Monday, September 16, 2013

Brevard County Commission Might Cede Spending Powers To Manager



VIERA, Florida -- On the Brevard County Commission September 17, 2013 Meeting Agenda is a proposal that could delegate broad spending powers to Brevard County Manager Howard Tipton and his office.


According to documents filed with the County for Consent Agenda Item III.C.2, the County Commission is requested by the County Manager to correct a "scrivener's error" that would grant the County Manager broad financing discretion without having to return to the Commission for permission or notice of public hearing.  The request reads, in part, as follows:


At the April 2, 2013 Board meeting. the Board of County Commissioners approved the 2013 modifications to the Budget and Financial Policy (BCC #21). However, due to a scrivener's error, a change that had been approved by the Board on July 10, 2012, was inadvertently omitted from the document approved in April, 2013. The attached marked-up policy highlights the omitted sentence: 

Section III.H.2 - restores the following sentence, "The County Manager may authorize the use of reserve funds for projects approved by the Board of County Commissioners within its Capital Improvement Plan."


Brevard Times was the only news source to raise the issue of over $1 million of a proposed increase to the Solid Waste Department's budget recommended in July by the County Manager that consisted of an extra $338,000 in Recycling Operating Reserves and $755,000 in Disposal Operating Reserves when compared to last Fiscal Year.


The other broad discretions afforded to the County Manager's office in the document titled "Policy Number BCC-21" before the Commission are as follows:


G...
3. Provide that the County Manager or designee may approve intrafund transfers, interfund transfers and line item changes that do not exceed $100,000.
4. Provide that the Deputy County Manager or designee may approve intrafund transfers, interfund transfers and line item changes that do not exceed $75,000.
5. Provide that the Assistant County Manager or designee may approve intrafund transfers, interfund transfers and line item changes that do not exceed $50,000.
6. Provide that the Budget Director or designee may approve intrafund transfers, interfund transfers and line item changes that do not exceed $25,000.

H. Reserve Accounts.
I. Reserve accounts will be established to provide the following:
a. Funding for authorized mid-year increases to adopted levels of service. 
b. Funding for unexpected increases in the cost of providing existing levels of service. 
c. Temporary and non-recurring funding for unexpected projects. 
d. Funding of a local match for public or private grants. 
e. Funding to offset losses in revenue caused by actions of other governmental bodies. 
f. Funding to accommodate unexpected program changes and mandates from other governmental bodies.
2. Requests for use of funds from reserve accounts must be approved by the Board of County Commissioners. The County Manager may authorize the use of reserve funds for projects approved by the Board of County Commissioners within its Capital Improvement Plan.




"I’m not sure what this is as of course we were not notified.  I have already written to the Board to explain to them we will not pay for any item over $100,000 without a SPECIFIC vote of the Board," Brevard Clerk of Court Scott Ellis said in response to this article.  "Our letter was triggered by the ladder trucks and large construction projects being signed off without specific Board approval."


"Voting on a five year Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) is meaningless," Ellis added.  "The plans change all the time, they are just that, a plan.  Most CIPs have more projects than money, simply accepting a CIP is no substitute for voting on individual items above $100,000, as is Board policy."


UPDATE: The Agenda passed 4 to 1 with Commissioner Trudie Infantini voting no.