This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on BocaWatch.org, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
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What is more dangerous than a politician with a surplus? An unelected bureaucrat with millions to spend who’s afraid of being accused of fiscal mismanagement.
Tell me again, Mr. City Manager, why are we paying that special tax assessment or floating yet another bond issue? Why do you need more of our money?
BocaWatch articles chronicling our city’s financial surplus– $260 million and counting—must have hit a nerve. Suddenly Leif Anhell and his merry band are massaging the numbers to make that surplus vanish and are looking for ways to spend the money they can’t make disappear. They have years of experience, and are very good at this.
The May 20th Financial Advisory Board meeting was instructive in this regard. They brought in someone from the Water Department. He testifies that everything is “working great.” But then he says the city needs $600-700 million to upgrade our water and sewer system—1/8th of the capitalized cost every year. They plan to issue bonds to pay for it. That’s $50 million a year to upgrade Boca’s water and sewer infrastructure. Infrastructure that they have been upgrading and maintaining every year, to the point where it is “working great.” When pressed on this, the man from the Water Department downgraded the system to “good.” I’m sure when and if there’s a bond issue, Boca will be at risk for cholera.
We need a clear understanding of Boca’s financial position NOW. Simple questions: what are the revenues, what are the expenses, what are the liabilities, what are the funds available in reserve? How much money is in reserve in the CRA accounts? Then the City Council should hold a public meeting to discuss the state of Boca’s financial strength and the way forward. Ironically, under Florida’s unintended-consequences “sunshine” law, the only way our Council Members can talk to each other is in open session. Well, better to have this discussion in the open (as awkward and unscripted as that might be), than not to have it at all.
And please, please do not leave things to Lief Ahnell and his cohorts. They have the power, they would like to control the numbers, they think they know what’s best. They were not elected, but they have been running Boca for too long. Time for Mayor Singer and his fellow Councilmen to step up and take charge.
See Municipal code: Sec. 17-162. – Water impact fee fund, sewer impact fee fund.
An audit of this fund might prove to be a valuable and informative exercise.
For every permitted water meter installed there is an impact fee charged, which supplies this fund.
Due to ADA requirement, the current “User Fee Schedule” is no longer available on line, but this fee schedule spells out the amount of the water/sewer impact fee for each residential, commercial and even sprinkler meter installed. A public records request will reveal the amount of the fee, but it may be $10K+ per meter installed. How many new homes, apartments, and commercial water meters have been installed in the past few years?
I believe the impact fees are pledged to existing bonds.