All hail “King” Margaret!
We’ll explain in a minute.
At the August 16 meeting of Gateway’s Board of Supervisors, the fiscal year 2019 budget passed by 5-0 vote. Most homes in Gateway will see their assessments rise the previously announced $85.67 to $603.41 for the year. FY2019 runs from October 1, 2018 until September 30, 2019.
One candidate running for the board this November, Delores Linscott, took to social media and called for a “protest” of the FY2019 budget.
Nobody showed up to protest, but one man did ask a question that very much got our attention: he asked what was going on with the meter connection fees paid by developers.
In July 2017 we wrote an article titled “GSCDD asleep at the wheel for years; Untold millions gifted to housing developers” in which we outlined how Gateway’s $1,797 connection fee is so far below average that it may have been the largest financial blunder in the history of Gateway. (It’s now looking possible that the GSCDD set the $1,797 price when the district was under developer control. Yet another example of developers using the building out of Gateway to fill their own coffers.)
District Manager Chris Shoemaker said a study is underway as we speak, and the results should be known in 1-2 months. At that point, the board can (and almost assuredly will) raise the connection fees. The fact they’re doing something about it should be music to the community’s ears.
Another man asked about the status in the change of ownership of the ponds in Hampton Park. Shoemaker said that the GSCDD took over the ponds about two months ago.
Then Linscott took to the podium and told the board that the GSCDD’s math on the assessments cannot be correct, and that $517.74 plus $85.67 equals $602.74. Supervisor Ed Tinkle responded that it really is $603.41. Linscott thanked Tinkle.
Linscott then asked that since Gateway has $7 million in reserves, can’t that money be used to pay for things?
Tinkle responded that he intended to do just that. True to his word, later in the meeting Tinkle asked for $120,000 in reserves to be used for a hydraulics study in order for some adjustments to be made to Gateway’s weirs to help reduce flooding after large storm events.
According to Tinkle, the study isn’t actually necessary because the answers are already known, but the South Florida Water Management District would need the study done in order to satisfy their requirements before any changes can be made.
The Board of Supervisors accepted Tinkle’s request for the $120,000 study. That was the only change to “Version 3” of the FY19 budget, which as we previously mentioned passed by unanimous vote.
That was the high point of Tinkle’s day. The low came a few hours earlier when he was scolded by Supervisor Doug Banks and then Chairman Margaret Fineberg for being “disrespectful” toward Fineberg.
Tinkle had explained to the board that he had explored the possibility of the district obtaining a 20-year loan to pay for the community-wide sewer clean out.
Fineberg asked Tinkle, “And whose authority did you do all this work?”
Tinkle shot back: “I don’t think I need any authority. I’m a resident, I’m a citizen. I can do what want to do.”
Fineberg: “Ed, we’re a five member board!”
Tinkle responded by pointing out that Fineberg went to an engineering meeting on her own without the board approving it. Fineberg, getting angry, shouted “Actually we did!”.
Fineberg was trying to explain to Tinkle what had transpired when Tinkle said “I’m sorry, King. Or Queen. But I didn’t see that.”
That’s when Banks and Fineberg called Tinkle disrespectful.
I don’t really feel like digging it up, so take this as unverified – but if my memory serves me, Tinkle wanted to attend a key engineering meeting but Fineberg pulled rank and declared she would be attending the meeting instead of Tinkle.
So I believe Tinkle is right (if I’m remembering correctly). King Fineberg did simply announce to the board that she would attend the meeting, not Tinkle, and there really wasn’t much (or any) discussion. It was just “I’m going and that’s that” from Fineberg.
Anyway, the good news is that Gateway has an approved budget for FY2019.
Slowly but surely, year after year, the Board of Supervisors is nudging the assessment rates in Gateway to acceptable levels.
We’ll have to see how this year goes and what all transpires, but it does finally feel like the GSCDD is at least approaching the funding levels they need to take care of their responsibilities.
Obviously it’s too early to tell right now if another 15% or so increase will be needed for FY2020. But the reality is that the current Supervisors and staff are tackling decades of neglect from previous boards, and unfortunately that takes money.
Even though we have a negative view of some individual Supervisors, we give the entire board credit for having the courage to take on the problems the community faces. Passing the the FY2019 budget was yet another step in the right direction.