The meeting was called to order at 11:10 a.m. by President Pio Ieraci.
Board Members present: Ieraci, Berkowitz, Glickfield, Guttman, Hamaker, Songer, McBride, Abramowitz, Alfano, Bazerghi, Bindler, Freismuth, Glazer, Gonzalez, Guglielmetti, Hébert, Mayer, Milller, Oppert, Orr, Pohan, Rainey, Roschi, Rubino, Santiago, Vanek and Weck.
Approval of Minutes - The minutes of December 18, 2008 were approved.
Update – Old and New Business
The President introduced Jack Seiler, a candidate for Mayor of Fort Lauderdale in the February 10th municipal primary. Also introduced was Michael Weber of Il Lugano’s Restaurant.
Representatives of the Cooperative Feeding Program, Executive Director Scott Woodburn and Board member Dominick Faro, shared information about their program and the upcoming annual Galt Mile Food Drive planned for March by participating members of the Galt Mile Community Association. Their program desperately needs food and money. Exacerbated by the economic downturn, one out of four people in Broward County go hungry every day. Last year’s Galt Mile food drive yielded 12,000 pounds of donated food.
The President introduced Fort Lauderdale’s District 1 City Commissioner Christine Teel. She reported that the latest shipwreck on our beach was promptly dispensed with.
The President introduced Fort Lauderdale City Manager George Gretsas and David Hébert, Fort Lauderdale Assistant City Manager, Public Safety and Emergency Management. Mr. Gretsas made a PowerPoint presentation addressing the following subjects:
Finances: the City’s Reserve Fund balance rose from $875,000 in 2003 to $78 million in 2008, the largest fund balance in City history. The insurance fund has increased from a $20.6 million deficit in 2003 to a $10 million surplus in 2008. The City’s 2003 negative bond ratings have improved to the currently favorable Standard and Poor’s AA rating and Moody’s Aa2 rating.
Education: There is a strong emphasis on new SAT format.
Taxes: A review of the highest tax rates in Broward County revealed that Fort Lauderdale’s millage rate is 22nd out of 31 municipalities.
He explained how future pension fund growth for police and fire department personnel will burden taxpayers; pension reform is needed.
Crime: Police and Fire-Rescue response time has improved.
Proactive Code Enforcement has expedited the removal of graffiti and illegally dumped refuse. A new noise ordinance is resulting in more effective enforcement. Another new ordinance imposed aesthetic standards for newspaper boxes. Many new beach improvements were implemented.
“The Vision” expressed by residents contributing to a cohesive Master Plan for the City includes: creating a World Class Downtown, making the New River a showplace, energizing the Riverwalk area, establishing a 21st Century rail system, creating a 5-star beach, securing our place as a boating capitol, protecting and improving neighborhoods, enhancing important corridors (Galt Mile, North Federal Highway, etc.), maintaining a Premier Park System, modernizing the City infrastructure, rebuilding fire stations, police stations and city hall.
General Rule of Government = For Every Problem There Is A Solution
Commission Teel thanked Mr. Gretsas for implementing the successful organizational reforms recommended in the Safir/Rosetti study that he commissioned, significantly reducing the crime rate by more effectively using existing personnel as opposed to hiring more officers.
Pio passed around photos of various landscaping and hardscape deficits along the Mile (trees, benches, etc.), underwriting the need to address this neglect with the City.
The Beach renourishment project, which is now scheduled for 2010, is always frozen during turtle nesting season. Pio stated that the sand bypass project proposed for the south county beaches has nothing to do with our beach renourishment. Segment II permitting delays continue to plague the Fort Lauderdale renourishment. Commissioners Teel and Keechl have written letters to elicit reasons for these frustrating delays. A discussion followed that considered whether rallying community activism and/or further investigating the delays would be more productive. Pio will call Ken Keechl to assist with placing us on the County Commission meeting agenda.
Bob Wolfe of the Broward County Property Appraiser’s office reminded us that he is available to answer questions about homestead, senior and other exemptions at the Beach Community Center on the third Friday of the month from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
Treasurer’s Report - Leah Glickfield
The Treasurer reported $13,027.58 in our Treasury.
Next Advisory Board Meeting - The next regular Advisory Board Meeting will be held on Thursday, February 19, 2009 at Nick’s Italian Restaurant.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:35 p.m.
Fern McBride, Secretary