Missing Money, State Money, Fire & Rescue

beach-16698__180I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving.  I sure did.  There was lots of cooking, traveling, fun, laughter and togetherness.  There’s so much to be thankful for.

Now that I’m back, I’m catching up on the news.  As always, there’s lots going on.

Trouble at the School District…Again

There’s $20,000 missing from the School District.  Here’s a few of the headlines.

From KeysNews.com (the Citizen):  Porter denies cover-up allegations.

From the Blue Paper:  Superintendent Porter Explains His Handling of Unaccounted for $20,000 in HOB Daycare Program Funds.

From KeysNet:  Schools superintendent accepts some blame in how missing-money issue is handled.

Ugh.  Here we go again!  Maybe another item for the Scandal Sheet.  From the KeysNet article:

King & Walker auditors interviewed Godfrey and stated in their report that she told them “for a vast majority of receipts written, the cash receipts were written for more than the actual cash collected.”

The auditors found that Godfrey did not turn in cash to the district’s bookkeeper at the end of each business day. Instead, according to the King & Walker report, Godfrey handed typically waited until the end of the week.

 “Godfrey” is Tina Godfrey, the day care manager.  Why on earth would you write receipts for more than the cash received?  That makes no sense to me.  It seems much more likely that the receipts were written for the correct amount and somebody pocketed and/or lost the cash.

The weirdest thing about all this?  Nobody at the school district wants to “assign blame”.  They don’t consider “assigning blame” very worthwhile or very “nice”…I guess.  But it’s not about “assigning blame”, it’s about accountability.  Figuring out what went wrong and who is responsible is part of that.  It’s an essential step in making sure nothing like this happens again.

Who is this Tina Godfrey?  A quick Google search turned up this mention.  If this is the same Tina Godfrey, her soft ball skills are appreciated by former Key West city commissioner, Tony Yaniz.

I hope they keep track of the kids better than they keep track of the money.

Trips to Tallahassee

Local officials sound very optimistic about the Florida Keys Stewardship Act.  I hope they’re right!  Rep. Raschein and her staff are excellent.  I’m sure they are doing a great job.  But they can’t do it alone.

My concern, of course, is Monroe County and their continuous need to lie and play games.  The inept and sleazy way they operate can easily undermine all the hard work done by Raschein and the other entities.  The mishandling of the Cudjoe Regional project has given the Keys a black eye.  It’s a tremendous obstacle to overcome – hopefully not an insurmountable one.

There’s also the negligently unfair funding of the wastewater projects.  As if that weren’t bad enough on its own, county officials continue to deny it in the face of well-documented evidence.  This, of course, undermines their credibility even further.  Once again, their lack of integrity reflects poorly on everyone.

On top of all that, the county is looking at new spending opportunities.  They want to buy conservation land, initiate a storm water project, continue with the canal restoration project, etc.  These are all legitimate needs, but what plans does the county have in place?  How do the taxpayers know that the money will be used fairly and responsibly?  How does the state know?  Unfortunately, the county’s track record does not inspire confidence.

I can’t help but think the county’s past actions are a factor in the governor’s decision not to include money for the Keys in his budget.  I would certainly think twice if I were in the governor’s position.  Even so, the Keys have substantial needs and they are a significant contributor to the state’s economy.  In most cases, the entities of the Keys have proven they are capable of using tax money efficiently.  Key Largo and Marathon, in particular, have acted responsibly in building their sewer projects.  Hopefully, the lobbying team will be able to play up the successes without getting called out on the failures.

Milestone for the Key Largo Fire & Rescue District

There’s a nice letter about the Key Largo Fire & Rescue District (Fire District) in last Wednesday’s Free Press.  The Fire District is officially ten years old!  It’s been a tremendous benefit to the Key Largo community.  It’s no coincidence that when Key Largo citizens have input into how things are run, efficiency increases and cost decreases.  When they don’t have to subsidize the nonsense that goes on further south, their cost burden is naturally reduced.

The Fire District is a prime example of this principle at work.

When the district was formed in 2005, the residents were paying 1.6735 mills ($167.35 per $100,000 of assessed property value) for fire and ambulance services, and today unincorporated Monroe County residents are paying 2.1403 mills ($214.03 per 100,000). Since its inception, the district has worked diligently to achieve rollback or below rollback whenever possible.  In 2006 the district millage rate was .7537 mills
($75.37 per $100,000), and today the fiscal year 2015-16 millage rate is .8223 mills ($82.23 per $100,000).

Here’s a link (see page 11), but as we know the Free Press disappears each week.  Annoying!  In case you don’t have a chance to read it before it disappears, I took a snip:  District Celebrates 10th Year.


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