By Darcy Schiller, Ph.D.
On Sept. 22, 2022, the City of Tamarac held a budget meeting to establish the millage rate and budget for 2023.
Mayor Michelle Gomez, Vice Mayor Mike Gelin, and Commissioners Marlon Bolton, Debra Placko, and Elvin Villalobos were in attendance, and the meeting was called to order at 5:13 pm.
After much debate at the previous commission and budget meeting, the commission agreed upon a tentative 7.2 millage rate with a 3-2 vote. This meeting was to determine and confirm that the millage rate was set at 7.2 for the 2023 budget to be established. (This vote needed a super-majority vote of 4-1.)
After Jeff Streder, the Budget Manager gave his presentation, he pointed out the cuts the city would need to make if we lowered the millage rate from 7.2 to 7.0. These cuts would cost the city $1,013,233 in services.
During the public participation part of the meeting, Gelin left the dais and handed out propaganda to the audience. The mayor and the other commissioners were not advised of or aware of what was being handed out.
Ultimately, Gelin was told he was out of order by the mayor and was called back to take his seat on the dais. It turned out Gelin was showing the people how expensive the millage rate was for a new homeowner.
He failed to state that when you purchase a new home or piece of real estate, the millage rate is established by the value of the new home, divided by 1,000, and then multiplied by the millage rate (in this case, 7.0). Hence a new homeowner will pay a higher price while continuing to pay the millage rate established for the property annually (which is less than the first year of ownership).
After all the presentations regarding the millage rate, the vote was taken for a 7.2 rate. It was approved by Mayor Gomez and Commissioners Placko and Villalobos. Vice Mayor Gelin and Commission Bolton voted no. After much deliberation, Bolton finally stated, “…we (Gelin and Bolton) will not vote for anything but a 7.0 millage rate…”.
What happened to the Sunshine law? Maybe someone needs to report this to the state ethics committee?
It was apparent Bolton and Gelin had previously spoken about the millage rate (since Bolton stated both he and Gelin would not vote on anything but a 7.0 millage rate), a clear violation of the Sunshine Law.
For the next three hours, nothing but sheer frustration occurred, and the mayor kept pointing out we must agree on a rate, and if we lower it below 7.2, we would lose over $1,000,000 in services.
There was discussion on lowering the commission salaries, car allowances ($700/month per commissioner), car allowances for dept heads, lowering the travel expense, reducing the number of poorly attended cultural events, and only holding one big one such as One Tamarac.
Bolton and Gelin said no to these suggestions, and the commission remained steadfast because Gelin and Bolton would not budge on their 7.0 millage rate.
Mind you, the savings to the tax-paying resident of Tamarac would be between $14-$28 for the median tax value of a single-family home annually. Yes, you read that correctly, $14 to $28 annually. This is the cost of 2 or 3 movie tickets or lunch for one at a restaurant. Is that worth cutting out over $1,000,000 of services to the city?
Our electric, water, park maintenance, staff maintenance, and city updates all require money. Where do we get that money? We get it from the millage rate.
After almost 3.5 hours and numerous votes from 7.2, 7.15, 7.1, and 7.05, the millage rate was still not approved.
Because the meeting had to end by 11:30 pm, the millage rate of 7.0 was agreed upon. If the millage rate were not established that evening, the City of Tamarac would have been fined millions of dollars. We would have sacrificed many more services, including the services cut from 7.2 to 7.0 plus services due to the fines the county and state would have put upon the city, ultimately costing the taxpayers.
Overall, this was a poor money management decision because it made funding difficult in the future. We must preserve our resources today to cover tomorrow’s expenses (especially with the inflation rate).
With this $1,013,233 budget cut, the city has lost many city-wide recreational activities, a fitness zone slated to be put into one of the parks, and approximately $500,000 in security upgrades.
Do you want Gelin, a self-serving pocket fattening individual, to serve as our mayor? He is only in it for himself.
I implore you to go to the City of Tamarac website and review any of the past budget or commission meetings for yourself. You will see I speak my mind often, and often against Bolton and Gelin and in favor of our residents. We need you to vote.