WPB has a new Budget

I attended the final budget meeting and it was approved without loss of city employee furloughs or layoffs, although 5 jobs are on the line.

There is a new young group that attends the meetings and they are sharing their thoughts with the mayor and commissioners and are asking for an open government with full disclosure. Unfortunately for the mayor they wont be leaving anytime soon.

One speaker was upset with the report on police overtime and asked no raises be given to the police dept. in 2021. I disagree. You can’t hold an entire police dept. responsible for the failings of a few who took advantage of the system. It took the Internal Auditor to bring the issue to the city’s attention. Who really failed here?

1) A supervisor had to approve the timecards.
2) Gregory Key, Special Assistant to the Mayor ( Public Safety) is the liaison between the mayor and police dept. He didn’t notice?
3) Mark Parks, Chief Financial Officer for WPB. Why didn’t the finance department notice the abuse?

I requested, and received PRR (public records request) on city officials and “perks” they receive. Some I knew about some was a shock, and I am enclosing them with the story.

“Commissioners Discretionary Fund.” Each Commissioner receives $7,500.00 /year. I have a problem when commissioners contribute taxpayer dollars to the Chamber of Commerce, who has for many years rented city owned building and land at 401 No. Flagler Dr. for #1.00/year when the Property Appraiser has valued it at $12,653,733.00. 5 commissioners @ $7,500.00 = $37,500.00.
Read the report below:
Commission Expenses April to Sept 2019 (2)

“Car Allowance. Years ago a former commissioner complained about the paperwork involved in receiving reimbursement money he spent on gas in his private vehicle used for city business. So a resolution was passed and they voted themselves $500.00/month. My surprise was 4 other city officials who also received the benefit. So we have 9 people receiving $6,000.00/year= $54,000.00. Read the report below.
Vehicle Allowance ALL City report 9-23-2020

The real surprise to me came when Mayor James did not receive the Car Allowance. As City Commissioner he received a total of $48,000.00 over 8 years. The shocker was when I discovered the city purchased a 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV Full Size 4×2 which is assigned to James. Another surprise was discovering Gregory Key, Special Assistant to the Mayor, was driving a city owned 2019 Ford Explorer SUV Mid Size. I find it hard to believe Mr. Key received a car (2019) before James (2020). I assume James had received the Ford and was not pleased with it’s performance and ordered the Chevy. What to do with the 2019 Ford? Give it to my friend Mr. Key. Does Mayor James has a city credit card he uses for gas purchases?
See the report below.
Copy of Take home vehicle list 09.24.2020













Now the city must double-down and get on with the business of a new contract with the firefighters and police departments.

The mayor’s job is to set policy, the commissioners job is to oversee the IA (Internal Auditor) dept. and vote to spend taxpayers dollars wisely.

If the City Commissioners refused to allow a contract with PSC Security or any other security company the city would have saved eight million dollars, enough to fund the police force, hire the officers needed to protect the city.

If City Commissioners stood together and refused to waste millions more tax dollars fighting the State Rd. 7 expansion that would take care of the fire fighters and build new firehouses and buy needed equipment.

Ending on a positive note. City Administrator Faye Johnson’s probationary period ended in July, and she was due to receive her 5% pay raise of $12,450.00. Ms. Johnson informed me she did  not accept the increase, and I thank her for her decision.
The end.