better Business Bureau or other State Agency who handles for complaints against licensed professionals or construction complaints.

Bertha Pratt advised the audience that we must stop coming to these meetings and griping because that does not accomplish anything and does not help our community, we need to use these meetings as they intended purpose educate us, teach us the issues, discuss openly and honestly and then find ways to improve the situations, instead of just holding on to the past and griping about the past, which keeps us from solving the problems to better our future.

·         Closing Prayer by Commissioner Ben Preston
·         Meeting Adjournment at 8:25pm

These minutes are an accurate representation of the discussion that took place at the meeting.  Some details and information has been excluded.

All resident's of Deerfield Beach are encouraged to attend these meetings which are held every first and third Monday preceding a City Commission Meeting.

The Community Action Team would like to thank Hugh Dunkley and Miguel Augustin for coming out and giving a great presentation.  We would also like to thank Commissioner Ben Preston who, out of the gate, has dug in and begun working for the people of his District and the entire City of Deerfield Beach.

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