And why am I posting this now? This is Amy Tidd's heritage. This is what she represented. This is what she fed the people of Port St. John back in 2001 and 2002, hoping that we would vote to incorporate.
Note: This webpage was first put up back in the 2002 PSJ Incorporation battle days. Thus, not all links will still be able to send you to the page intended.
This is a Paid Political Advertisement. Paid for and approved by Linda McKinney 6025 Keystone Ave. Port St. John, FL 32927 Independent of any group, organization, or committee.
I don't know why it is such fun to prove PSJ4T wrong time and time again, and to show how they have mislead people and told half-truths, but it is certainly something a person can get a little bit of fun out of. It's not that I want them to continue: I do not. However, for as long as they will be out there -- whether that means they stop after they are resoundingly defeated on November 5th, or whether they start back up again immediately after being resoundingly defeated November 5th -- I will be here to prove them wrong in the things I find they are wrong in. I suppose you could say that they are now warned: I will be watching.
Let's take a look at the proposed City Charter.
Before I begin my point-by-point remarks, may I point out that the City Charter I downloaded from the State Legislature web site has this key on it:
"Coding: WordsAnything you see in blue ink without being stricken or underlined is the original. At the beginning of the City Charter, there are only 33 lines that are not changed at all. At the end of the City Charter, there are 10 lines that are not changed at all. Other than those 43 lines, the ENTIRE City Charter except for 24 words (every time it says, "Section _", it is the original word and number) was rewritten by the Florida House and Senate. Who put the original piece of (in my opinion) worthless junk together that it had to be rewritten so drastically that only a paltry 43 lines and 24 words survived? And, who sponsored the original worthless piece of junk? There were three names attached to that junk. All three were, at that time, members of Port St. John For Tomorrow.
strickenare deletions; words underlined are additions."
PSJ4T is so very fond of saying that if we incorporate, our City Government won't be "another layer" of government. Well, let's take a look at that.
Florida Legislature's page 1 (in blue ink) of the Final City Charter, corrected and approved by the State Legislature with all of their legal advisors, etc., having had their hands all over it,
"Section 4: Municipal powers. -- The city shall be a body corporate and politic and shall have all the powers of a municipality under the State Constitution and the laws of Florida, as fully and completely as though such powers were sepcifically enumerated in this charter, unless otherwise prohibited by or contrary to the provisions of this charter. The city shall have all governmental, corporate, and proprietary powers necessary to enable it to conduct municipal government, perform municipal functions, and render municipal services, and may exercise any power for municipal purposes unless expressly prohibited by law."This basically says that the State Legislature would consider it another layer of government. It says that it shall be a body politic. It says that it shall have the powers of a government entity. That is another layer of government.
IF a city government is not a layer of government, then the City of Port St. John would have no taxing authority. IF the City of Port St. John's government is not another layer of government, and cannot tax the residents of the City of Port St. John, then they can't raise revenues. IF the City of Port St. John's residents don't have to pay City taxes, then why do both the City Charter and the Feasibility Study say that the City will tax its citizens (no matter how little or how much)? IF the City of Port St. John's government is not another layer of government, and they have no taxing authority, then that blows Ms. Tidd's bodge-it -- even the Postage, Books and Subscriptions -- all to pieces because there won't be any money! Can anyone say, "DUH!!!"
Now, let's look at Ms. Tidd's List of Nonsense Numbers (she calls it a "budget", I call it a "bodget") that suddenly took a turn for the worst when Pete Costello of the Civic League basically verbally shredded it in front of an audience of about 250 people at the October 8th PSJ HOA meeting. On my Reality Check: Budget page, you can see some of the budgets of other Florida cities. The cities that have every little thing listed, are showing a real municipal budget. Those cities that have just the different departments and major ares of spending are showing a "Budget Summary." The difference is important to note because at the October 10th PSJ4T meeting, Ms. Tidd's "bodget" suddenly became a "Bodget Summary"; it was a summary of what they could do. WRONG! Look at the Budget Summaries you get on my Reality Check page and you will NOT see a Budget Summary with things like "Postage" and "Books and Subscriptions" listed. This was, in my humble opinion, an actual effort to put together a bodget that looked good enough to fool "some of the people some of the time." Look at it deeper on my Compare page. You will see that Ms. Tidd's LNN is neither a real budget nor a real budget summary. It is as I call it: worthless.
Okay, now we've looked at the worthless LNN's inaccurate portrayal from day one to present time. Let's see what the City Charter has to say about Ms. Tidd's figures. Florida Legislature page 4, City Council continues with:
"COMPENSATION AND EXPENSES.-- (a) Compensation.-- The council members and mayor shall receive compensation as established by ordinance. Such compensation shall not take effect until the date of commencement of the terms of council members elected at the next regularly scheduled election that follows the adoption of said ordinance by at least six months."This means that all seven Council Members will get paid. Let's look at Ms. Tidd's LNN. After all, any number like that MUST be in a real budget, must it not? Oh, my goodness! No! It's NOT listed! She includes Mileage for Staff and Council, but forgets to put in PAY for the Council Members even though it says in the City Charter that those members will get PAID! A "Budget" or a "Budget Summary": either way, that number should have been in there. To use a Tiddism: "Interesting."
On Florida Legislature page 7 of the City Charter, we have Section (8) City Council Meetings; Organizational Meeting, Quorum, Special Meetings.
"The council shall meet regularly at least once a month, at such times and places as the council may prescibe by ordinance."I have a problem with this in two ways: 1) What was that last word? Ordinance? Can any entity that is NOT a government make an ordinance? No? Then this must be another layer of government. 2) In Ms. Tidd's LNN, we see listed on page 3 "Expenditures" under Administrative Expenditures", there is, "Rentals and leases- Buildings $24,000." Now, if I may get picky for one moment, "BuildingS" Plural? Why the plural? Do we need more than one building, and if so, what kinds of buildings are we going to get with only $24,000 per year bodgeted? And, then there is the fact that the City Council gets to set BY ORDINANCE where they meet and when they meet. Is this $24,000 for a regular house-type building PLUS the rental of a meeting hall big enough to have the 22,000 residents of Port St. John, PLUS the residents of Hardeeville, Delespine, Frontenac and Williams Point PLUS the City Council and the (bodgeted) 3 City Employees -- the City Manager, Assistant Manager and the City Clerk -- in it all at the same time on an important issue? If so, where is that, and how did $24,000 come about as the bodget number for it? And, did she talk to the City Council before she came up with this number? Oh. Sorry. She couldn't do that: they aren't elected yet.
Same section, (8), second sentence:
"Such meetings shall be public meetings and shall be subject to notice and other requirements of law applicable to public meetings."This is where Ms. Tidd's bodgeted $100 Legal Advertising number comes in. The Council will have to advertise the meetings and we have $100 to do that for at least twelve meetings in one year (see first sentence in paragraph above). Hmmm... How is the Council going to do that? I don't know. I guess maybe they won't be able to place but one advertisement per year with all the scheduled meetings listed in that advertisement. But, that doesn't seem to meet the standards of advertising a public meeting two weeks prior to the meeting.
On Florida Legislature page 8, we have (9) City Records:
"The council shall, in a properly indexed book kept for the purpose, provide for the authentication and recording in full of all minutes of meetings, and all ordinances and resolutions adopted by the council, and the same shall at all times be a public record. The council shall further maintain a current codification of all ordinances. Such codification shall be printed and made available to the public on a continuing basis."Question: Which building shall be big enough to hold all these? Is it the house-type building that is also (I suppose) going to hold the three City employees -- City Manager, Assistant Manager and Clerk -- along with all of the things they will need to do their jobs? Or will it be the meeting hall building? Or, is that just one building we are going to have the money to rent? And, if so, how are we going to have room in one average house in Port St. John to hold three employees, the City Attorney, their desks, filing cabinets, the filing cabinets for City Ordinances, meeting minutes, etc., a public restroom for both male and female, a break room for the employees, a reception area, etc., and still meet the minimum square foot per employee required by the Federal government?
Section 6: Charter Officers.--"The designated charter officers shall be the city manager and the city attorney." (1)(c); Compensation:
"The compensation of the charter officers shall be fixed by the city council."To use a PSJ4T tactic: What if the City Council decides not to stick with Ms. Tidd's bodget? Then what? Our city attorney can negotiate for his salary. After all, we really don't want an attorney who would come to us dirt cheap, do we? Remember the old saying, "You get what you pay for"? The bodget calls for "City Attorney [$]45,000." What if the person the Council wants to be our City Attorney is wanting $125,000? What if the person wants more? People do negotiate pay nowadays. As to the City Manager: perhaps the person the Council wants as the City Manager will agree to the amount set for that position: but perhaps the City Manager will want benefits that we didn't figure on. Days off, extra incentive to operate within the bodget, etc.? Can a Council raise the numbers? Of course. Can the Council lower the numbers? Of course. Which have you seen more often (raising the numbers or lowering the numbers) in other governments -- city, county, state, or federal?
Section 6, (2), City Manager (c) 3.
"Be responsible for signature and issuance of all licenses issued by the city, issuance of receipts for all moneys paid to the city, and deposit of said moneys in the proper depositories on the first banking day after receipt."This sounds to me like the City of Port St. John is going to need a safe. Or, maybe we should just trust the City Manager to take the "moneys paid to the city" home with him Friday night and keep it safe until Monday morning? If we decide -- or the City Council decides -- that we need a safe, where is it in the bodget? Maybe we can take that out of the contingency money. Or, maybe we should take that out of the money we will get from "Building Permit Fees" as laid out in the bodget on page 1 under General Fund Total Miscellaneous Revenue? After all, the bodget calls for $320,204. But if you look at my Compare page, you will see that the City of Cocoa only pulled in on the same Revenue item for the entire year of 2001, $95,800; while the City of Royal Palm Beach estimated $52,120 in their budget for 2001.
Under City Manager's responsibilities, we find 7:
"Direct and supervise the administration of all departments, offices, and agencies of the city except as otherwise prohibited by this charter or by law."My question is: What departments, offices, and agencies of the city? With only three employees, how can there be other "departments, offices, and agencies"? Our City Manager will have plenty to do; because there will be no one there to help him or her. Oh, I forgot. Ms. Tidd says that we will do it the smart way and hire someone from an agency that will pay the employee's benefits, etc., and they will already be trained, etc. (Ever notice how PSJ4T seems to be able to read the minds of the City Council that isn't elected yet? How do they do that when we don't even know IF there will be a City, and IF there is a city, who will be elected? Very talented. The Amazing Kreskin has nothing on PSJ4T!) I think this whole thing reeks. Our City Charter says what will happen and how it will happen; not PSJ4T. And it seems PSJ4T isn't all that familiar with what the Charter says, otherwise, they wouldn't be making promises they cannot keep. Or wouldn't they?
Florida Legislature page 11, number 9:
"Prepare and submit to the council annually a balanced budget, budget message, and capital program. 10. Keep the council fully advised as to the financial condition and future needs of the city and make recommendations to the council concerning the affairs of the city."It goes on with financial things the City Manager is supposed to do. Question: How is the City Manager going to do this when there is no City Accounting Department bodgeted for doing our books and nowhere for the offices if there was one? I'll let you answer that one: if you can.
Florida Legislature page 11, under "Powers and duties" of the City Attorney, #2:
"If in-house, shall appoint, suspend, or remove such assistant attorneys as may be required."Again, the City Council is under no obligation to stick with the way PSJ4T says to do things. If the City Council decides to have the City Attorney be in-house for the first couple of years as the City gets started, then the in-house City Attorney will need certain things to be able to perform his/her duties. Those things include a legal library, a secretary and paralegal, an office, three desks (one for each of them), bookshelves, three phones and fax machine, computers and internet access, etc., etc., etc. These things cost money. Again; in my opinion, $45,000 for a City Attorney is rather unreasonable for a start-up city. Doing things for the first time means inexperience and also brings complications. Those complications need to be addressed legally and that means a lot of attorney time. Is the bodget number a reasonable number for a bodget summary or for a bodget? Palm Coast's total City Attorney costs (Adopted 2002 budget): $150,000. You may also want to remember that the people in Frontenac, Williams Point, Hardeeville and Delespine are not happy with the idea of being forcibly incorporated against their wills. If incorporated, the City of PSJ's City Attorney's first duty may be to defend the city against a law suit already being considered by at least one resident in those communities. The bodget does not take that into consideration.
Here's a fun part.
Section 7. "Budget and appropriations.--"In the bodget done by Ms. Tidd, the number associated with "Auditing and Accounting" is $50,000. How can we have a $50,000 Auditing and Accounting bodget if we are only going to have three employees, and if all of our taxes are going to be collected by the County because we won't have a department to do that? What will that $50,000 cover? Will it cover a place for them to work in; a part of one of the buildingS PSJ4T says we can rent for $24,000 per year? So that would be four employees that we have to house in a regular sized PSJ house on less than $24,000 per year, plus an office for the City Attorney? Or will that be part of another bodget portion? Remember, in the bodget, there is no definition nor deliniation of what that money will cover. According to PSJ4T, we will be hiring our workers via a temporary service to do our City paperwork. So the temporary services person/people will be our accounting department? It's so easy to let the details slip away, isn't it? But the details are what makes or breaks a budget. This is one of those budget breakers.
And then there's the truth of the matter: We have no idea who the City Council would be if we incorporated. We have no idea what their ideas on taxes would be if we incorporated. We have no idea what they would want to do to make up for the lack of funds of the City of Port St. John. According to the City Charter, Section 7 (3):
"(b) Reduction of appropriations. --If, during the fiscal year, it appears probable to the city manager that the revenues avilable will be insufficient to meet the amount appropriated, he or she shall so report to the council without delay, indicating the estimated amount of the deficit, any remedial action to be taken, and recommendations as to any other steps that should be taken. The council shall then take such further action as it deems necessary to prevent any deficit and, for that purpose, the council may by resolution reduce one or more appropriations accordingly."Which means, that if we are running out of money, they can reduce our services. Is that what you want from a City; services that are reduced even further because of the "supposed budget" put together by PSJ4T? That's the only thing the City is allowed to do according to the City Charter that becomes law if we vote to incorporate. That; or raise taxes.
The City Boundaries described in Section 9 (1) include the traditional area of Port St. John, and the areas that are currently known as Frontenac, Williams Point, Hardeeville and Delespine. That is forcibly incorporating these four communities. This deprives them of their right of self-determination and the people whose families started this area of their Heritage. It's not a small thing to take away someone's heritage. It's taking away their family history, their family's background. It's an abomination; and more than that, it is sad to think that the people within the traditional boundaries of PSJ are or could be willing to do that so that the people within the traditional boundaries of PSJ will "have a say" in the future of PSJ, but not allow the same self-determination for our neighbors. How can we even think of doing that to someone else, when even the leaders of PSJ4T don't want that done to us? Have they not heard of the old saying, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"? Has PSJ4T forgotten that part? Again I say, it's an abomination!
Section 10 (3) talks about amending ordinances, including tax ordinances:
"Ordinances establishing taxes or fees authorized by general law or the State Constitution shall be exempt from any initiative and referendum."This simply means that if we have a tax increase that is made legally, the citizens of the city have no recourse, no way to make it go away. So the tax that comes, never goes.
Section 12, Transition Schedule (4)(a), says:
"It is the intent of this sectin that the county shall provide and be compensated for the provision of services to the City of Port St. John as budgeted for in the fiscal year 2002-2003 Brevard County Budget for the remainder of the budget year. The level of services to be provided will be consistent with the level upon which the fiscal year 2002-2003 expense budget was prdicated and in accordance with adopted revenues."Again, the "same level of services." We shall not see a change until we do our own negotiating and contracting; which will bring with it a probable raise in cost. Is that what you want?
And again, in Sectiion 12, Transition Schedule, section (4)(c) we find this:
"In addition, services which the county shall provide under the terms of this agreement shall include all services now provided to the Port St. John area as adopted by the Brevard County Commission prior to the City of Port St. JOhn becoming operational on December 31, 2002. Compensation to Brevard County for services provided shall include all revenues which, although accruing to the city, would have accrued to the county as budgeted for provision of services prior to the incorporation of the city."Which basically says (again) that all the money will still go to the County. We won't have better services, we won't have more control, we won't have anything that we don't currently have; except higher taxes and more people able to tell you what to do and when to do it! Again and again and again, the City Charter tells us that we won't have what PSJ4T promises, but some people don't seem to be listening. Why is that?
Section 12, (4)(d):
"It is the responsibility of the city to adopt appropriate ordinances, resolutions, or agreements as required to ensure the continued collection of budgeted revenues with which to fund services beginning February 28, 2003."We shall have to start passing tax ordinances within 13 days of our elected officials being sworn into office on February 15 at 7 PM [see section 12, (3)(d)]. How many people do you, personally, know in Port St. John, Frontenac, Hardeeville, Delespine, or Williams Point with whom you would trust your personal bank account? I ask you this because it is the duty of the City Council to reach into everyone's personal bank accounts and take out any amount they deem fit to be able to run the city on. If the City Council -- NOT PSJ4T -- says that every person shall pay $315 per fiscal year, then that's the amount we shall have to pay. PSJ4T has no say over what our budget actually becomes. It is all -- and exclusively -- up to the City Council. We shall have to pay what they decide. What if they look into our bank accounts and say, "Hmmm... We think it should be $550 per year? We want to be able to do everything immediately." Will you be able to afford that? Will you have to sell your house and move? Will the retired couple that babysits for your three children when you get to have an evening off be able to afford that? How about your friend, the divorced mother of four, working two jobs to make ends meet? How about your children? How about the people of Frontenac, Williams Point, Hardeeville and Delespine? Will they be able to afford paying that kind of taxes in order to have the privilege of being part of a city they never wanted to be part of? What about them?
Section 12 (5):
"First Year Expenses.--The city council, in order to provide additinal moneys needed for the expenses and support of the city, shall have the power to borrow money necessary for the operation of city government until such time as a budget is adopted and revenues are raised in accordance with the provisions of this charter."Debt. Ms. Tidd claimed at the October 10, 2002, PSJ4T meeting that she hates it. But here, it is debt the City faces. The City is given a loan of one million dollars to get the City started, but we have to pay that back. (Aren't you having a difficult enough time paying the credit card and car payments?) But here we go into debt first thing. Which means "Debt Service" shall be one of the big items on the budget. And, that doesn't mean that it will be only the one million dollar loan; our City Council can borrow whatever money is necessary, according to law. But the law doesn't say what kind of interest rate shall face the City, nor does it say closing costs, or anything like that. How do we pay for all of the up front expenses when we are just starting out?
Section 12 (7)(a):
"Until such time as the city shall adopt a comprehensive plan, the applicable provisions of the Comprehensive Plan for Brevard County, Florida, as the same exists on the day the city commences corporate existence, shall remain in effect as the city's transitional comprehensive plan. All planning functions, duties, and authority shall thereafter be vested in the City Council of Port St. John, which shall be deemed the local planning agency until the council establishes a separate local planning agency."So the Brevard County Comp. Plan shall be the City's Comp. Plan? Not for long. Not when you consider that the DCA has a law suit awaiting the outcome of Tuesday's vote. As soon as the vote is counted and the results are known, the DCA can either jump on Port St. John, the City, or they can jump on the County with their law suit that awaits the vote results. Which would you rather it be? Think of it this way: if they jump on the County, the County takes the brunt and they stand as a shield between us and sewer as the County has since 1994. If we become a City, the DCA jumps on the City of Port St. John and says, "Okay. Now you have to figure out how you are going to make this happen." No help. No advisors. No County Attorney and, P & Z, nor Commissioners between us and the DCA. Just the DCA and the City of PSJ looking at each other in an almost empty court room and knowing who has more power. Who will represent us in that court room? PSJ4T? No. Our City Attorney; if we've had the time to hire one before the DCA jumps. If not, I suppose it will have to be PSJ4T because they signed the bill as sponsors. Could prove interesting.
Well, this is the City Charter stuff that concerns me. You have to make up your own minds about this stuff. You have to decide for yourselves if becoming a city is something that would be good for you, your family and your wallet. If incorporating is something you think would be good for you, your family and your wallet, there is still that one last question that I want you to ask yourself. And that question is:
This is a Paid Political Advertisement. Paid for and approved by Linda McKinney 6025 Keystone Ave. Port St. John, FL 32927 Independent of any group, organization, or committee.