Residents Speak Out Against Tax Increase at Coral Springs Budget Hearing

By: Sharon Aron Baron

As he stood in front of the Coral Springs city commission, resident Lance Rachbind said that raising taxes “Doesn’t make our lives better, it makes our lives harder.”

Rachbind was just one of several hundred residents who attended the First Public Budget Hearing on September 19, after either reading about the proposed increases or receiving their TRIM notices in the mail. Because the commission chambers wasn’t large enough to hold the crowd, the city opened up two auxiliary rooms at city hall which had a live video feed.

The city initially proposed increasing the millage 1.25 mills or 26 percent, however, this didn’t take into account the increase in property values which already gives the city more tax revenue without any changes.  Residents who spoke said that their rates would be increasing from 26 to 40 percent.

Commissioner Larry Vignola said there was a lot of misinformation out there and Mayor Skip Campbell agreed calling what people were reading as “fake news.” But the increases were confirmed by Catherine Givens, Director of Budget and Strategy where she went over the budget and millage rate increases in her presentation along with proposed increases in debt, fire and solid waste assessments.

The TRIM notices brought to the commission meeting weren’t fake to the home and business owners who pleaded with the commission that the hundreds and thousands in increased taxes would be too much to bear.

Rita Bewry, a 15 year resident of Coral Springs said her taxes went up $500 along with her property insurance increasing $500.  As a 75-year-old, moving away wasn’t an option.

“We expect the government, the people we elect, to protect us, to look out for our best interests, not to burden us. I beg of you to please think about what you’re doing.”

Richard Malone said that his tax increase would be 30 percent higher than the prior year and that Coral Springs was the only ad valorem entity in the county is taxing him more than three percent.

“You have not enlightened the basic public until tonight with any of the details, concrete information or the need for such an exorbitant increase in the millage rate,” he said.

Nancy Lawrence said she saw the notice in the mail and was alarmed by the increase in her taxes.  She said she understood that to maintain the quality of the city they would have to pay certain costs, but she objected to the hike.

“I understand you say you’re going to do what’s best for the city, but you hear everyone here. This is not what the homeowner’s want. We’d rather see a gradual increase.  We know it’s possible and we’re asking you to listen to what we’re saying.”

Former Commissioner Tom Powers said that it was the easiest vote they had all year and was already decided by the people last year during the penny tax vote.

“They didn’t want not only the penny tax, they didn’t want the half-penny tax,” said Powers.  “Your job is simple. You gotta listen to what the people say.” 

Powers asked the commission to concentrate on economic development. 

“That’s where the growth comes and that’s where the revenue comes from. The public has been very clear – it’s not to come from taxes. It’s to come from growth.”

Mayor Skip Campbell, who stressed that the vote had to be a unanimous 5-0 to pass,  said that he was against the 1.25 mill increase and told staff that there were ways that they could cut some of their expenses.  He also suggested that they should increase the millage rate on a two-year basis. He suggested a .75 millage rate increase, however, it would need to be adjusted due to the unexpected costs for the recent hurricane cleanup which was estimated to cost $13 million.

Campbell touched briefly on staff cuts and said the city looked at zero based budgeting for city hall – where all expenses are justified during a period of time,  however, they only performed this in one department:  human resources, where they discovered every job was necessary and there was no ‘fat’.  He said that the city intended to do it again this year with another department.

“There are a lot of citizens in Coral Springs. I think we can still make this a premier city with what we have…but I think we need to cut back on some of these proposals,” said Campbell, referring to the increases in the budget. He stressed that in order to be fiscally responsible, there had to be some sort of tax increase, however,  he was against 1.25 mill increase..

City Manager Mike Goodrum wanted the commission to be aware that they wouldn’t be able to do the enhancements and investments in the community that they planned for.  He said with a rate of .75 the city would only be maintaining their current level of decline. 

“Currently, the city is deferring maintenance on many items and will continue to defer maintenance,” said Goodrum.  “You will not see enhancements in the community. I’m confident we will maintain where the city is now… any thoughts of the mediums looking better, the parks looking better –  those things – we won’t be able to make that commitment.”

Campbell changed his figure from .75 and said he would be willing to support a 1 percent millage rate which would be a 21 percent increase in taxes.

“I could tell you that I could live with 1 [percent],” he said.

“If the commission sets it at 1 [percent], I am confident we can come back essentially next week with a budget that does make an investment in the community and we can work towards that,” said Goodrum.

Vignola wanted a list of all improvements proposed so the commission could decide, and the public could see what they would be hand-choosing.

To absorb some of the improvements, Campbell also suggested a general obligation bond so residents could vote on future improvements to the city as well.

Commissioner Lou Cimaglia made a motion to move forward with 1 percent, seconded by Vignola and everyone voted yes, except Vice Mayor Dan Daley.

Daley wanted to discuss it first.  Daley stressed that Coral Springs had the lowest millage rate for a city of its size but said it also translated to being the cheapest place to live. He was concerned that they were picking a number out of the sky as long as it was below 1.25 percent without the numbers and the projects in front of them. He wanted the opportunity to have some wiggle room.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t seriously speak up right now and ask if there was a middle ground to be had.”

He said if the city manager came back next week and said 1 percent was fine and it covered the projects needed, but if it didn’t, he would be apprehensive about being in that position.  He asked the mayor to meet him somewhere in the middle. 

“I’m just asking for the opportunity to partner on this, meet me in the middle, and you know what?  We may just go for 1 [percent] next week. No problem.  But let’s do this based on serious numbers and serious recommendations.”

Campbell believed that 1 percent was the appropriate number to keep the city at the current service level.

“Let’s say we could get everything we need. Not want, need. But we could only get it at 1.1 or 1.15 or whatever that number actually is,” said Daley. 

Daley made a motion to set the millage rate at 1.15 percent which was seconded by Vignola. 

The commission is now waiting for updated numbers to fit in the budget which will be finalized at the Second Public Budget Hearing on September 27 at 6:00 p.m.

About Sharon Aron Baron

Sharon Aron Baron Sharon Aron Baron is the Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs, Parkland and the rest of South Florida.

Connect

Follow on Twitter Connect on Facebook Find on Google+ View all Posts
  • yongo

    Daley and Vignola continue to show Their contempt for the residents of coral springs. They continue to tell the residents what they want not what the residents want. They are hell bent on raising taxes no matter the hardships that will be incurred by the residents. Recall these two and the city will go back to normal times a great place to live without being a victim of stupidity.
    Start the recall the people will sign it.

  • yongo

    Residents of coral springs , be strong in your convictions don’t be bullied or black mailed by these politicians. Show up at the next meeting, we need more residents to be at the next meeting may we can get a thousand. Lets hope they change the venue and not inconvenience the residents more than they already have.

  • yongo

    I would love to hear from the Daley, Vignola backers now that they have proved everything I said over the last month is true. Two very bad guys. Anyone who has lived in this city for ten years or more know that the city was a nice place to live had some disagreements but never never of the magnitude of the problems brought by these two guys.

    • Barb

      I still don’t get your hatred of just these two. All the commissioners would have voted for a !% on the millage rate, Daley wanted to make sure they could do it numbers wise, so they all agreed to wait and put 1.15 as a fail safe. You have a new city manager and a new budget manager who are the ones pushing this as you must have heard at the meeting. This is a town run by the City Manager, the commissioners just put their two cents in, it is the City Manager who runs the city. Facts are facts they are ALL willing to raise our taxes by 20%. And I got loud and clear that this would not be the only time.

    • dontvoteforbums

      I’ve lived in the city for ten years or more and I can concur with your observation. I’ve witnessed the deceit, lies, bigotry and corruption in City Hall. It all seemed to start with the City Hall Massacre that occurred shortly after Commissioner Powers returned from his Sunshine Law trial. He got his personal picks to replace the City Manager, City Attorney. and Police Chief. I read that it was some type of retaliation for the Police Chief and City Manger having him arrested and charged for the Sunshine Law violation that they say occurred when Tom Powers met with Coral Springs Cops Michael Hughes and Chris Swinson at Brus Room in Coconut Creek. They probably met in Coconut Creek to avoid the jurisdiction that ends at the City Line. That seems to hint that they knew the meeting was wrong. Well, that’s when I first noticed the cesspool of corruption coming from the City Managers Office, the City Attorneys Office, and on and on. In my opinion, it was clear bigotry, racism and self dealings for the Commissioners and City Hall. Self preservation, self dealings and total disregard for the welfare of the residents. This seemed to be instigated by Commissioner Powers. So, yes, it’s changed for the worse and it won’t improve until the new City Manager drains the swamp and starts insisting on putting residents first, not City Hall. Maybe get rid of that City Attorney whose only job seems to be telling the City Manager, the City employees and the Commissioners on how to get more for themselves while they ignore the needs of the residents. Look at the ridicules salaries and benefits they pay themselves as they essentially spit and ignore those that live here and then you’ll understand why they demand more of our money. So, yes, ten years is about right. It went downhill when Commissioner Powers started dictating orders. That’s why he should never, ever be voted into another public office.

  • Barb

    So I am pretty sure I said this was how it was going to go. Everyone shows up, they throw us a bone thinking lowering it to 21% instead of 26% would make us all happy. Not acceptable. Too bad, they don’t get more police or firefighters or someone to run events. Too bad if they don’t get roads paved all in one year. How about we take away all the perks everyone has, cars, expense accounts etc., Lets stop spending money sending staff to competitions, we don’t care who can go around barrels on motorcycles better than another town. We don’t care about flags, signs, entryways, cobblestone roads. There is so much waste in this city it isn’t even funny. And please don’t buy the hurricane money, that is what the money in reserves is for until they get it back from FEMA.

    • Yongo

      How about we freeze all spending and salaries cut staff by ten per cent except police and after that claw back the outrageous pay increasese given by the previous city manager before he quit leaving the city in very good shape as he he stated. Those making fifty thousand and under should be exempt from this claw back.

  • guest

    I completely agree! I didn’t know that Dan Daley didn’t own a home so wouldn’t be paying these outrageous taxes. I do know that he will NEVER be reelected. He is completely out of touch with the residents of Coral Springs and we will all remember that when election time rolls around!

  • guest

    Lance, You are right about Vice Mayor Daley and Commissioner Vignola. They are not fiscally responsible and just want to spend as much money as they can — OUR money! I just hope everyone remembers that they are not interested in representing us because they don’t deserve to be re-elected! Everyone should email them between now and the meeting next week and let them know we won’t forget what they are doing when election time rolls around! Their email addresses are on the Coral Springs Government.com site.

  • guest

    Great idea, Luis. I’ve already sent emails to them. A couple of them have even responded. They need to know we are ALL united by sending these emails and attending the budget hearing next week. Large numbers speak volumes and, although they say they don’t care if they are re-elected, I don’t believe that for a minute!

    • Yongo

      Don’t believe anything Dan Daly says he has proven that hundreds of times remember what they call him around city hall

      • guest

        Ok, I’ll bite. What do they call Dan Daley around city hall? Btw, he responded to my email by saying they all voted for an increase — not just him, hoping to share the blame like some teenager might do! However, in his email to me, he neglected to mention that he wanted a LARGER increase than all of the others and convinced Commissioner Vignola to second his motion. It might have taken little convincing, however, because Vignola seems just as determined to raise the tax rate significantly. I told Dan Daley this in a follow-up email and also told him that I heard he doesn’t even own property in Coral Springs. I told him that I looked on the Broward County Property Appraisal Website and I couldn’t locate any property or home that he owns in Coral Springs. He did not respond so that tells me everything I need to know. So, he wants the largest increase in the tax rate and this rate won’t affect him, personally, in any way! How did he ever get the job of Vice Mayor? He doesn’t care about the residents and only wants to spend OUR money–not his! Believe me, he won’t be voted into City government during the next election cycle as all of us will NOT forget what he is doing to us!

        • I covered the meeting and I want to set the record straight that the vice mayor did not convince Commissioner Vignola to second the motion. Vignola did this on his own accord.

          • guest

            Thanks CoralSpringsTalk for clarifying this fact. Now I realize that, when Daley and Vignola were whispering to each other throughout the public meeting, they were only agreeing to disregard everything we residents had to say. Both of them don’t have a clue or even care about the residents of Coral Springs. We MUST vote them out!!! Please, please go to the public meeting next week so we can show solidarity and, hopefully, convince the Mayor to approve even a LOWER rate increase than 1.0 mil. As I see it, Mayor Campbell is our only hope! I could be wrong but Joy Carter seems like she doesn’t want to make waves (calling herself a newbie) so she, unfortunately, will probably just go along with Daley and Vignola. And Lou Cimaglia … there are no words!

          • yongo

            Whispers probably were the making of a deal Vignola desperately wants to be vice mayor and Daley wants to be mayor.a deal made in heaven. More staff more pay increases and of course more votes. As they say only the taxpayers lose.

          • guest

            Being present at last night’s final public budget meeting (my second meeting ever at the City) and watching Commissioner Vignola’s performance, I saw first hand that he is a grandstander, only cares about himself, and was totally on his own against the Mayor and the other Commissioners. Because of him, alone, we were there until almost 10pm last night. He wanted a HIGHER tax rate than all of the others and just kept trying to find ways to talk everyone else into it. When that didn’t work and even his buddy, Commissioner Daley, deserted him, he talked about his 5-year old daughter who he had to bench because of some small imperfection on the soccer field. He said his daughter certainly wasn’t a “bench” player but he felt he had to do it. Is he kidding? What 5 year old is or isn’t a bench player? They should all equally play at that age — unless they have a really bad coach! He just wanted more money spent on the many, many parks we already have. He tried every way possible to raise the rate even more — even asking for breaks trying to convince the Budget Manager and City Manager to support him. When they didn’t support him AND no one else did, he finally had to give in to logic — but didn’t like it at all. We DO NOT want him anywhere near City Government in the future. He is all about himself and his own needs, isn’t interested in compromising as we saw first hand and, as a result, certainly isn’t interested in serving the needs of our residents! When the next election is held, we need to reinforce this with the voters. I, personally, have NEVER seen such solo grandstanding in my entire life — not even by a child!

          • yongo

            100 per cent right. This guy has been talking about his family for years trying to convince every one that he and his families wants are all that maters. We have a great park system and it has nothing to do with him. To prop up a 5 year old is wrong.
            His accomplishment as a commissioner are zero and the proof of that is where we are at present. We did not have these problems before his arrival on the commission. Everyone who knows him has his number bad for the city and arrogant. Not capable to handle the daily decisions that have to be made by a commissioner. He should resign and do the entire citizen body a great favor and help restore our city back to what it was before his arrival. His decision making should be what color to paint a car and nothing more.

  • Chadbrochills

    Ahh, good ‘ole Vignola. I played baseball with him when we were on the Blockbuster team back in the ’90’s, coached by John Cody. He was an ass back then from what I remember and apparently still is. So glad I don’t live in CS anymore because of crap like this.

    • Yongo

      Agreed however you omitted adding dumb to your description of

    • guest

      You know, that doesn’t surprise me … after watching him in action at the last public budget hearing!

  • Government waste

    Tell all your friends and neighbors to come to the next commission meeting and let them have an earful.
    The last city manager was praised up and down and received some very nice raises. Watch for them to throw him under the bus.

    • Barb

      You have to come with things you think they should cut, just saying it’s too much does not work. How about the 911 system that we are too good to join, bet that would cut a big chunk, they have had plenty of time to realize the county one works just fine. Instead of hiring a whole bunch of full time employees why not a bunch of part time where benefits wouldn’t have to be paid. Charging for all these outdoor events would bring in additional dollars. Getting rid of charter school would be a plus all around, Schools are no longer overcrowded and those kids would be back in our neighborhood schools which would improve them. If you really think about it, thats when the schools started to go downhill.

  • Nancy Escobar

    We just moved to Coral Springs and I went to the budget meeting on the 19th. Prior to the meeting, I printed fliers that announced the meeting and proposed increase. I spent two weeks handing out fliers at the library, in my neighborhood, at the parks, and the businesses at The Walk. Most people had no idea a tax increase was proposed. I was thrilled when close to 150 people showed up. I thought for sure the commissioners would vote “no.” Without knowing their history, I was shocked at their lack of concern for the residents. I sent emails to all of them and surprisingly the mayor called me. We had a long talk. He is a smooth talker. He said he doesn’t want the increase, but he has to do it. Joy Carter responded with a long-winded list of justifications, and Daley simply stated he is going to vote for an increase. We have to unite and make sure the mayor, the vice mayor, and seat 4 are voted out of office November 2018.

  • dontvoteforbums

    You’re correct, Tom Powers is the reason we’re having a tax increase. When Tom Powers was elected, it seems like City Hall started to become a cesspool of corruption,catering only to special interest.. Tom Powers continuously stated the new City Hall was paid for before it was even built. He said the money was already there. He lied as usual. Remember when we had to pay nearly sixty thousand dollars for his defense when he was arrested and charged with a violation of the Sunshine Act? . His stupidity and his support of special interest will continue to tax us long into the future. It’s my opinion that former commissioner Powers is a deceitful liar, a bigot and may very well be a racist. When given an opportunity to choose honesty, integrity, ethical values and support for the residents, he chose deceit, lies and corruption. He simply can’t be trusted. Stay tuned! I bet he’s going to try to get the FOP to drop the Grand Theft charges against his Sunshine Law drinking buddy Michael Hughes. Can anyone guess why he might owe Michael Hughes a big favor? Do some research. If the FOP drops the charges, then we’ll have to pay his drinking buddy Hughes back pay of over a quarter of a million dollars in taxpayer money. Just another reason to raise our taxes and another reason to make sure Tom Powers is never voted into any public office ever again.

  • dontvoteforbums

    yongo…please be aware of the censorship on this site.,.this is a message I recently sent to Howard: Howard, I’ve watched Coral Springs politics for decades, conversed with
    many of the City employees and I agree with your assessments and much of
    what a person name yongo has posted. The problems leading to the
    current tax increase are directly related to the actions of Tom Powers
    when he fist became a Commissioner. Last night, I posted details in
    several separate post I told it just as I personally observed it first
    hand…and..then…CORAL SPRINGS TALK DELETED ALL OF MY POST. EACH AND
    EVERY ONE OF THEM, including the one that links Tom Powers to Micheal
    Hughes, Tom Powers Sunshine Law arrest and explained why, because of Tom
    Powers, we may be forced to pay Hughes over a quarter of a million
    dollars in back pay, further increasing our taxes. So, there appears to
    be heavy censorship of opinions that are critical of Tom Powers and the
    events that followed his City Hall Massacre that occurred when he
    forced out Mike Levinson, the City Manager and several others. PLEASE
    BE AWARE THAT THESE POST ARE HEAVILY CENSORED and residents will never
    truly understand, confront or control the current situation if they
    aren’t aware of the past. Coral Springs Talk may be supporting Tom
    Powers, a person that in my opinion is personally responsible for many
    of the Cities current problems.

    • Please be aware that these posts are not heavily censored and your posts were never deleted, they were just in queue for moderation. Be patient.

      • Jorge

        Excellent excuse!!!! How long to wait,….

  • dont vote for bums

    Howard, I’ve watched Coral Springs politics for decades, conversed with many of the City employees and I agree with your assessments and much of what a person name yongo has posted. The problems leading to the current tax increase are directly related to the actions of Tom Powers when he first became a Commissioner. I posted details in several separate post I told it just as I personally observed it first hand…and..then…Coral Springs Talk deleted ALL of my post including the one that links Tom Powers to Micheal Hughes, Tom Powers Sunshine Law arrest and explained why, because of Tom Powers, we may be forced to pay Hughes over a quarter of a million dollars in back pay, further increasing our taxes. So, there appears to be heavy censorship of opinions that are critical of Tom Powers and the events that followed his City Hall Massacre that occurred after he forced out Mike Levinson City Manager and several others. Please be aware that these post are heavily censured and residents will never truly understand or confront the current situation if they aren’t aware of the past. Coral Springs Talk may be supporting Tom Powers, a person that in my opinion is personally responsible for many of the Cities current problems.

  • yongo

    I hope some of you read yesterdays sun sentinel maybe now you can determine who is pushing for the large tax increase. Daley and Vignola don’t care what the citizens want they continue to tell the citizens what they want and at any cost. Bad for the city and arrogant behavior. Start the recall get Daley out and Vignola will drop like a dead weed. The mayor has some understanding on what’s happening and the other two are on a string and will follow wherever their led. Lets also find out who postponed the improvement projects who approved it and fire them. Get the city out of the school business, freeze the salaries and spending for one year reorganize city managers office change deputy managers title to assistant managers and find a qualified individual, one who can fill in for the manager or replace him if need be to be deputy manager. The previous city manager along with the two deputy managers who were not qualified to replace him when he quit and ran . All together party responsible for the condition where in received salary and perks totaling a half a million dollars a year. We didn’t get what we paid for. Along with this we had a commission that didn’t have a clue on how to run a city. Start the recall get Daley out .

  • proudtaxpayer

    Stop your whining folks. It takes money to run a city and that money comes from property taxes. If you can’t afford to pay the taxes it takes to run the city then you shouldn’t be living here. I want my neighbors to make enough money to pay their taxes and keep up their homes. If they can’t afford to drive a decent car, keep up their home, hire a landscaper, pool cleaner, roof cleaner, exterminator and pay their property taxes then they should get out of Coral Springs, they don’t belong here. When we have high paid people in city hall then we’ll also have high property taxes and we also need high income neighbors that can afford to pay those taxes. That results in an upper class city. The city leaders have made it clear that they don’t want old people and the downtrodden living in Coral Springs and using up our city resources. The police and city workers target the elderly, the downtrodden and the minorities that can’t afford to live in the city. They target them because it results in an upper class city that doesn’t have people begging on street corners, sleeping on park benches, drinking booze in an alley, rioting in the streets, looting and shooting at cops. The city leaders believe that low income, low life people should live somewhere else, not next to the high income people in Coral Springs. Higher property taxes, strict code enforcement, and aggressive police tactics are helping to drive the elderly, those on medicare, those on medicaid, those with lower income and those other deplorables out of the city. It seems to be working. When we think a normal couple is suspicious or undesirable, we can just make a call and make a difference so that twelve cops will rush in ready to intimidate the suspicious couple, beat them into the ground and run them out of the city. When black guys fight with white guys, we make a call and cars full of cops rush in and haul the black guys away. When our cops use their license plate readers, they know if the driver is an outsider, so they can find a reason to stop him and check him out or chase him if he decides to run. If the driver is a woman, they can find an excuse to stop her and maybe get her to step out of the car so they can check her out too. We need cops running those license plate readers and that cost money. We need extra police to let certain people know that they’re not welcome in Coral Springs More of these good cops are needed to clean up the city and watch over us and more of them are included the new budget. We all owe this successful clean up campaign and our new budget to our fine former city manager and his deputy city managers. The commissioner were so thrilled with the city clean up that they gave the former city manager a key to the city and paid his health insurance until the end of the year, all at taxpayers expense. The new guy, needs to continue along the same path to clean up the city and impress the commissioners and when that’s done, most of the whiners will be living in a less desirable city. The property taxes are deductible on a federal tax return, so nearly everyone will be paying only a small fraction of the tax increase. If all of you whiners were seriously concerned about taxes, you’d show up a city commission meeting and protest instead just whining. Hollywood people got street names changed because they made some noise instead of just whining. NFL players made a statement by taking a knee during the National Anthem, not by standing around whining. Here in Coral Springs we get a bunch of low life whiners acting like little crybabies because they realize they can’t afford to live in Coral Springs and then they want to blame it on the city taxes instead of blaming their own lack of income. Prices are going up. It’s always been that way. We need city services, so stop whining people, accept the higher taxes and pay them or get out of Dodge.