By: Sharon Aron Baron
Next month, Mayor Harry Dressler will be attending a two-week program at the Harvard Kennedy School in Massachusetts to learn about taxation – coincidentally paid for by the very own taxpayers of Tamarac.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, taxpayers will pick up the tab for the class ($12,000) + travel and other expenses (2,000) which includes an upgraded first-row seat on a JetBlue plane when he attends the course on August 21.
The question is, why is Dressler, who is president of his own company that advises attorneys in security-fraud lawsuits, going? This appears to benefit his business interests.
Why is the city not sending our finance director, Mark Mason, to this seminar instead? Mason, a CPA, has been with the city for seven years and has worked with three different mayors. Dressler, who will be term-limited, may not even be with the city as long as a director, and therefore this type of excessive expense is not practical for an elected official of a small city.
But it’s not just the mayor. All of the commissioners are travel-happy as well. The Sentinel reports that there are 30 trips planned this year in Florida and the US, and taxpayers will be picking up the estimated $80,000 tab.
The City of Tamarac has one of the highest tax millage rates in Broward County – exceeding Coral Springs and Parkland. This type of excessive travel budget is not on par for a city this size with a lower property tax base.
Dressler said that [the class] will be helpful to learn about tax policy “and what the implications are ethically and practically to the people being taxed.”
He needs a $12,000 class at Harvard to tell him this?
When did our city start subsidizing our elected officials to further their higher education? If Mayor Dressler wants his certificate from Harvard, then he should foot the bill himself, not from the taxpayers that voted for him.
Other commission members are attending meetings all over the country. Eleven trips for newly elected Commissioner Marlon Bolton, a pastor, in nine months budgeted costing more than $19,000. Who needs to travel that much to represent eastern Tamarac? Do these commissioners now think they’re Fortune 500 executives?
Commissioner Julie Fishman, the so-called “social media consultant” budgeted more than $16,000 in travel, including a trip to San Diego in October for a National League of Cities leadership summit. Fishman must have thought she hit the jackpot when she won this election. With no real job experience behind her, this must feel like the big leagues.
But how can both Bolton and Fishman even empathize with how much this costs the taxpayers when both of them don’t also pay property taxes in Tamarac. Yes, both Bolton and Fishman don’t even own a home in the city.
Placko has traveled to Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., and later this year will head to Charlotte, N.C., for a National League of Cities event. Why does she need to go to all of these places? Michelle Gomez, an attorney, reportedly planned on spending $11,000 in travel in Florida and out of state, including for meetings on behalf of the Florida League of Cities. How many people do we need traveling around for Tamarac on behalf of Florida League of Cities?
There’s a point in which someone who is leading this city needs to put their foot down. But how do you do that when you’re one of the ones doing the spending?