Once again, ourncilors seem seized by chronic budget trauma (CBT), a profane contagion of apprehension, neglect and even dereliction universally suffered, by varying degrees, at all levels of public governance. Particularly acute today in our Marco Island City Hall Chambers is the obvious emergence of a highly virile CBT disorder, as our annual budget begins to take final shape for FY2012.
Of special note is our City Council’s faux misery, pretentious pain and predictable resistance feverishly generated during its budgeting processes. Since FY2002, these aberrant City Council behaviors, disconnected from citizen polls and surveys (and immorally associated with the complete absence of public referendums since 2002), have vividly existed in profound and continuing deepening periods of: (1) High unemployment; severe depressions and fallouts in real estate and most capital markets; (2) Creeping food, health and energy price inflation; (3) Business cycle recessions and inert retail-wholesale markets; (4) Stagnate household wages and entitlements; (5) A systemic, massive loss of buyer, employer and lender confidence; and (6) Acute reductions to personal investment and retirement portfolios.
For Marco Islanders, this year’s CBT appears to have evolved into brute, if not moribund, epidemic proportions. As most concerned citizens have learned, since adulthood, and with jaw-dropping regularity on Marco Island, CBT reveals itself as a collective inability, dread and avoidance by our elected representatives: (1) To cut and reduce public expenditures and costs (2) To cap and limit government borrowing and debt accumulation; and (3) To balance and ballast government budgets and obligations with predictable, stable and reasonable public tax revenues and user income sources.
Here’s a baker’s dozen of critical questions for incumbent and 2012-wannabe City Councilors about today’s on-going budget process. We the People urgently need to know answers to the following as we face the lurking brink of our continuing chaos and possible calamity as a viable community.
1. Are our elected representatives ineptly confused, stalling and/or too incompetent to eradicate CBT today and tomorrow?
2. What are the annual revenue cost increases whenever our $249 million debt is ranked below AAA by Forbes and S&P?
3. Why have we as a community not provided a public referendum to all voters as our budget costs and capital debts have soared to $249 millions since 2002?
4. Starting with our FY2012 budget, what per cent of our budget revenues is allocated to debt retirement?
5. What and where is the officially approved plan to retire/refinance our $249 million debt in the next decade or so?
6. Where in the FY2012 budget and how much are the population density and intensity cost plans for Town Center and the Elkcam Circle redevelopment projects?
7. What per cent of citizens have endorsed and support the redevelopment projects (6, above) according to MICA, MITA and other media polls and surveys?
8. How many storefronts and commercial spaces remain vacant today compared to each of the past ten years?
9. Likewise, what per cent of residential properties (single homes, condos, apartments, time shares, etc.) remain in foreclosure or are “under water” (value is less than mortgage costs) today compared to each of the last 5 years?
10. What official census or demographic data were used, and by whom, to determine our ultimate build-out population in excess of 100,000 residents?
11. Why doesn’t our citizens’ Utilities Cost of Service Advisory Committee publish reliable survey data comparing Marco Island’s average household costs for potable water consumption, sanitary sewer operations, water treatment and costs of irrigation water used per household of comparably-sized Florida cities?
12. Likewise, why aren’t reliable tables of comparative data covering local and county expenditures, revenues and debts of Marco Island and cities in Florida made available annually when municipal budgets are created?
13. Match the 2011 funded debts of the following cities:
1. Yonkers, NY A. $249 millions
2. Vallejo, CA B. $140 million
3. Marco Island, FL C. $62 millions
4. San Jose, CA D. $16 millions
5. Honolulu, HI E. $116 millions
(Answers: 1-C; 2-D; 3-A; 4-E; 5-B)