BOCC: Budget Silliness

New Monroe County Logo2I watched the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) budget meeting online.  It’s torture, but it’s helpful if you really want to know what’s going on with Monroe County government.  As usual they go into excruciating detail about certain aspects of the budget and gloss over others.  They mine for meaningless statistics in order to give the illusion of good performance, while completely ignoring enormous failures.

Here’s some interesting stuff I picked up.

12:06 – Comm. Kolhage got a case of the vapors because there’s a typo in the CAFR.  Heaven forbid!  This is the same Comm. Kolhage, who, while serving as Clerk, failed to get juror payments out on time three years in a row.  The same Comm. Kolhage who, while serving as Clerk, neglected to pay sales tax and was penalized by the state.  Oh, the irony.  By all means, freak out over a typo.  That apparently is a huge problem, but the budget overruns on every project they touch aren’t even worth a mention.

By the way, Kolhage directed Kevin Wilson to tell the Clerk about it.  Passive aggressive.  Comm. Carruthers gasped and tut-tutted.  Apparently, she was so overcome by the horror of this ghastly typo that she could not properly verbalize her dismay.  Poor thing.  Maybe staff should add a fainting couch to the capital plan.  Better make it three.

Kevin Madok, who is running for Clerk, eagerly nodded along.  He worked in the Clerk’s office during the late juror payment era.  He was also there when that whole unsavory Stand Up for Animals (SUFA) situation went down.  The Clerk’s office played a pivotal role in that fiasco with their questionable audit.  Let’s not forget that Madok was also the author of the shameful Emergency Services Surtax “white paper”.

So apparently a typo is the end of the world, but all this other monkey business is perfectly okay.  As usual, the county has its priorities in order.  Not.

12:11 – Comm. Neugent snidely complains that he can’t get answers to his emails.  Ha.  Welcome to the club, buddy.

12:18 – Comm. Carruthers and Comm. Kolhage once again lectured staff on the importance of fiscal restraint.  Hahahahaha!  As we know, they are the two biggest spenders on the BOCC.  They routinely blow through capital project budgets like they’re not even there.  I could see maybe one commissioner being this in-your-face dishonest, but two?  They do this repeatedly.  Nobody calls them on it.  Ever.  The other commissioners have their own skeletons, the press is too lazy and the public just doesn’t pay much attention – too busy working three jobs.

Just once I’d love to see a staffer stand up and point the finger right back at ’em.  Never happen, but a girl can dream.

12:32 – They spend $1 million on animal control and $2 million on human services.  Comm. Neugent and Comm. Kolhage were joking around about something.  Maybe it was the Stand Up For Animals (SUFA) fiasco?  Maybe it was the fact that their staff lied about the animal control numbers?  Maybe it’s the unnecessarily high kill rate at the Upper Keys shelter?  I don’t know.  Either way, I don’t understand what’s so funny.  Animal control is one area where good government would make a big difference.

I’ll finish with a general comment about the capital “plan” presentation.  It was amorphous and uninformative – the exact opposite of what they need.  I will say that it looks like staff went to some effort to inventory assets and catalog their condition.  If the county is ever going to get its capital projects program under control that is a necessary first step.

Unfortunately, the presentation itself was incomplete and disjointed.  They need to prepare a “sources and uses” report.  And they need to track budget to actual.  Certain members of the BOCC (Kolhage, Carruthers) are going to resist that.  Right now, infrastructure sales tax money is treated as a slush fund for wasteful pet projects.  I’m sure they’d like to keep it that way.


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