Published On: Fri, Jul 20th, 2012

Stop the Whining…..Embrace the Opportunity

By: Al Zucaro

On July 10th, the City Council adjourned for the summer, not to meet again until late in August….an uneventful evening with only one significant vote taken supporting the manager’s recommendation to set the maximum millage rate for county purposes.

Within his projections, the manager allocates resources to cover the council’s priorities, to fund the projected $5 million dollar budget shortfall, and to balance the budget as required by law.

Two days later, the Sun Sentinel reported that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor “called out the state” in not granting the city’s $250,000 request for the security needs of the October presidential debate at Lynn University.

Let’s compare different reactions in different cities….

Tampa is hosting the Republican National Convention.  That city government views this as an opportunity.  The city and its chamber plan to take full advantage of the visiting dignitaries and the international exposure.  Meet and greets, city tours, cocktails parties, and on and on.  The point is that the city sees value, especially economic development value, in such a prominent event.

Boca Raton’s leadership, on the other hand, can only be heard whining about the disparate treatment demonstrated by the Governor’s veto of the city’s funding request.  Well truth be told, the reason for Governor Scott’s veto was a designation by Florida Taxwatch which tagged the funding request as a “turkey” with Boca Raton not having the political clout to overcome the designation.

So here we are….instead of taking full advantage of the global press, the visiting dignitaries and the tens of millions of viewers from around the world to whom we can tell the story about our city and its merits, the council is heard to only whine; to not be a full participant with the University; to not be an official sponsor; and to miss the economic development opportunities of the moment totally.

Apart from some politically themed events in the downtown that week being directed at our local community’s access to the debate, there is little indication that Boca Raton sees value like that being demonstrated in Tampa.

Also at the July 10th meeting, the Mayor brought up the topic of economic development, a collateral topic in the budget process.  The projected budget does not fund the Chamber’s $1 million dollars economic incentive request.  Councilwoman Scott voiced opposition to such funding and recognized that the council has already made available $5 million dollars from reserves in the event an opportunity needs to be incentivized.

So what could we do…

Well with security dollars allocated and the world watching, would it not be advantageous for Boca Raton to fully embrace the debate opportunity?

Take $50,000 from the reserve fund; become a named sponsor of the debate, develop an economic message and participate fully in the global exposure that this event will bring.  Projections are that 50 to 60 million people will view the debate.  Some of these are sure to be decision makers from companies that can then be targeted later.

A final comment…in like a lion, out like a lamb

Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility, over the last month or so, have brought forward challenging budgetary concerns but have offered no proposed solution.  They played on a fear factor but failed to convince the council to take any action.

An inconvenient truth to their argument is found in an internal city memo from Sharon McGuire to Leif Ahnell that states in part, the following:

“….For the past four years the City and the FOP and IAFF have negotiated contracts with benefit changes that have yielded savings to the City.  The approximate saving is a total of $3.6 million, $2.9 from IAFF and $750,000 from FOP.”

So ladies, the unions are acting fiscally responsible and have brought forward both solutions and savings.  Your rants offer nothing except a partial story with misleading facts and no articulated path to resolution.

Al Zucaro

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  1. Jim Wood says:

    Really good points. Another recent Tribune article indicates that “Boca Raton Ranks Second in the Nation as a Hotspot for Startup Companies.” I didn’t know this and I’m a 20 year resident of Boca. The City should be using the unique exposure opportunity of the Debate to promote advantages such as this.

  2. I have read many of Mr. Zucaro’s inaccurate accounts of what takes place at City Council meetings.
    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but the facts are the facts.
    I am a huge proponent of incentives. I have committed years to Economic Developement and attended the National Economic Development Council’s school for certification as an Economic Development Practitioner.
    I was not and I am not in favor or do I feel it is necessary to have a “designated line item” for business incentive funds.
    This however, does not mean I am not in favor of incentivizing businesses with dollars as we have done with every project brought forward since I have served as a Council person.
    I have voted to approve incentive dollars 100% of the time since being elected.
    So, Mr. Zucaro, get the facts straight.
    The facts are the facts.

  3. Bruce Martin says:

    “….For the past four years the City and the FOP and IAFF have negotiated contracts with benefit changes that have yielded savings to the City. The approximate saving is a total of $3.6 million, $2.9 from IAFF and $750,000 from FOP.”

    So ladies, the unions are acting fiscally responsible and have brought forward both solutions and savings.

    I did not realize the firefighters have given back so much to help the city. Why isn’t this information public knowledge?

  4. James Hesser says:

    Any one who follows these council meetings know that the Boca Raton Fiscal Responsibility ladies are pushing a polictical agenda. It is very funny though because they are the fiscal irresponsible group. Thanks for pointing this out to everyone. We love our police and firefighters. I would cut back the library before the fire or police departments.

  5. Al Zucaro says:

    I am not sure what Ms. Scott is complaining about. Her comment above confirms what I reported. That evening, on the public record, she stated she “was not” in favor of a designated line item. I commend and compliment her for taking such a reasoned position. AZ

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