By Sharon Aron Baron
An investigation into whether city protocols were followed after a leaked budget amendment memo got into the hands of the media may cost taxpayers up to $50,000. That’s according to the recent agenda item scheduled for May 12.
After the memo was leaked to the Sun-Sentinel which disclosed perks well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years, the city commission voted 4-1 on April 28 to hire a company to investigate.
In a memo obtained by the Sun-Sentinel dated March 28, the budget amendment proposals would be paid out of the city’s financial reserves and include full health insurance, an increased retirement package, $15,000 in new furniture for a city commissioner, $30,000 in technology, and reimbursement for education for commissioners.
But instead of pointing the finger at the commissioner who made the budget amendment requests. Several members were upset it was leaked to the media — even though all documents are public record.
One item on the budget amendment directly points to Commissioner Marlon Bolton is the $15,000 for office furniture.
In 2019, Bolton was the only commissioner who did not request new furniture when the other commissioners were redecorating their offices. And he made sure everyone knew.
Bolton declined new furniture because it didn’t feel right to spend taxpayer’s money while showing no real return on their investment — only encouraging commissioners to spend more time in their offices rather than out in the community. He said the residents were the real bosses.
“We should go to them. We answer to them — never the other way around.”
At the April 28, meeting Commissioner Mike Gelin was concerned the media first saw the memo before he even had a chance to view it.
“We have to ask for the memo to get the memo,” he said, stating that this was is a significant lack of communication.
“It’s disturbing, and it harms our reputation, and I take my reputation very seriously.”
Commissioner Debra Placko was upset about the leak and denied she wrote the request.
“I don’t know who did. I don’t care who did…I did not.”
Both Villalobos and Gomez denied the budget amendment items in the memo as well. We emailed Marlon Bolton and asked him and did not hear back.
The resolution on May 12 calls for the city to retain the services of Kim Vaughan Lerner LLP to conduct a “name clearing” investigation into whether city protocols were followed regarding the drafting and release of certain documents related to a proposed budget amendment.
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