Last night was the annual Town Meeting here in Wilton Manors. Starting at 7pm and lasting past 10, there were discussions on many topics. There were a lot of cases where things ran from one to the next, and it seemed to me that a good job was done in getting the information across.
There were only a few cases where some of the people in the audience were confused and managed to show it by being, well, frankly clueless. Normal where any complex issues would be presented, there are always a few people who miss a key detail and are left behind.
The majority of the issues were shown to be pretty much what I had expected them to be, no real surprises. We don't have a sinkhole opening downtown that threatens to swallow people up like they did in Guatemala, nor are our backs against the walls.
The financial discussion that led off the meeting bore that appraisal out.
The situation is that the City carries some financial reserves in case of an emergency. What was presented was that the reserves that were not set aside for a specific purpose are equal to that amount that the City normally spends in 60 days. Those 60 days being 15% of the normal budget.
Due to the drop in revenue that was caused by the Republican Induced Great Depression we are struggling with, the City can expect a shortfall of $800,000 from its income. The result is that the departments and their heads have all been instructed to come back with reduced budgets. At this point they are trying to find ways not to cut people and rely on retirements to help that shortfall.
The City Budget is 13.8 million dollars. It is required by State Law to be balanced, we can't just print money like the Feds and have it magically appear. There were some interesting comments made about where that money is going. Approximately 2 million of that money is going out to former employees in the form of pension payments. Whether that is a good or bad thing to do is immaterial, but when the discussion comes up about money and pensions, these dollars are eyed at as being a payment to "nothing". Future employees are all part of the Florida Retirement System and not subject to the old Pension system that we had set up here. The general feeling is that we just have to wait this one out and over the years, those Pensioners will slowly stop collecting as they pass on.
The Current Budget will be set up as 44% for the Police Department, 24% for Leisure Services. The rest of the departments that were budgeted out of the reserved General Fund comprise the rest, all of which were significantly less. Hopefully the Police Department won't have to suffer cuts.
The thought is that with the situation as bad as it is this year, it may be worse next year. For now the intent is to get through this year not laying any people off but they will most likely be required to take unpaid days off as a furlough here and there.
Better than I had expected financially, at least we won't have a financial meltdown in this difficult time.