BY THE OBSERVER STAFF
1) What should be done with regard to the housing market?
All property owners in Ormond Beach need the “real truth and transparency in taxation.” If a commissioner votes to increase the millage rate from 3.89 to 4.01, it is a tax increase.
The Zone 1 Commissioner just voted to raise your property taxes. Promoting lower property taxes is good government on a budget.
During the past five consecutive years, the overall assessed value has declined nearly 35%. All property owners, home owners and businesses alike, are spending more of their wages, savings and investments to pay higher property taxes.
What is needed in the public discussion is leadership and proven experience with municipal finances. According to the auditors, the net worth of an organization is good indicator.
The net worth of the city of Ormond Beach coupled with the unfunded liabilities of three pensions is an overall consideration. According to the past annual financial statement, dated Sept. 30, 2010, the city recorded unrestricted and restricted assets of $45 million. Unfunded pension liabilities are more than $39 million. This leaves less than$6 million to determine if the city is under water.
What are the numbers today? As a commission, we must deal with the bottom line and not an unaudited reserve percentage in a line item. The commissioners and mayor are considered employees of the city and earn pension and benefits.
As an employee for the city for nearly 10 years, I receive a pension benefit and will forfeit my current pension of $1,325 per month and will experience approximately a 33% reduction of income. Whenever the commissioners and mayor vote on the pensions, the commission votes on the pension they may become or are vested in.
The commission needs to examine how their benefits can be paid on a cash, instead of an accrual method and thus begin the reduction of unfunded liabilities.
The housing market is still being artificially supported by the Federal Reserve, the FED, with a discount rate of nearly zero. The housing market needs to return to a free market. Interest rates matter and an artificially low interest rate helped create the housing bubble in the first place.
2) Is there room for further cuts to the city budget, or would that mean sacrificing services too
All budget line items need to be reviewed, reduced or removed. Competition in the market place will help reduce costs especially with noncompetitive contracts with consultants, engineers and sports lighting.
Noncompetitive purchasing, or “sole sourcing”, costs the taxpayer tens of thousands of dollars.
Purchasing requirements to do business in Ormond Beach needs to be restructured to allow an easier exchange of goods and services.
All permitting fees need to be rescheduled, reduced or removed for businesses to create goods or services. A Repeal Over-Regulation Advisory Committee needs to be activated. Eliminating unnecessary cost of Hydrofluorosilicic acid will save taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars and Nurture a Healthy Ormond Beach.
Fluoride is a dangerous and controlled substance, not a human nutrient like a multi-vitamin. Moreover, the decision to include water additives for medical reasons should rest solely between you and your doctor.
Informed consent is a standard practice for all medications. We can do better for our friends and neighbors with due diligence.
3) Why should people vote for you instead of your opponent?
Representation requires voting on tough roll call votes. A commissioner must vote on each item unless a legal economic conflict of interest exists. If an economic conflict of interest exists with Ormond Crossings or John Anderson Drive, the commissioner must abstain by law.
As commissioner, I will warranty that I will not have 19 conflicts of economic interest on the City Commission.
Repeated conflicts of economic interest are not an option. A commissioner needs to fully represent you and defend you on all roll call votes.
The following is a synopsis of a follow-up interview in The Observer offices:
Alan Burton said James Stowers’ 19 abstentions from roll call votes amounts to a failure to do his job.
“When you’re elected, Burton said, “you’re elected, actually, to do a job.”
One of the most important issues for Burton has been the millage rate, and the fact it was recently raised.
“Increasing the millage rate … does not make good economic sense, he said. “From the homeowner, the property owner, or the business owner, when they get their tax bill and they see the millage rate go up, and they see the amount of taxes go up … that’s an increase to me. … If you’re going to raise the millage rate, have the courage to say ‘I’m raising your taxes,’ period.”
Burton also said permitting fees “adversely” affect “upfront costs” of small businesses.
He said a solution to the city’s pension issue may come from rethinking the system.
“You need to take a look at benefits on a cash basis,” Burton said. “Let the employee decide what’s best for them and their family.”
Burton said his leadership ability can be described as leading by example, and has resulted in successes.
“We were gold medal finalists,” Burton said of his time in the Leisure Services department, adding much of the credit also goes to his former staff. “(We were the) best park and recreation agency in the whole country.”
Burton said it was important for voters view him as someone with “a rich, robust experience in municipal government that has the breadth and width of services, financing, and serving people.
“My experience far outweighs anything he can offer for the year and a half that he’s been there. I have managed bonds, finances, budgeting. I know this budget in and out … It’s just not close.”