Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Recessed Council Meeting Tuesday, June 10

In a relatively brief meeting, the TOSS Council passed the new budget by a 3 to 2 vote. Instead of the .09 (cent per $100) recommended by the Town Manager, they passed the budget with the same .0975 rate as this past year.

So the net result of the past four months of turmoil along with considerable cuts in services (Ocean Rescue, Recycling, Chipping Program, and Volunteer Fire Dept.) is: nil ----zilch -----nada. Perhaps Mayor Smith is correct, if I may quote him ( “This comes under the category of you can't make this stuff up”.

Now, the question is, can our services be restored? Probably not. Although the same tax rate was retained, so was the spending plan as designated in the Town Manager's original .09 budget. This gives TOSS a buffer of around $180,000.00, against further loss of revenue or funds to apply to Capital Improvements. We'll just have to wait and see what impacts there are from the service cuts. Retained in the new budget is Council compensation totaling $18,600 plus FICA, roughly equivalent to the cost of the two Lifeguards that were cut from the Ocean Rescue contract.

While reading a prepared statement before the budget discussion, Mayor Smith referred twice to a former council member. Commenting that this individual, 1.“voted for 40% of tax increases” and then that this person, 2. “recently suggested a .10 tax rate”. I confess, he was referring to me.

You be the judge, am I guilty or innocent as charged?

  1. I voted on every TOSS budget during my tenure, and some of those did include tax increases. But as noted in the TOSS Minutes of June 24, 2005, I voted against the budget which included a .01 increase from the revenue neutral rate. So, I don't believe I'm responsible for the full “40%” increase. I'm not even going to try and figure out whether the 40% is accurate or not.

  2. At one of the recent meetings I spoke at the Public Comment session regarding my personal analysis of the proposed budget. My comment s were essentially the same as you find in my post of May 16 on this blog under the title of Conclusions, with one exception. At the end of my statement, in a facetious manner I said (referring to Council compensation) “Why don't you go ahead and round that (tax rate) off to .10 and give yourselves a good raise. I don't think I'll miss the extra $9.26 this year”.

Again I wish to thank those council members that decided to err on the side of common sense and reason. Thanks go to Brian McDonald, Jodi Hess and Jim Pfizenmayer. And, although he did vote against the budget I want to recognize Kevin Stroud for a valiant attempt at a compromise budget. After all, I also voted against a budget for reasons different than those expressed by the Mayor.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What the ....................???

Sorry I just could not come up with a more proper title for this post.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008 Southern Shores Town Council meeting. The agenda can be viewed here.

Note the that in the agenda there was to be an awards presentation “to several SS firefighters, SS police, Duck firefighters, Duck Police, and Dare County EMS members.

Earlier, in preparation for the meeting, as I ran a lint roller over my SSVFD uniform, it dawned on me that there are so few occasions when volunteer firefighters have the privilege and opportunity to wear the official uniform. All too often it is worn ceremonially with a band of mourning across the badge. But for this night it was to be worn with honor by all, to celebrate the saving of lives.

As you may well know, there had been considerable rancor over the TOSS/SSVFD contract. But, it appeared that a negotiation session the previous Friday had resolved most of the primary issues and at this point had been approved by the SSVFD Board of Directors only lacking a formal vote of approval by the TOSS council.

Very few of those who attended this meeting could have anticipated what would transpire, I certainly did not!

After the Council voted to formally approve the agenda, Mayor Smith immediately diverted from the approved agenda by announcing that he had a statement to read. He then proceeded to present what I can only describe as mean-hearted, condescending diatribe, rife with (what I view) as erroneous and faulty information, delivered in the form of an angry rant. Included in his presentation was the threat of forcibly taking control of the department. I will attempt to obtain a copy of his statement to post here in it's entirety.

I truly do not know if his intent was to disrespect and demean those rescuers present, but that was the net effect.

Perhaps he carried it further than he intended, but he did go to far, which I base on the stunned and shocked reaction of the 90+ members of the public present.

At the end of this statement, as a whole, with hardly a word said, most all those in uniform arose as one and filed out of the building. You had to be there to understand, there was nothing else they could have done. They proceeded to the SSVFD South Station to perform the ceremonies. Even though I was one of those to receive a unit citation for participating in a technically challenging vehicle extrication, I chose to stay, feeling compelled to speak.

I may address what I had to say in some other post, more important, were the speeches of numerous others speaking in support of the SSVFD during the Town Budget Public Hearing. On conclusion of the hearing, council deferred until next Tuesday at 7:00 PM the final vote on the budget.

Under old business, Council Members discussed the SSVFD/TOSS contract. It became apparent as the discussion continued, that if the Mayor had ever had any support for his agenda of defeating the contract and dissolving the SSVFD, that support had been severely eroded. I don't believe he would have gone to the measures that he did, if he did not feel he could carry the vote. The result was a 4 – 1 vote in favor of signing the SSVFD contract as agreed upon and modified through the course of this proceeding I can only assume that this action precluded the possibility of the Mayor then proposing a take over the department, at least for another year (term of the contract).

Thank goodness! Common sense and reason prevailed. My faith in the ability of this Town Council has been greatly restored. My thanks go to Brian McDonald, Jody Hess, Jim Pfizenmayer , and Kevin Stroud for recognizing the seriousness and potential realty of their decision.

More to come.........................................................