April 1, 2010 - There is an On-Line service that offers access to any public employee’s pay and benefit records. While we find that interesting we wonder just how useful this information might be.
April 15, 2010 - The budget cycle never ends. As we begin another one, we would like to prepare our taxpayers for some surprises. In 1992, Florida voters passed the Save Our Homes Amendment in an attempt to protect “homesteaded” residential properties from rapid and continuing tax increases. As Constitutional Amendments are likely to do, this one is now in the second year of demonstrating its unanticipated consequences approximately 18 years after its passage. The Class Size amendment is another one whose negative effect on your tax bill has occurred much more rapidly than Save Our Homes. And the proposed Amendment 4, another and potentially much more dangerous example of unanticipated consequences, could easily be misunderstood by voters and, if passed, have much more dramatic and expensive consequences for all taxpayers.
May 1, 2010 - Most of us in Martin County believe School Funding is approved by the Martin County School Board after a recommendation from the School Superintendent. Unlike what most of us believe, the State of Florida Department of Education, DOE, actually mandates the cost of education. The school administration, with approval from the School Board, allocates these dollars to fund the education of our children.
November 5, 2011 - In a departure from our usual views on County issues, we believe some recent national news regarding Medicare that will certainly impact County taxpayers should be shared with our readers.
May 15, 2010 - A recent editorial in the Palm Beach Post entitled “Push Back on State Pensions” brings to our attention the much-needed reform of state and local pension programs covering public sector employees. Most Americans do not enjoy the richness of the pension plans that our elected officials have passed for their own benefit as well as those that govern public sector employees. The Post calls their editorial a “warning”, and we agree. Not only are funding levels of public sector plans becoming dangerously underfunded because of the poor economy, they are unsustainable for the most part because they deliver on promises made to government employees when wages were low. This is no longer the case, and the differential between private sector and public sector pay and benefits grows larger and larger each day.
November 19, 2011 - In a recent article in the Stuart News, an issue was raised about the School Board’s rejection of a $63,450 grant from the Pew Foundation for nine senior staff employees to attend a leadership training program at the Darden School at the University of Virginia. This is a unique program conducted at prestigious colleges for top leadership groups in both the public and private sector. The vote against allowing the Superintendent Nancy Kline and eight other senior staff to attend was 3-2 against with Busha and Sorensen voting to allow the staff to attend..
October 8, 2010 - Our articles usually focus on ways that government can improve the way it functions and how taxpayer dollars might better be spent. In today’s article, we wish to recognize a particular program in the School District we believe is well conceived meets and often exceeds its goals and deserves every dollar invested in the program. Martin County School District’s Career Academies offer students an opportunity to get an early lead on a rewarding career path in a variety of high wage, high demand professions.
December 3, 2011 - In a recent article in the Stuart News reminded us of the fact that the County is faced with a serious dilemma brought on by the acceptance of the 3.6 million dollar federal SAFER grant that allowed Fire and Rescue to hire an additional 33 firefighters over a 5 year period. The conditions of the grant were that a portion of the cost would be absorbed by the County each year ultimately assuming the total cost by 2014. We are now midway through the grant and facing the question of how to pay for the 33 new employees in the amount of approximately $2.8 million in payroll costs. For the record, the MCTA advised against accepting the grant for a variety of reasons uppermost which was the need for an additional 33 people in the department when 9 additional staff (or a total of 42) were added to reduce overtime hours. The BOCC apparently thought differently and approved the grant.