Port Orange Audit and Budget Advisory Board


from:  Ted Noftall          2:13 pm
The first meeting of the Port Orange Audit and Budget Advisory Board took place this week and the members of that board bestowed  the great honor of appointing me as its chairman.  I have every expectation that  this board will adequately discharge its mandated  duty which is to:  “advise  Council” on financial matters,  represent the  “people’s interest ”  and serve as an “informational resource”  on  auditing and budgeting matters. 
The financial disgraces of the last number of years  have strengthened citizen resolve to end the prior financial obfuscation that permitted those abuses.  I trust the  new Manager and CFO share our citizens desire for greater transparency and accountability, AND are  mindful  and committed to the wisdom contained in an old  adage attributed to Patrick Henry to the effect that   the liberties of the people will never be secure when the transactions of their rulers are concealed from them.
In  e-mails from past years you may remember that I reminded you of a quote from our 30th president to the effect that  collecting  more taxes than are absolutely required, and which do not beyond a reasonable doubt contribute to the public welfare is nothing more than legalized larceny. 
In those e-mails  I likened Port Orange’s prior budgets to legalized larceny because of the huge excess of Revenues (taxes raised ) over Actual Expenditures. The Sept 30th  2012 fiscal year which is only just now being reported on is no exception,  with  page 47 of the CAFR  reporting  an excess of $3 million dollars raised in property taxes over and above the expenditures required to run the city for that year.  The biggest single abuser in this fraud on taxpayers is the police budget which taxed citizens in excess of $600,000 over and above the actual monies spent to operate  the police department.
This kind of obfuscated budgeting must stop, AND WHAT MUST also stop  is the practice,  convenient to those who wish to raise more taxes than necessary,  of failing to carry forward the prior year’s surplus to the coming year.
If the prior Manager  wished to raise that $3 million excess in last year’s budget  he should have done so with transparent labeling stating its purpose, rather than understating expected revenues and overstating expected expenses.
This is an important point on which Council needs to have a clear understanding.  The budget process is designed to allocate taxes for designated purposes including establishing reserves or increasing reserves.  Deliberately understating expected revenues and overstating expected expenses,  and then calling that hoped for excess in whatever dollar number it arrives,  some goofy well intentioned name,  and then trust that excess  will be disbursed thoughtfully is  at best – circumventing the budget process,   AND FAR  too often those  excesses get spent on projects like the  Dock-To-Nowhere.
This A&B board got of to a torturous start and we  are very late in this year’s budget calendar and while this board may well be  asked to compromise in practice in some  instances  I hope it  will not be expected to do so in principle in any instance.
The auditing responsibilities of the A&B board will likely not be taken up for a month or two until this year’s budget is complete excepting only meeting with the  auditor conducting the payroll abuse investigation prior to that report being delivered to Council on July  16th  in keeping with Council’s earlier resolution that such meetings between auditors and the A&B board take place.
The  board would welcome any questions or suggestions you may have. Our meetings are open to the public and would welcome their participation.
Ted Noftall


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