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Gainesville City Commission Has an Insatiable Spending Addiction

BY JENNIFER CABRERA / MAY 8, 2019

This article is a transcription of Nathan’s citizen comments at the Gainesville City Commission Budget Workshop on May 7, 2019.

I was disappointed that Mayor Poe was not present at a city budget meeting where double-digit property tax and fire assessment fee increases have been proposed by staff to balance the multi-million dollar deficits in the city budget. The Gainesville City Commission fails to recognize that it has an insatiable spending addiction with taxpayer money; you expect residents to keep bailing you out. You keep spending money that you don’t have; that’s exactly why you have multi-million dollar deficits. 

The budget deficits reflect the economic reality of your failure to govern in a fiscally responsible manner. You refuse to cut a penny of your wasteful discretionary expenditures – not a penny, not a single reduction of discretionary spending was shown in the slide deck, just uncontrollable spending.

The Gainesville City Commission is quick to raise GRU rates and propose double-digit increases in property taxes and fire assessment fees on hard-working Gainesville families but refuses to cut a penny of its wasteful discretionary expenditures. 

In the midst of a budgetary crisis, the Gainesville City Commission continues to eat catered meals at taxpayer expense and travel all over the county on taxpayer-funded junkets. None of that was cut. Why? 

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You have a $150,000 budget line item for an Executive Chief of Staff; is the Gainesville City Commission really that out of touch with reality? I ask you.

Our dedicated police officers put their lives at risk every day; public safety should be priority #1 for the Commission, but your actions clearly show it’s not. Our Police Union doesn’t have a contract.

Let’s talk about the increments – another expansion of city government. You can’t pay for what you already have, and the core city services are already suffering. We already pay taxes for you to clean up trash. In the wake of the fraud, theft, and lack of internal financial controls in city departments, why isn’t the city better managing existing resources to ensure that this is done? 

At the end of the last City Commission meeting, Mr. Bielarski said that two transmission lines went out. After the meeting, I asked him to identify specifically which two lines.  He told me I needed to submit a public records request. That’s not a good use of resources. I’d also like to know if he reported those transmission line failures to FRCC (the Florida Reliability Coordinating Council), which would otherwise be required.

And you guys have the audacity now to say there’s no interest in cutting the general fund transfer by $6 million. Why am I not surprised? 

Commissioner Johnson asked why there was no rate increase proposed for 2024. Well, if you look at the supplement to the official bond statement, you’ll see that GRU has proposed 2-3% rate increases over the next 5-year increments. So, again, what they tell you is not what they’re telling the financial community. 

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