By: Sharon Aron Baron
Office furniture once used by former elected officials isn’t good enough for the Tamarac commission after they decided to replace theirs — on the taxpayer’s dime.
Although her office furniture was only 12-years-old, Mayor Michelle Gomez spent $10,795.29 plus $1,435.78 for new carpeting. Commissioner Mike Gelin spent $11,099.91 to update the furniture from 1988, Vice Mayor Debra Placko spent $8,005.46, and Commissioner Julie Fishman spent $6,291.30.
Fresh paint for both the mayor and vice mayor’s office was $820, and carpeting for all commission offices and reception area was $8,169, including labor.
Total cost: $45,795.74.
Only one commissioner, Marlon Bolton, refused to order new furniture. He said he was uncomfortable with spending money of this magnitude and that it should have first been discussed in a public setting for residents’ input.
Commissioner Gelin, whose furniture expenditure cost the most, said it was ordered from the same catalog as everyone else’s and was meant to last 20-30 years. He insisted it was the city staff who decided to purchase furniture for elected officials in November or December 2018.
“From what I recall, they said the furniture extended its useful life,” he said.
Gelin said an agenda item for the furniture would never have gone before the citizens because the amount was less than $60,000.
“As elected officials, we make decisions on policies that impact our citizens. We do not make decisions on administrative matters or on expenses that fall below $60,000.”
Although his desk had a few scratches, Commissioner 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.”
Pictured below: the Tamarac commission and their old furniture, which had “extended its useful life.”