July 7th, 2010 3:48 PM by Sherry Lee
I have been hard at work campaigning, getting reacquainted with friends and neighbors and meeting many new people along the way.
Real estate has been slow since it is off-season and the tax credit has expired. So, I am blessed to have the time to spend with people, hearing about their issues and making plans for how we will restore our local economy.
What will I do when I am elected Palm Beach County Commissioner for District 2?
I will make a priority of getting spending back to pre-boom levels. This is about sustainability and the promises our government makes on our behalf and whether or not we can afford them. We have examples of other cities, states and even countries who have ignored this issue to their demise. Palm Beach County is filled with generous and hard working people who need to know that government is not trying to bankrupt them. Everything else will have a way of working itself out if we can make the financial stability of our residents the focus at all times.
I will work to make Palm Beach County Government:
Open - public involvement through technology, town halls and teamwork -People know what they need. Government officials need to listen more and talk less. Private citizens should dictate government activities and not lobbyists and special interest groups.
Ethical - workers held to the highest possible ethical standards - Palm Beach County has seen it’s reputation suffer due to corruption and ethical lapses. People need to be able to trust their officials again and officials need to do whatever is necessary to facilitate that.
Limited - lower taxes, less spending & bureaucracy - The more government attempts to do, the less individuals can do for themselves. Limiting government activities and budgets will naturally expand personal liberties.
Equitable – compensation that is in line with the private sector - Passive governing has lead to public sector compensation that is bankrupting local governments around the country. We can learn from our mistakes and take corrective action now.
Sustainable - a budget that fits the new economy - Government is trying to sustain budgets and spending based on boom era incomes and property values. We have a right to have our government live within OUR means.
We need to prioritize the budget – Palm Beach County government has grown at an alarming rate, far outpacing the growth in population and incomes. From 1996 to 2006, the county budget ballooned from 1.5 billion dollars to 4.5 billion dollars, wiping out savings accounts, home equity and ultimately trapping and bankrupting thousands of residents. Now, in spite of double digit unemployment and 70,000 foreclosures, Palm Beach County is still spending over 4 billion dollars annually, crying poor and asking for more. By prioritizing spending, we can create a sustainable budget and stop spending money that we don’t have.
We need to reduce unnecessary revenue collections – We all know the real reason red light cameras were installed. I believe this is a clear example of government over stepping its boundaries in order to collect more money. Other not so obvious examples are going on everyday, like when the county contracted with FPL to raise utility fees on PBC residents by 11 million dollars, and when Commissioner Aaronson asked for a study on putting parking meters in more places around the county, like Miami Beach, where parking is $3/hour. I don’t think the problem is a shortage of parking meters Mr. Aaronson. Miami has a 100 million dollar budget shortfall this year too.
We need to stimulate the economy – The concept is simple. When taxes and fees are lower, people keep more of their own money, and then they spend it on things like giving to the charity of their choice, instead of one the county has chosen for them, or going out to dinner and the movies, starting a new business, buying furniture or a car, or adding on to their home. I would propose a tax holiday for Palm Beach County residents. Let’s put the theory to test and see once and for all if lowering taxes stimulates the economy. We have tried raising them and it hasn’t worked.
We need to restore economic sustainability – Once we prioritize the spending, we can look for savings in other areas, like negotiating more affordable contracts, removing overtime from pension calculations, bringing private and public employee benefits in line, repealing the fire sales surtax bills HB365 and SB100, and 10% pay cuts for commissioners. Limiting government driven priorities will reduce the overall tax burden on individuals and small businesses so they will be able to survive, stabilize, expand, and eventually thrive again.