Does The City Have a Dismal Landscape Maintenance Program & Onion Type Budget?

Ted Noftall
8:38 PM
to Bob, Dennis, don, Drew, Mayor, Greg
Thanks to you and your staff for their efforts  which I believe stemmed out of my  12/16/2013  &  11/27/2013 e-mails below.
The stated  purpose of those e-mails was twofold:

  • *)  to see if declining  budget/actual  expenditures  for  Irrigation, Fertilizer and Pesticide  would either confirm or refute Tuff Turfs allegation that unwise cutbacks to all three were responsible in large measure for the poor appearance of the medians.
  • *)  to provide Council with actual line expenditures including expenditures for  Irrigation, Fertilizer and Pesticide so as to allow them to discuss in other than sound bites what they understand;  to have been past expenditures when the medians appearance was acceptable  and,  current expenditures now that they are not.

The good news is that the  un-signed commentary you provided  grudgingly concedes  Tuff Turfs allegation  regarding  Irrigation, Fertilizer and Pesticide  to a sufficient degree such that  the treatment Tuff Turf  received leading up to their resignation should  be reevaluated by other than Public Works.
The bad news is that  the budget/actual numbers you have provided detail nothing beyond ‘mowing contract costs’   AND  as such provide zero assistance in  understanding what they was being spent on  Irrigation, Fertilizer and Pesticide  or any other line item when the medians were acceptable, Nor what is being spent now that they are not.
Councilman Ford was correct in his fundamental likening of a  budget to the multi layers of an onion with the ability of a budget so developed to allow for drilling down in sufficient detail to arrive at budgeted cost of the proverbial paper clip.
But budgets are not developed in that fashion in Port Orange and do not allow themselves to the drill down required to answer the questions posed above as demonstrated by your staffs inability to do so in whatever time they spent  trying.
At this point I certainly am not requesting that your staff waste more time trying to find what is not there.
I would however request that  you commit to an open and honest line item budget development process starting next month for FY 2015,  and ditch  the ‘program model’ budgeting  of the former administration that made a mockery of the notion that Council had any specific knowledge of what they were agreeing to when they ‘approved’ the budget,  AND which was far too susceptible  to charging taxpayers more that what was required to run a department.
Good luck figuring the correct ‘minimum’ number of dollars the City needs to spend annually to return the medians  to an acceptable appearance.
Ted Noftall

—–Original Message—–
From: Kisela, Greg []
Sent: Friday, December 27, 2013 3:01 PM
To: Ted Noftall
Cc: Anderson, Mary; Saunders, Wayne; Lovallo, Susan; Lewis, Shannon; City Council
Subject: FW: Landscape Contract Questions
See Budget vs. Actual numbers for the Public Works budgets from FY 2006 to FY 2013.  These accounts are for the outside vendor mowing contracts.  As you can see the City spent a high of $772K in FY 2010 to a low of $414K in FY 2012.   I understand that  starting in FY 2007 changes were made in the scope of the contracts.  For example,  the City pulled out from the contracts applying pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.  In addition, I understand at one point the City maintained Clyde Morris and North Williamson and turned those corridors back over to Volusia County thus eliminating these areas from the contracts..  The City also added the cost of maintaining the Town Center CRA to the general fund in FY 2013.  Lastly, the frequency of mowing changed over time.  In some areas it increased and in other areas it decreased.
After you have reviewed the material please advise if you have any additional questions.
Greg Kisela
City Manager

From: Ted Noftall []
Sent: Monday, December 16, 2013 11:34 AM
To: ‘Kisela, Greg’
Cc: Patrick Nelan (
Subject: RE: Dunlawton Ave Landscape Maintenance
To piggy-back on what Pat is requesting when do you believe we will get a comprehensive  answer to the e-mails reproduced below which approach these medians from a budget perspective with the understanding that Council cannot possibly know how much more  needs  to be spent on these medians  until we know what  is currently being spent, And  what it is being spent on.
This request and your direction to Finance  was made back on Nov 27th .  What is the hold up ??
Ted Noftall

6 thoughts on “Does The City Have a Dismal Landscape Maintenance Program & Onion Type Budget?

  • December 28, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    Sadly I think we are starting to see where budget cuts were made, soon we will be seeing the bill for the shortsighted cutbacks. Every time we look their is landscape that has gone to wasteland, neglected maintenance as simple as keeping the light bulbs changed in the city hall lobby, or in Bob Ford’s latest discovery of leaking plumbing, standing water, ruined cabinets with mold in the city hall break room on Christmas Eve. Given the lack of maintenance of buildings, recall the gutter garden, AC broke at two fire stations for months before repairs were made. I am afraid we will be seeing more things coming to light that have costs yet to be calculated.

  • December 29, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Newton I share your laments also, but i would caution that throwing more money at a problem does not guarantees is correction.
    The real problems in Port Orange stem from employee neglect or incompetence, both of which are going addressed because our City Manager is unwilling to take any meaningful action on either the neglect or the incompetence.
    Mr Kisela needs to radically change his approach to managing his employees or be shown the door.

  • December 29, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Ted & Newton
    Did I miss something, I think I recall seeing info were someone on city staff made the decision to delete the Irrigation, Fertilizer and Pesticide program long before the Council voted to reduce the landscape budget.
    Also, I think the Council’s vote and intention was to reduce the number of annual mowing’s and not to start the semi-total-neglect mode that occurred.
    Moreover, in recent months D.P.W. found sufficient staff somewhere in the department to maintain the medians for the past few months. Why was it not possible for those same crews to be used from time to time to supplement the landscape contractors and keep the medians from deteriorating as far as they did?

  • December 29, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Yes, the work has been neglected just as we learned was the root cause of the zero read water meter issue, the supervisor chose to put aside following through until an insurmountable problem was no longer able to be concealed. Gutters were not cleaned until 2 foot tall weeds were growing and visible from a block away, light bulbs were not changed until noticed by citizens and pointed out in front of council and the manager. Their is a lack of performance, and absence of dynamic leadership and lack of accountability and consequences. This unfortunately is starting with the elected council members who have not demanded better performance publicly. The hard fact is the even the councils directives have not been acted on by the manager or staff, Dunlawton traffic timing, trimming of palm trees on Nova, walk lights. How long did it take to get a no cast netting ordinance on the agenda?
    And yes some say they talked to the manager privately and they do not want to admonish the manager from the diaz and I agree that first things should be private, but at some point in non performance of a public official, when that non performance has affected the public the admonishment must be public. Maybe we will see this before the elected officials are admonished at the ballot box.
    Newton White

  • January 4, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    It should not be very difficult to set up a landscape maintenance program. Take a lesson from a greens keeper at a golf course. The average person with a well manicured yard knows how to do it. Different vegetation requires different maintenance. Identify the different vegetation and establish schedules for mowing, trimming, irrigation, fertilizing and application of pesticides These things should be included in bid specs when hiring a contractor. They can even specify the amount of irrigation if applicable and the products used as pesticides and fertilizer. This will help get a handle on cost. The city needs to know the schedule and have an employee check that the work is being performed for verification and have them sign off on the pay requests for accountability. When the contractor is applying fertilizer or pesticides they need to contact the city so they can witness the work and follow up later to check the results ‘This will hold the contractor and the employee accountable. A performance bond may be something to consider.

  • January 4, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Response to Ted’s comment on program budgeting: I’m with Ted on program budgeting. I was employed at the City for 36 years and I prepared and maintained my operating and capital budgets for 35 of those years. I do not like program budgeting in most cases. You might as well use a fortune teller and crystal ball to break down into detail where certain amounts of money will be spent. It encourages people to invent things to spend money on or fake where it will be spent. You can estimate fairly close what you need to budget in your accounts as a whole. I say keep it simple.
    In the field of maintenance things are fluid and constantly changing. You need the dollars and the flexibility to adapt to the changes. If you are forced to strictly stick to the programmed amounts and don’t have flexibility things will not get done. To me program budgeting is like a smoke screen. I’m no financial expert but I do have a lot of experience with budgets and maintenance programs and I hope a little common sense.


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