Related Story: Questions raised about role of mayor and of advisory commissions
Mayor Laura Moss yesterday sent an email “directing” the Finance Commission to not review or make recommendations on the proposed sale of Vero Electric’s Indian River Shores customers to Florida Power & Light. Today Moss attempted to postpone the Commission’s meeting schedule for Feb. 20 until after the next City Council meeting, which is set for Feb. 21.
Finance Commission Chairman, Glen Borvont, today responded to Moss, insisting the Commission can, should and will review the proposed partial sale and will offer its advice to the Council. “Sound decisions are arrived at by listening to all sides of an issue, and particularly those committees the city has designated for such use; like the finance committee, and they are not fostered by: threats, intimidation, or autocratic leaders,” Brovont wrote.
Brovont also addressed Moss’ criticism of the Finance Commission for not previously reviewing the partial sale, as was done by the Utilities Commission, which at the time was chaired by Moss. Brovont wrote, “Prior to being authorized by city council the partial sale proposal at $30,000,000 was not subject to the due-diligent of the city’s finance committee but rather by the Utility Commission that was Chaired by you and supported by a board-member representing, albeit not fully, the benefiting city; Indian River Shores. Although there is an excuse for it, the Vero Beach City Finance Committee was not allowed any input on the partial sale price proposal.”
Brovont also informed Moss he would not postpone the Commission’s next meeting until after the Feb. 21 Council meeting.
In her email, Moss asserted that the Finance Commission “serves at the pleasure of the City Council.” In fact, each City Council member appoints one of the five members of the Finance Commission. Brovont, who was appointed by Moss, wrote, “Although it is not clear in section 2-101 and 2-102 (City Charter) who designates or fires members, I presume you may not incur opposition if you would like to re-leave me. I will forward my resignation if requested.”
Editor’s note: During the recent City Council election, Laura Moss received 70 percent of her campaign contributions from residents in Indian River Shores. She was also supported by a political action committee funded entirely by contributions from Shores residents and from Florida Power & Light. At a meeting held in the Shores early last full Moss was introduced by Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot as “a members of the Shores team.”
Below is the full text of Brovont’s response to Moss:
Mayor Moss: 2/14/2017; From: Glen P. Brovont, Chairman, Finance Committee
I have reviewed your memo of 2/13/17 in it’s entirety and noted your communication chain; so I will respond accordingly.
- You are correct, the finance committee is a creature established by the city for the benefit of the itself and the city Taxpayers, but not exclusively for the Mayor nor to be used to shield elected officials from counter thoughts.
- Section 2-1023, subparagraph (3) line 8 specifically states: — “In performing its mission, the finance commission shall initiates its own proposals, make recommendations, and provide alternatives to the city council”.
- Sound decisions are arrived at by listening to all sides of an issue, and particularly those committees the city has designated for such use; like the finance committee, and they are not fostered by: threats, intimidation, or autocratic leaders.
- When discussing issues involving a political entity, there are by nature “political decisions” because they involve non-private money and people on committees are political people(not just financial people). Be sure our committee members know their are only “advisories”.
- Although it is not clear in section 2-101 and 2-102 who designate or fires members, I presume you may not incur opposition if you would like to re-leave me. I will forward my resignation if requested.
As to the 3(sic)/20/2017 meeting for 2 hours regarding the IRS partial sale proposal:
- This discussion is authorized to the finance committee as noted in number 2 above. Further, prior to being authorized by city council the partial sale proposal at $30,000,000 was not subject to the due-diligent of the city’s finance committee but rather by the Utility Commission that was Chaired by you and supported by a board-member representing, albeit not fully, the benefiting city; Indian River Shores. Although there is an excuse for it, the Vero Beach City Finance Committee was not allowed any input on the partial sale price proposal.
- While the committee recognizes the City Council has agreed to the $30,000,000 suggested price, subject to change. However by the Finance Committee doing its own research, it will bring the committee up to speed on the partial as well as full transaction thereby allowing it, if it is requested, a more rapid informed response: (a) when adjustments to the $30,000,000 are suggested, or (b) if, or if not, a full purchase offer is made by FPL.
Calendar. Time, & Misc:
- While the irony is not lost on me of your bragging about the longest, albeit more costly non-budgeted, city hall meeting this past week, the committee is attempting to meet, and will continue in the future, your request for non-overtime meetings.
- After consideration, the 3(sic)/20/2017 meeting needs to stay at 3(sic)//20/17 to end at 5:00 PM if possible.
- In the past, I personally projected the city’s five year General Fund Budget and came to, within, dollars of the figures provided by Jim O’Connor & Cindy Lawson. It was clear then, as it is now, without authorized, or abnormal organic real estate tax increases the city’s GF budget will remain unbalanced without considering capital expenditures for deferred items or those additionally needed for very aged infrastructure. The strain would be partially mediated by the sale of the Dogertown land.
- Most of the GF department has less than 10% of their total budget allocated to non-personnel cost. Within most of the non-discretionary departments, the staff looks “boned-out” & non-operating cost minimal. There is one exception. The very discretionary but politically vocal “Recreation department”.
- As I understand, it’s budget is without cost related to park lawn maintenance, etc,but eats 10%+ of GF. This is a larger expenditure than that of the combined Public work-Engineering, streets & GIS. Worse it is also projected to rise by about 15% over next five years while the property tax revenue is projected to increase 13%!.
- Given city homes of about 16,500, the RCD spends $130 per home & if only 10% of the homes use it, which is likely, then it subsidizes $1300 per user home! The city’s Property Tax Revenue is only $326 per home (5385590/16500). So the city spends 40% of it’s Property Tax Revenue on Discretionary Recreation Department.
- THE RECREATION DEPARTMENT SHOULD TAKE A SUBSTANTIAL INITIAL REDUCTION (10% AT LEAST) & GIVEN A PLANNED ANNUAL REDUCTION OF PERHAPS 2.5-5% TO ALLOW IT TO CRITICALLY REVIEW & CURTAIL ORDERLY CURTAIL PROGRAM & ALLOW FINANCIAL ROOM FOR EXPENDITURES TO HELP THE LAGOON, OTHER CAPITAL NEEDS & PEBP funding; ALL WITHOUT A THIRD YEAR TAX INCREASE.
- The committee will review the other possibilities as you outlined.