By Agrippina Fadel
Will Tamarac commissioners finally do away with the $700 car allowance — something several residents have been demanding for months?
The commission is discussing both the vehicle and cellphone allowances at Wednesday’s meeting. Both items are requested by Commissioner Elvin Villalobos, who, in supporting documents, suggested that the car allowance should be reduced, eliminated, or replaced with city-issued vehicles. He also suggested using the IRS code of reimbursement for mileage instead of the current rates.
This is not the first time the commissioners would discuss the allowance; the most recent debate took place at the September budget meeting when Villalobos and Mayor Michelle Gomez agreed it could be eliminated, while former commissioner Debra Placko said she didn’t want to decide for the future members, as her tenure was almost done.
Former Vice Mayor Mike Gelin then said that car allowance was a regular part of benefits and suggested the city looks into similar perks for the directors of the departments. Commissioner Marlon Bolton appeared to agree with cutting the car allowance. Still, he said he would only support it as part of more extensive measures, which included cutting all event budgets and the initiative fund, getting rid of the PDA allowance, and community engagement liaisons, and cutting the commissioners’ salaries in half.
However, when asked to vote on removing the car allowance, Bolton said “he will not bifurcate” or divide his suggestion, making it an “all or nothing” deal and prompting Villalobos to call him out for making an empty proposal knowing it would never be approved.
When the commission discussed a city-run pet pantry in January, Bolton supported the idea and said he would buy $700 worth of pet food and donate it to the pantry as a “good gesture.” “And we all know where that $700 will come from,” he said, seemingly alluding to the car allowance.
A resident commented, “Grossly misusing city funds should be frowned upon, even if it’s being spent on a good cause.”
The $700-a-month perk costs taxpayers $42,000 a year, and residents called for the commission to remove the car allowance for good. It was also a hot topic during the last election when every candidate was asked their opinion.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Tamarac City Hall, 7525 NW 88th Ave. Open to the public; the meeting is also broadcasted live.
- Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master's in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.
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