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News from the President

July 30, 2007 -- Apalachicola

on Monday, 07 September 2015. Posted in News from the President

Concerned Citizens of Franklin County today announced the launch of their new website at ABetterFranklin.com. The new website is designed to inform citizens about the causes, effects, and remedies available for the excruciatingly high taxes that are paid by Franklin County residents.

In the last 5 years, taxes collected in Franklin County have risen by 203.5%. This is during a period when the county's population has increased by only 6.4%. The time has come for a call to review every expenditure that Franklin County makes, budget line item by budget line item.

Allan Feifer, President of Concerned Citizens of Franklin County ("CCFC") said, "We would be calling for Franklin County to begin using zero-based budgeting, but frankly, we don't think the officials in control of the County's budgeting process understand the term."

CCFC has issued a call for all Franklin County residents to appear in person at the 1st Budget Workshop of the Franklin County Board of County Commissioners in the Main Courtroom of the Courthouse (not the Annex) on Wednesday, August 8, 2007, at 9:00 AM. The purpose of the call is to express outrage at the highest per capita tax rate in all of Florida, and to insist that the County Commissioners find ways to reduce it.

Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. is a grass roots, citizen led organization that represents the disenfranchised citizenry of Franklin County on issues of government, waste, and to demand better leadership and accountability to the taxpayers. For more information about Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc., contact Allan Feifer, President, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., call CCFC at (850) 653-5571, or visit www.ABetterFranklin.com.

August 2007 - August Happenings!

on Monday, 07 September 2015. Posted in News from the President

Your CCFC has been mighty busy again this last month. Last Wednesday, August 8, was the Budget Workshop and things could not have been better insofar as the CCFC goes.

I don’t hand out accolades as much as I should, but I have to say our Budget Committee did us proud.

The Budget Committee, with Board oversight from Richard Harper, and I think they had a better grasp of the numbers than just about anyone else including our Commissioners and Constitutional Officers.

The State mandated a 9% cut in ad valorem spending for Franklin County. But that much needed start is imperiled by the ability of Franklin County Commissioners to overrule the state by the simple act of approving higher spending (ignoring the 9% rollback) of any amount with a 4-1 vote. That’s exactly the vote we had last year that gave Franklin County its first $50,000,000 budget. And, if you don’t think that could happen again this year, that our leaders would not dare to challenge the State’s mandate for a 9% rollback for the County with the worst fiscal record in the entire state; guess again. Gulf County did so last week by a 3-2 vote and Franklin County may be on that very same path.

Like hurricane predictions, trying to figure out what the numbers are is an exercise in dart throwing. But, with this preamble, I want to let you know that we are on the case and we are being felt and heard all across the County and also in Tallahassee.

The CCFC paid for and published a great two page tear out section in theApalachicola Timesfor citizens to understand the kind of budget questions we were going to ask and for citizens to be able to ask their own questions as well. This went over very well. We also passed out an additional 300 copies at the workshop.

The Budget Workshop was a standout success with over 300 private citizens in attendance! Few county employees or their families were in attendance this year as the issue of raises was taken off the table (or so everyone thought) early in the budget debate. That did not stop Commissioner Lockley from trying to sneak through an employee raise, which failed. The meeting was held in the old courthouse which featured much more space (we still filled it up!) than the new annex. The CCFC had a court stenographer, our attorney and our research people all ready to go. The County cooperated in allowing us unprecedented access (thank you Alan Pierce, Marcia Johnson and Commissioner Crofton) that allowed the CCFC to ask the final question or two for each department. The meeting was less contentious and more productive than any prior workshop according to everyone we spoke to. I must put one caveat in though. The source documents from which everyone works amalgamates both ad valorem and grant money. No one really knows what the final numbers are. The County is claiming they knocked down spending by a million plus dollars; I’m not so sure and we’ll keep working on it.

The biggest problem we have at the moment is Weems Hospital. Weems is requesting $1.931 million dollars in the new budget. This is a great deal more than had been previously indicated. To be fair, this also includes the $400,000 annual ambulance subsidy, leaving a net request for the hospital of $1.531 million. It’s impossible to get reliable numbers for past months and those numbers that we do receive do not conform to GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. A study of theDiagnostic Related Groupswould show that most of the people who use Weems could have been better served, at less cost, by a simple Doc in a Box. Over 70 people have full-time jobs at Weems and this seems to be the driving factor. There will be two public workshops conducted by the County later this month to discuss the proposed Health Care Sales Tax (and the future of Weems). The 1stworkshop is scheduled on Tuesday August 28, 2007 at 5 PM at the Senior Citizen Center in Carrabelle. The 2ndworkshop is scheduled on Thursday August 30, 2007 at 5 PM at the Commission Meeting Room (Courthouse Annex) in Apalachicola (see “Events List”). I can tell you that everyone agrees that Weems is obsolete and needs to be replaced. I believe that a new $40+ million dollar hospital is the direction we’re heading.

There is an initiative underway to enact a one penny Health Sales Tax. It has no final form yet and there are technical issues to resolve but what we understand now is that half a penny would go to some form of indigent care and the other half penny for healthcare facilities. Let me tell you folks; that ½ cent wouldn’t begin to fund a hospital, maybe a couple of satellite offices, but that’s it. A good friend of mine with experience in the area said we need an outside professional needs assessment by a major unbiased consulting firm. Yes, it will cost money and time, but the answers could ultimately save us millions in new property taxes and deliver better care to the citizens of Franklin County. For those of you who don’t know Sacred Heart has started construction of a new state-of-the-art hospital only 15 minutes from Apalachicola. Can you say free new hospital!!!

CCFC membership now stands just a tad below 500. Thanks you to all for your support. Hopefully, we are doing what you want us to do, if not, please email me.

There are oh so many people that I would like to single out for special thanks. However, some have requested that I not use their name in a public forum for fear of retribution. That’s truly sad and something all of us need to recognize will be a true sign of our success when people are no longer worried about speaking out in public. The CCFC needs your contributions. If you not already a member, please consider joining and making a contribution (click the Membership/Why Join? icon on our homepage). If you are a member already; please contribute generously so that we can fight the good fight.

We are very proud of the work that our people did to get our interactive website up and running!

Thank you always,

Allan J. Feifer, President, CCFC

October 10, 2007

on Monday, 07 September 2015. Posted in News from the President

The CCFC is coming out against the Franklin County Special Sales Surtax for "health care."

The CCFC is coming out against the Franklin County Special Sales Surtax for "health care."

In point of fact, the new sales taxitis not for "health care" and does not in any way guarantee to shift the burden of running Weems from property owners to a straight sales tax.

The facts as we know them now are, that the money may be spent on a new hospital, clinics, indigent care, general expenses of Weems, raises, new employee benefits, feasibility studies or just about anything, including glossy and expensive public relations campaigns to garner support for their positions. Make no mistake about it, the truth is as Commissioner Parrish inadvertently said at a healthcare workshop,it's about keeping a lot of jobs in Apalachicola.

The sales tax will not fund all the goodies promised. There is no way that a 25-bed rural hospital funded almost exclusively by Medicare and Medicaid can be profitable with a bed count usually under five each night and sometimes 0. (We don't think the sleep clinic should count in the nightly census as an acute care need.)

The CCFC has taken the position that an outside, nationally recognized health care consulting firm should be contracted to study health care alternatives in Franklin County, taking into account the wants and needs of the county and the fiscal realities. In fact, at the August 30th Apalachicola Hospital Workshop, the CCFC presented to the Board of County Commissioners an alternative healthcare approach and wording for the November 6th ballot question.They would not discuss nor even consider our proposal.

For those of you not in the know, Sacred Heart is building a new hospital right now 15 minutes west of Apalachicola which will be in direct competition with a replacement hospital in Franklin County. I guarantee this is just one of the many factors that have not been considered in the current push to building a low-balled $20 million replacement hospital in Apalachicola, among other promises.

Franklin County is the not the poster child for economical construction either. For a forewarning of what a new hospital might cost, just take a look at our still under construction $43 million dollar (and growing) 1100-student school. I've wondered if the new school is the most expensive school in the state on a per pupil basis. The CCFC was not around yet when the new school was approved but we're here now and sounding the alarm.

Again, the CCFC and its members are not against good health care for Franklin County. The way the issue has been framed by vested interests, anyone who disagrees or even questions the process is portrayed as stingy, cruel, unfeeling and generally against good health care in Franklin County. We know our readers are savvy enough to figure this out. Sooner or later, the County will be back to hit the property owners to support the "new" Franklin County health plan. With notes due each month there will be no choice but to reach into your pocket as the "full faith and credit" of Franklin County will have been pledged to secure poorly thought-out choices.

Watch for our ads in the coming weeks in theFranklin ChronicleandThe Times:Apalachicola/Carrabellenewspapers.

Allan J. Feifer, President, CCFC

December 25, 2007

on Monday, 07 September 2015. Posted in News from the President

Season's Greetings

Season's Greetings!

We hope this message catches you on or just after Christmas and that you are having the best of times. Family is so important this time of year and I hope that 2007 has been a wonderful year for you. Our membership now stands at 500 plus. We're excited that so many of you have supported us in fighting for fair taxation, openness in government and efficiency in delivering government services.

I attended the last Franklin County Commission meeting of the year last week and I am sorry to say we've taken a step back in the openness area. Newly appointed Chairman Noah Lockley has abolished evening Commission meetings. Lockley was against them when nighttime meetings were proposed and he killed them first chance he got as the new Chairman. As a consequence, fewer citizens will get the chance to address their leadership. This is a step back.

Thanks to you the CCFC has had a great year. Here are just a few of our accomplishments in 2007:

  • We've gone from 40 members at the end of 2006 to over 500 today!
  • The CCFC orchestrated the largest turnout (over 300 people) at a budget workshop in County history.
  • We successfully held down calls for a budget increase and worked hard for a 9% millage rate reduction both in the public eye and behind the scenes.
  • The CCFC has created several citizen run committees that look at budgets, county-wide voting and other important areas of concern.
  • We sponsored two county wide meetings that were both well attended.
  • Your Association has testified before a Florida State House Committee and in doing so has developed state level access.
  • Many Letters to the Editor have been published in the local newspaper to highlight issues of concern and interest to Franklin County citizens.
  • Your Association has spent thousands of dollars running issue ads to keep citizens informed and to draw attention to the misguided decisions, outright folly and sometimes just plain old abuse that is all too often the story of local politics.
  • The CCFC has been the voice of the people asking why the will of the people was ignored in the non-binding referendum that called for county-wide voting.
  • We have co-sponsored the Northwest Florida Taxpayer's Alliance to help give us a voice with other regional counties and to understand their needs, history, strategies and successes better.
  • On the State scene we have had conversations with movers and shakers from within our great State and who share our thoughts, concerns and issues.
  • A great deal of our success is owed to a small cadre of our membership that has worked tirelessly trying to connect the dots of spending, appraisals and taxation in order to answer that overriding question: "What the heck do they do with all that money!"
  • Your Board meets every month to meet the challenges facing us.

All of us feel blessed to live in God's country and have an overriding desire to give something back. It would be so easy to just look the other way and not make waves.

None of us are paid, or stand to reap any benefits beyond that which we all receive if we can help bring into being a Franklin County devoid of waste and suspected fraud and corruption.

Most of the people I deal with at Franklin County are normal honest citizens that resent the waste of their money and see on a daily basis the results of inefficient or worse county leadership.

I promise you that 2008 will bring with it no small number of surprises, outrages and disclosures.

The Board and I wish every one of you a great holiday season and a prosperous and safe 2008 and thank each of you for your support.

 

Allan J. Feifer, President, CCFC

January 22, 2008

on Monday, 07 September 2015. Posted in News from the President

January is our planning month. Your Board has a variety of competing issues that beg for attention. Later in this eNewsletter I will give you a list of the issues we think need our attention and that we must prioritize. I would like to get member feedback on what issues are important to you. I receive almost daily emails from our membership, and these are much appreciated as they help keep us grounded. Please continue to provide feedback and support; it's vital for us.

CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM

There is an important Constitutional Referendum on January 29th, and there are many misconceptions concerning this new proposed amendment. The Florida legislature met a record five times last year in order to craft the proposed amendment that will be voted on. The particulars have changed multiple times leading many to be uninformed as to the final verbiage.

There are several highlights that are favorable. I don't think the initiative goes far enough but it has several good points and is a step forward.

First and foremost, it does not get rid of the 3% cap or Save Our Homes. For the first time, non-homesteaded and commercial property will receive some protection in the form of a maximum 10% increase per year. Finally, the issue of portability was addressed and the relief is meaningful. I cannot tell you that the relief is what we wanted, but again, it is a step in the right direction.

The First Amendment Foundationin Tallahassee has been invited by the CCFC to put on a seminar on our First Amendment rights and the Florida Statutes as they relate to Sunshine laws and the Open Records Act. I attended one of their seminars last month in Wakulla and was greatly impressed with the power of ordinary citizens in Florida. Unless you know the ins and outs of the law though, you are powerless to apply them. We plan to invite government officials from Franklin as well as the general public. The seminar is planned for Thursday March 13th at the Eastpoint firehouse at 6:00 p.m. We will advertise the meeting ahead of time. This is another way that your Association can reach out to the general population to inform them of their rights and to help Franklin County officials understand their responsibilities.

ISSUES AND CONCERNS

The following issues and concerns have been identified by your Board as important to the success of our mission and are being prioritized for action this year:

  1. Continue to investigate County spending to uncover waste and publicize the findings.
  2. Come to a conclusion supported by a legal opinion on a specific issue that gives the public leverage in demanding a lower millage rate and commensurate lower spending by the County.
  3. Raise a minimum of $50,000 in calendar year 2008 to support our efforts.
  4. Pursue the issue of county-wide voting and establish once and for all the legality of the current County position.
  5. Investigate, document and publish the results of officials who misuse their public office.

This is a pretty full plate as you might have gathered. Some of the above is very much underway. We ask for your feedback and continued support as we pursue the issues of leadership, fair assessments, efficiency of government and transparency here in Franklin County. The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County is ideally positioned and structured to continue to make a real difference. As I constantly say, "The money spent by Franklin County is your money. The tyranny of the majority does not make it right to take from one group to give to another, no matter how noble sounding they may make it seem. As long as the majority of ad valorem taxes are collected from people disenfranchised to vote, the temptation to take will be overpowering." This is why we all need the citizen-run, citizen-led CCFC to stand up and say "No" to that which is unsupportable.

CCFC MEMBERS IN ATLANTA

Quite a few of our members live in Georgia. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested in a CCFC meeting in Atlanta.

Thank you for your support.

Allan J. Feifer, President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.

March 13, 2008

on Monday, 07 September 2015. Posted in News from the President

Access to PUBLIC MEETINGS in Florida

A Seminar Presented by The First Amendment Foundation
March 13, 2008 East Point, Florida

Sponsored by Concerned Citizens of Franklin County
Notes by CCFC President Allan Feifer

Last night your CCFC hosted an excellent seminar with the First Amendment Foundation. Below are my notes from the meeting.

Good Evening. My name is Allan Feifer and I am President of the Concerned Citizens of Franklin County. I want to thank everyone here today that took the time to come and learn more about what our rights are. I particularly want to commend the county employees and elected officials in attendance that are so important to this process. Americans are blessed with many rights but certainly one of the most important of those rights is the right to redress our government. Without factual knowledge citizens are powerless to challenge their government. When government operates in the shadows and when decisions are made amongst friends and associates instead of in front of the people; all of us are shortchanged and disenfranchised.

This is why the Concerned Citizens of Franklin County asked the state recognized First Amendment Foundation to put on a presentation today to explain our rights as citizens and the responsibilities that government officials have to be accountable to the citizens. Florida is in the forefront of States in making open government a priority.

I have the pleasure of introducing Barbara A. Petersen, President of the First Amendment Foundation. I then read a bio on her background. Following are bullets from the notes that I made. Attached is the handout that was used:

  1. Only a Judge can decide if there is a violation of the Sunshine or Open Records (OR) laws
  2. Citizens have a constitutional (State) right to information from their government
  3. Two or more elected officials talking about government business must be done in the Sunshine
  4. Public agencies of any description (or any private agency doing the work of government) are subject to Sunshine laws and must give reasonable notice of meetings, keep minutes and make all information available as soon as feasible.
  5. You need not wait for final documents, you can ask for the draft at any time.
  6. There is no exemption for personnel issues
  7. Enforcement. Your choice, State's Attorney, Civil Court, Sherriff, Attorney General's mediation program
  8. There is no such thing as Executive Session. The Board can declare the need for private meeting if it concerns specific actions such as litigation, but can't make any decisions. They can only be made in public. The private sessions must begin and end during an otherwise public meeting. They must take down minutes which must be released following the end of litigation. Also, they must disclose immediately following their closed door meeting if they discussed anything else that is not protected
  9. No County employee, official or private citizen can poll another to gain consensus. They call this daisy-chaining or being a conduit. This is strictly and clearly prohibited
  10. You have a right to ask any question you wish in any meeting. Reasonable rules of conduct and time may apply, but you can not be excluded. You can not be limited in any way as to what you want to talk about
  11. You have an "unalienable right to be present and to be heard"
  12. There are presently two bills in the Florida legislature to increase your access: Right to Speak and put force public disclosures onto web sites
  13. Budget workshops are just like any other public meetings. You have a right to be heard, though that right has not been adjudicated yet in court, therefore no precedent. This is very important to us since the Budget Workshop is where decisions are effectively made and we've been told that we do not have a right to speak. This is incorrect
  14. If you are denied a records request you have a statutory right to a written answer quoting chapter and verse as why you are not entitled
  15. Anyone who has custody of the records must respond. You do not have to be channeled to anyone specific.
  16. Your requests for information can be verbal or written

March 31, 2008

on Monday, 07 September 2015. Posted in News from the President

Your organization has gone quiet these past few months of the New Year, and that's intentional. Concerned Citizens of Franklin County has been very active but most of our efforts have been below the radar screen so we can go about the business of "discovery" without making too many waves. But, before I tell you what we are up to, I'd like to take a minute to discuss various county happenings.

  • One of the biggest pieces of news, at least from the counties perspective, is the dedication of the new Kendrick (as in Commissioner Sanders brother) ball field in Carrabelle. This million dollar sports complex matches the one built in Apalachicola. And did we mention that they already had an upgraded field right in Carrabelle?
  • Beach renourishment at Alligator Point; it's a dead issue. Frankly, it does not matter what side of the issue you were on. About a million dollars was spent and wasted. The County simply never took ownership of the issue. Wouldn't put a dime of tax money into it and the conclusion was foregone. More importantly, they divided the people into camps and played them one against another. It will take years for the damage to heal. But wait, the issue of what will replace beach renourishment at AP has yet to be decided. You can only bet that the County will drop the ball again and only the next big storm will decide things. I hope nobody is killed or injured; severe property damage is a foregone conclusion.
  • Everybody hear about the Bill Snyder case and the Lanark Village Water fiasco? Mr. Synder and a Mr. Rowell got into a fight at a meeting of the water department. Even though it appears that Mr. Rowell was the aggressor, Mr. Snyder was arrested by the Franklin County Sheriff's Department. Do you wonder why Mr. Snyder was arrested instead of Mr. Rowell? Apparently, a jury wondered why too because this last week a jury acquitted Mr. Snyder in 15 minutes flat.
  • The County is atwitter with news from the Property Appraiser's office that valuations will be down this year and the subsequent take from you will be down commensurately. The County's reaction — Seeking cuts in the current budget (a good move) while stating unequivocally that protecting jobs is their number one priority.
  • The head of the Seafood Task Force (STF) had a tiff with the County Commission. Seems he called them names like incompetent and useless. This completely sent one of the commissioners into orbit and she was unable to focus for a week I've been told. The STF refused to back down and stood fast with its leader.
  • The Chairman of the County Commission still refuses to allow nighttime meetings so that working citizens can attend and participate in our county government.
  • If you haven't heard already, the Tax Collector had another embezzlement. This is the third time in about 10 years. What's different this time is the amount; about $10,000 and who (the daughter of one of the Commissioners. The Apalachicola Times never mentioned any details including the name of the individual or that there was even a crime. They described it as "a breach in internal controls". They allowed the individual to resign for said breach.

We have seven projects either under way or completed this quarter. While we can't get into details on several of them publicly, know that there is a lot more to each of these bullets.

  • Your CCFC held a great seminar for the citizens, elected officials and county employees of Franklin. The First Amendment Foundation is "the source" of information related to our First Amendment rights to procure records under the Open Records Act and is a watchdog concerning Sunshine laws. Their President put on a great seminar. Unfortunately, only one elected official thought this was important; Marcia Johnson, Clerk of the Court.
  • Administrative matters. We have made sure that the CCFC is running legally and abiding by all the legal restrictions and reporting requirements under State and Federal laws.
  • We continue to take a focus on the Property Tax Appraiser's (PTA) office on multiple issues. The CCFC has developed information that will lead to reforms and at the appropriate time will make that information public. Our issue is not enforcing the law — it's enforcing it equally and consistently.
  • The County budget is still squarely in our crosshairs. As an example, we note that the County spent more purchasing bulk fuel by the gallon than it would have cost to buy it at the pump. They also bought mid grade instead of regular! The County also violated its own policy by not competing the fuel purchases but instead buying their fuel without bids from a local supplier.
  • We are planning on how to participate again in this year's budget process. I am really concerned that the County might resort to just raising the millage rate instead of making the type of cuts that are warranted after 20 years of ever increasing budgets. It all depends on what you and the CCFC do over the next six months or so.
  • County-Wide Voting is a sore spot with many people. With the County voters 69% vote for County-wide voting and then the Board of Commissioners disingenuously shutting the issue down, the matter still simmers. We have a Federal Judge's order stating one thing while Michael Shuler states another.
  • The County has Reserves and Cash Carried Forward of approximately $17 million. To put that into perspective that's considerably more than they collected in ad valorem taxes last year. Your Association is trying to determine of that money, what money is available for reprogramming and what money is fenced off. Our purpose in understanding this is to know if the County's reserves are larger than they need or are allowed by law. This has been the dirty little secret of Franklin County for years. Unlike a business, a County can not make a profit. Therefore, it is constrained to a significant degree on how much money it can hold in any rainy day fund no mater what they might say. It's your money.

These are the major items that we are working on quietly at this time.

Next month, it is time we replenish our treasury and we will ask you to support us again this year. For now, I want you to know that you have some amazingly hard working individuals that toil without recompense for you and your fellow Franklin County property taxpayers. It's all about fairness and openness. As always, I ask for your comments, words of support and ideas.

Thank you for your support and encouragement.

Allan J. Feifer,
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.

August 26, 2008

on Monday, 07 September 2015. Posted in News from the President

New posting under Ballot-2008; Analysis of Amendments:

County-wide voting newspaper ad

Outrageous Property Appraisals

Unfair Appraisals

September 4, 2008

on Monday, 07 September 2015. Posted in News from the President

Infamy

INFAMY

The September 4, 2008 Budget Adoption Hearing will be a day I remember for a very long time. September 4th was the day the Board of County Commissioners slammed the door hard on the citizens of Franklin County and made no bones about it. But before I get into that; I'd like to share with you some facts that will disturb you even more about Franklin County's school system.

1. Enrollment has continued to drop and our new 1,200 capacity, $55 million dollar school presently has only 893 students. And keep in mind, this is our only school.

2. Total Budget is $31 million dollars which also includes the capital portion.

3. Non-capital portion totals almost $16 million or $17,357 per student.

4. Franklin County is among the five lowest performing counties in the state in terms of FCATS. Both FCATS and graduation rates are trending down, not up. What's worse is that Florida is second from the bottom nationally in educational achievement. What does that say about Franklin County?

5. The school system has about 220 employees in total and about 100 teachers of all kinds and descriptions.

6. You may remember that there was a special referendum several months ago to transfer a half mill from the capital account to the operations account. The referendum passed and now provides an additional $1.5 million dollars to the system each year.

7. The School District has now rewarded the teachers (essentially all who voted in the low turnout election) with a 20% pay raise over the next three years! This will bring the average teacher salary to over $51,000 a year and many teacher salaries to over $68,000 a year. Always remember, that's for a nine month year and the system pays essentially all health and retirement benefits in full! And, by the way, the raises are not merit based but across the board.

8. This little school system (with but a single school) employs between 7-9 secretaries, 3 deans, a Principal, a Superintendent and myriad other positions. I can't hold back any longer. Can you say "jobs program?" Oh, and don't forget, there's the District staff on top of that!

9. None of the above figures include the Charter school in Apalachicola which is separate. I should also note that the Charter school continues to grow in size. What will happen when the Charter schools have more students than the Consolidated County School?

The school system will certainly be a CCFC priority next year.

Now, back to the main event.

Thursday night was good for one thing and one thing only…Validation. Validation that the BOCC cares little about taxpayers, but a lot about their power and position. It was like watching some Roman Praetorian forum. Between 100-125 members of the public came, they saw, and got summarily kicked in the gut by the four commissioners in attendance. It was ugly. For three hours, one after another person took the podium to ask for help in reducing spending and truth in advertising—what the budget was and where was it being paid from. We were lectured, ignored, misdirected and otherwise made to feel as if we were children, who did not understand what the grown-ups were saying.

The CCFC had nine citizens present nine different suggestions designed to reduce spending now and to allow a commensurate level of budget reduction. To say all were rejected out-of-hand would not be appropriate, since there was hardly a word spoken by the BOCC. The few comments that were made were flip, off hand and generally condescending or patronizing.

Over and over again, we heard Commissioners express impotence at making changes to the budget; that they had "no control" over constitutional officers and were not in the position to second guess department heads. No Commissioner expressed any real understanding of the budget to include Cash Carry Forward of $14.4 million or Reserves of almost $5 million. Commissioners also increased their own special reserve fund from under $1 million to $1.5 million. They had no response when queried on this or other measures.

Many citizens did not understand how the requested 10% budget cuts eventually morphed into a roughly 1% cut, but an overall increase of the total budget from $48.9 million last year to $49.8 million this year plainly demonstrates the deception. It's clear as mud as I stated in a previous email to you.

You have to ask yourself the question "Who is in charge?" The BOCC has abdicated that responsibility to a cabal of special interests groups, most notably the employees. There is no where else to go with this. Roughly 208 employees work for the County directly and another 85 or so work for the hospital, that's where the vast bulk of the money goes. Job one for the County is protecting employees, not services.

At the end of the day, the BOCC voted 3-1 (Russell Crofton against) in favor of the budget. A member of the audience expressed their frustration after the vote by saying to the BOCC, "In other words, this audience has wasted their time tonight." Amen.

So where do we go from here? We had to go through the process of laying out a proper course of action. We have been rebuffed. We will return to legal action as our next step. The last year plus has allowed the CCFC to build up a war chest of information and charges that need a public airing. We will do so.

Please renew your CCFC membership ASAP if you have not done so already. We'll need a lot more money to move forward on your behalf. Any dues payment of $25 or more is appreciated, but, voting membership is at least $100. Just send in what you can, I promise we won't squander it! The address for sending in your dues is below.

Thank you,

Allan J. Feifer
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328

www.ABetterFranklin.com

(850) 653-5571

"The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. serves as a citizens' advocate to ensure that our Franklin County governments are more open, affordable, efficient, and responsive to our citizens. The organization seeks to hold public officials accountable for their actions in the administration of their duties and in their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers."

December 2008

on Monday, 07 September 2015. Posted in News from the President

Truth & Ethics

Truth & Ethics

You have probably heard the phrase "the first victim of war is the truth." I have also heard it used in describing politics as well. Since writing our membership in late August a lot has happened, both here in Franklin County and also across our great land. We have new leadership at many levels and problems that at times might seem insurmountable. I was listening to one radio talk show yesterday featuring recession proof jobs. At the top of the list were government jobs. Yes, you'll hear about this government service being cut here, or that government office closed there, but historically, few government jobs are cut in the end. In fact, recessions usually herald an increase in government jobs and benefits as "stimulus" money percolates down. We will have to see how the present economic conditions play out. But, understand this one truth, we are the grass roots. Change starts with us and the actions we either take or don't take. Our problems are not insurmountable when "You" are involved.

2008 Franklin County Election Comments

The 2008 General Election is behind us and delivered a couple of surprises and one sad eventuality.

  • Richard Harper, running for Property Appraiser was soundly trounced at the polls. Essentially, persons not born here, voted for Richard and people born here, didn't. Richard worked extremely hard on his campaign and I personally appreciate all of the effort he put into the race; all of us learned a lot from his experience.
  • Pinki Jackel won over Russell Crofton and became the first Republican to win a seat on the BOCC in many, many years, if ever. She will be a positive addition to the BOCC and I'm hoping she'll shakeup the status quo.
  • Skip Shiver beat Bruce Barnes for Sherriff and seems to be following through in bringing in outside talent to make his own mark on the department.
  • Nina Marks won as School Superintendant on a pledge to expand the school employee count.

No other surprises to speak of. The CCFC wishes all of our elected officials the best as they begin their new terms.

Certified Taxable Digest Amended by More than 3%

The realities of the present economic situation have hit Franklin County hard and there is more pain on the way. Doris Pendleton, our Property Appraiser (PA) amended her Certified Taxable Digest by more than 3%.That is a loss of 3% in taxable value in the County and represents a drop of about $500,000 in tax revenues to the County in the current fiscal year!

I specifically asked the BOCC at their last meeting how they were going to pay for this reduction and they appeared to defer the question to the Clerk of the Court. At least that was how someone with me interpreted the convoluted response I received.Can anyone say, "Reserves!"Jimmy Harris, our Tax Commissioner bemoaned the drop off in collections to the County coffers when he compared year-to-date numbers from last year to this year. People apparently can't afford to pay some of these exorbitant taxes! The Commissioners are showing real fear that the Golden Goose has flown the coup! And, they are right. I have talked to many individuals that own property here, only because they can't sell. When the market turns around a bit, they are getting out. A number of investors have spread the word, that Franklin County is toxic to investors. The "we don't need your money" message has been received near and far.

I understand that Doris Pendleton's change to the Certified County Tax Digest is the largest in the State on a percentage basis. This is curious and requires further explanation and investigation. The CCFC will be requesting through the Open Records Act a listing of all the properties that have had their valuations reduced, to establish whether there is a pattern to those who experienced a reduction in their assessment, particularly in the light of this having been an election year. To say that the Property Appraiser must not use her office for political purposes goes without saying. Whether her 13 employees are used for political purposes is certainly another matter worthy of scrutiny and is at the heart of allegations of intimidation and reprisals.

Return Evening County Commission Meetings

Several citizens have asked over the last couple of BOCC meetings for a return to one evening meeting per month to allow working people to attend. The first two individuals that queried the Commissioners in the prior two meetings did not even get the courtesy of a "thank you" or "we will take it under advisement." Nothing, nada, silence. Last week, after the last poor soul threw himself on the issue without a word in response, I got up and asked for the BOCC to at least address the request. Our new Chairman, Smokey Parrish stated that their appeared to be little demand for evening meetings and said that participation was sparse when they used to have them. I don't agree, it's both arrogant and revealing that working people, especially the people who pay the bulk of the taxes are systematically excluded from addressing their representatives. We need your support on this issue. Below is a list of Commissioners and their email and phone numbers.Would you please email all of our Commissioner today and ask that evening meetings be reinstituted?Copy me if you would as well.

FRANKLIN COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

  • Pinki Jackel//abetterfranklin.com/This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." data-mce-href="This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." style="color: rgb(27, 87, 177); text-decoration: none; font-weight: normal;">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Phone (850) 670-6700
  • Cheryl SandersThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Phone (850) 697-2534
  • Bevin PutnalThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Phone (850) 697-3719
  • Smokey ParrishThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Phone (850) 653-8790
  • Noah LockleyThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Phone (850) 653-4452

Have Your Civil Rights Been Violated?

Let's talk about something even more serious for a moment. I have been approached by several individuals over the past several months that believe their civil rights have been violated by elected officials of the County. I have agreed to be a conduit to see how many more people feel their Civil Rights have been violated. I would like anyone who believes that their rights have been violated to contact me via email and tell me their circumstance. There may be a legal action that can be taken to protect your rights and provide redress. Too many people tell me they are afraid to speak up. I promise you that your name and contact information will not be released without your permission. It is essential that all of us "Tell the Truth." You are not alone. Divided we fall, united we stand. You live in one of the freest countries in the world. Please, don't be afraid, we can help. The perpetuators of fear depend on you to not speak out. Prove them wrong.

CCFC Committee Proposed to Monitor FC School Board

Most people don't realize it, but the School Board actually gets a higher percentage of your tax dollars than the County. As I mentioned in our previous email, the Franklin County School Board is a mess as measured by the metrics that matter most, i.e. educational obtainment and value delivered. The CCFC has no official position today due to a lack of analysis and information. We want to change that. We are standing up a committee with one purpose, and one purpose only; attend school Board meetings and collect publicly available information that will help the CCFC understand the school system's present disposition and plans, thus allowing the CCFC to form an actionable position in the future. We need meeting attenders and a CPA/Accountant on this committee. Please email me your interest. More than ever, we owe it to the kids and ourselves to demand a decent education and transparency in the process.

Abuses by Government Officials and County-wide Voting

Have you ever heard of SWAT? No, not the police kind with guns, but the marketing kind that means Strengths, Weaknesses and Tactics. Your Association has spent many hours thinking about our SWAT. Our strength is our members and the truth of our mission. It's not their money to take from you and give to someone else. That's a basic fact and a basic right, both of which will inevitably ensure our success. First, we are weakened because we are outnumbered by the many good local folks who are obviously concerned with the potential negative ramifications of change, fed a steady stream of misinformation by people with their own special interests, and two, may have benefited by the kind of class warfare perpetrated on all of us by those who profit from maintaining the status quo. As discussed in a recent letter to our members, Your Association is going the legal route. We have two major thrusts within the CCFC; first, we will push for fairness and strict legal operations by government officials. In those cases where there are blatant abuses, we are going after those individuals to require them to follow the law. You will hear much more about this in future letters from me and in the press as these stories break. Second, our legal council has found a way to bypass the BOCC and allow the citizens to decide whether or not they want County-wide voting. We are actively pursuing this issue and if you have a special interest in making it happen; email me directly for details and to express your interest in helping. County-wide voting would both shake-up the existing power structure and force many people to "declare" their true intentions; no more sitting on both sides of the fence depending on who you are talking to at the moment.

CCFC Annual Meeting - Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. will have its Annual Meeting on Saturday, March 28th. There will be three parts to the meeting:

  1. Members Meeting
  2. CCFC sponsored lunch
  3. Public Meeting, open to all

Details have not been finalized yet, but the meeting will be held in the Eastpoint Firehouse and will be in the morning to early afternoon. We hope to see all of you there and will solicit your input. Further details to follow next month, but, please mark your calendar now and plan to attend.

Sign-up for a Committee

That leads us to the next subject, that of your input in general. Several of you have been very generous with your ideas and time. Please keep it up. As we finalize our plans for 2009, continue to communicate your ideas, concerns and thoughts with your Board so that we may reflect that input. We need more Board Members, Committee Leaders and especially interested committee members. If you have an interest, we probably have a committee you'd be happy on! We have openings in the County Budget, Hospital, School, County-wide voting, Property Assessment and Hospitality committees. Please let us know what committee you might be willing to serve on.

County Spending Has Got to Come Down

Fellow members, we've long since identified the need for basic truth and ethical conduct as the greatest need within the political structures of Franklin County. We can't simply go out and make that happen alone. All of us need to make that happen through what you demand at the ballot box and just as importantly, in-between those elections. Communicate your displeasure to your Commissioners and copy us when you do. Nothing motivates a politician to do the right thing more than both a well-aimed spotlight and all of us, saying, "Enough is Enough". County spending has to come down or everyone is in for a large tax increase next year. The existing assessments are both unsupportable and unsustainable. Further, they can't collect them anyway; people are hurting. That's why, it's such a slap in the face to so many, to see County and School employees, have their pay and benefits increased on the backs of people hanging on by a thread in some cases. We don't begrudge anyone their living, but maybe it's time to reduce head counts to reflect the financial realities of the times and the commensurate need for services. I think that you will agree, the Golden Goose has departed Franklin County and won't be back for quite some time.

Best wishes from all of us, to all of you, for a safe and happy holiday season!

Thank you,

Allan J. Feifer
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.

February 2009

on Monday, 07 September 2015. Posted in News from the President

Breathless in Franklin County

Breathless in Franklin County

Stimulus.Our County waits with undeniable bated breath for their share of the "Stimulus”. For Franklin County, stimulus is the answer to the question of how will the County pay itself in the next budget cycle and receive last year's widely circulated promise of a $2,000 across the board raise. The County has ponied up tens of millions of dollars worth of projects they'd like to see undertaken in the County. Government workers (not just in Franklin County) just don't get it. The harsh reality is that the County Tax Digest is likely to drop between 20-25% (source: BOCC meeting) creating an additional $2 million dollar hole in county spending. Unless by some miracle the County receives a check for general operations from the Feds, the BOCC ultimately will have three choices in front of them:

  • Damn any belt tightening and take money from reserves accumulated over the years by overtaxing you. (the same as they did in the current fiscal year)
  • Or, skip any cutbacks and raise the millage rate enough to compensate for spending in excess of revenues
  • Reduce the budget

The problem with reducing the budget is that it is largely payroll. There's a few more dollars to cut here and there, but a 20% plus cut would mean significant reductions in the head count. You will hear a lot about cutting people and cutting services over the course of the year, and much of what you hear will not be truthful. One well-placed insider told me they'd cut fuel, electricity, trash pickup, road building and any other non-payroll expense, rather than let anyone go. A Constitutional Officer joked that they might need to expand the courthouse annex courtroom so that workers could clock in each morning and have a place to sit out the day! Serious or not, the attitude is there. The service boogeyman is going to be flogged to death this year. The few services this County delivers could be delivered with half as many on the payroll. That's what it really comes down to. If you don't believe it, we had half as many employees as recently as the 90's, and with substantially the same population then, as now. Unquestionably, the largest growth has been with the constitutional officers; but there has been plenty of growth all around.

The problem with taking from Reserves is that it is not fiscally conservative. Reserves are for the unforeseen and the temporary. That we would be in this pickle was absolutely foreseeable and is permanent. Raising the millage rate is going to be popular because it does not hurt those homesteaded as much since the Save Our Homes (SOH) cap is 3% annually and the Property Appraiser has continued to raise everybody's cap by the 3% limit each year anyway. (Not everyone, but that's another story) Non-homesteaded individuals could be hit with a proportionately larger increase than the 20-25% to make up for all the properties limited in their increase by SOH. This would be a disaster from a property value point of view; piling on additional costs for thousands of people at precisely the time they can least afford it. Worse, the school system takes the lion share of your tax dollars and is doing nothing to rein in costs, even though they were exempted from last years state required cuts.

The CCFC will be all over this issue in the coming months, but we need your help and support. We need your help in maintaining and expanding our membership and we need your help in volunteering to do some of the heavy lifting that is required to push forward our various programs.

Major news on the County-wide front.The CCFC's attorney has prepared a position paper that takes us from where we are today to County-wide voting. We will talk in more detail about our actions at our Annual Meeting. A key element though is standing up a Political Action Committee to legally perform the steps required to have a referendum on the issue that effectively bypasses the BOCC. Your Board Members are stretched very thin at the moment and all the leadership positions of the PAC need to be filled by other Franklin County residents. We will be diligently looking for able, motivated individuals to staff those key positions and move the ball forward over the next couple of months. The CCFC will provide the seed money to get the ball rolling. Much more to follow.

BOCC Meetings.It's semi-official. Despite a letter writing campaign, calls and pleas before the Franklin BOCC, there is no real support for the issue of evening BOCC meetings. To all the people that I have talked with on the subject, I'm very sorry to report where we are at. There is nothing legally that forces the BOCC to hold meetings at night, even though many other counties follow that practice. We'll keep asking, but it's another thumb in the eye for the people who work to pay the taxes demanded by our BOCC.

Our School System.Have you heard the news; the school system is somehow short a million and a half dollars this year! Don't worry though, newly elected Superintendant Nina Marks says, "Saving jobs is our first priority," gosh, I though the kids were. Forgive me for being a bit picky, but I'm angry with the apparent priorities of this rich school system that spends over $15,000 (probably closer to $17,000) per student. And, that is the operational spending, not including the capital accounts, i.e. building the new school! Did you hear about the $30,000 a month electric bill??

Wasn't it just last year that the school system had a "sneak referendum" to transfer extra mills from the capital accounts to the operating accounts so they could become one of the best paid, lowest performing school system in Florida? Obviously, whoever runs the budget failed Math. Keep in mind, that last year's rollback of property taxes exempted the school system. One thing for sure, the word "shame" has never been taught in our one school, school system. As in, it's a "shame" that our children are so poorly served by such a "rich" school system. After all, it really is about the kids; isn't it, or is that just more rhetoric designed to deflect criticism of an obviously failed system? Otherwise, who do we blame...the children? I don't think so, and neither do you.

We will commence the CCFC's 2009 renewal campaign in April. However, anyone that wants to can go ahead and pay their 2009 dues now. Just send them in to the address at the bottom of this email. Any dues amount from $25 to $500 or more are gratefully accepted and will be put to your dues to use securing your rights as a property taxpayer. The CCFC is heard far beyond our little county's borders and reflects the tremendous need for representation outside traditional political channels.

Franklin County Property Appraiser.What can we say about our friendly, neighborhood property appraiser? The CCFC is dedicated to bringing fairness and equity to the tax rolls. There must be a single standard for appraising properties that does not take into account whether you were born here or not. Additionally, we feel compelled to remind our Property Appraiser that her job is not to provide to the BOCC a given Property Tax Digest sufficient to fund the County's appetite for revenue, but simply to assess the property of Franklin County in a fair, consistent, legal and equitable manner.

The CCFC has active document requests, research projects and other efforts underway to bring that fairness and equity to Franklin County. No one should be afraid of the Property Appraiser's office. If you have made a request to the Property Appraiser and been rebuffed or believe that you have been singled out for punitive action as a result thereof; please contact me immediately. I promise you that the CCFC will listen to your complaint and help bring you equity. None of us are alone when we stand together. We will be working with any and all BOCC member(s) who seriously wants to bring the County budget down, in line with the availability of funding. The CCFC represents you in the fight for accountability, transparency and fairness in creating the County's budget.

As always, we are looking to add Board Members and Committee Volunteers who are willing to devote at least a few hours each month to the cause. Personally, I think your participation returns an economic reward straight into your pocketbook or wallet. Please consider formalizing your arrangement by volunteering for service with the CCFC!

Relay for Life.One additional item we've been asked to disseminate: This year's Relay for Life will be held at the new Franklin County School, May 15th beginning at 6pm and running thru the night ending at 12 noon May 16th. The reason we relay thru the night is because Cancer Never Sleeps. Please join us in honoring those who have won their battle, remember those who have lost their battle, and Think Local First by keeping donations here to support our own community. Volunteers are needed and if you can help please contact Susan Hoffritz at 323-0560.

Thank you,

Allan J. Feifer
President

March 2009

on Monday, 07 September 2015. Posted in News from the President

Annual Meeting

ANNUAL MEETING
Conducted March 28, 2009

The Annual Meeting held March 28th at the Eastpoint firehouse was well received by those in attendance and generated many questions and areas of discussion.

The meeting included a slide presentation which you may wish toview. Questions or comments relating to the presentation may be sent toThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

April, 2009

on Monday, 07 September 2015. Posted in News from the President

Cats and Dogs
The best show in town is arguably the Board of County Commissioner Meetings. Last month the long awaited kickoff for Franklin County's Economic Development Commission were dashed on the rocks of payback. Despite unanimous approval in earlier meetings this time was different. Apparently Commissioner Jackel dared to ask that the county get an updated appraisal before purchasing the land of someone closely tied to Commissioner Parrish. Cries of its "free grant money, so why do you care?" rang out, forcing a tabling of the proposed purchase; at least for now. But that wasn't the end of it, after first voting for it, three of the commissioners demanded another vote to kill the Economic Development Committee without discussion or reason given. It left everyone in the room stunned and speechless. Only Commissioners Sanders and Jackel were in support. Friends, let me ask you a question: Does this show the true loyalties and colors of some of our Commissioners?

Franklin County Tax Digest
We visited with the Property Appraiser earlier in the month. She was gracious and answered all our questions. What is apparent is that the County Tax Digest is going to take a nosedive this year. The Property Appraiser estimates 30%, we think a bit less. However, these reductions will be spotty and definitely not across the board. There have been more foreclosures so far this year than all of last year. Times are tough.

There are really two kinds of county-wide assessments:

  1. The millage rate imposed by the BOCC and which includes all the constitutional officers.
  2. The millage rate imposed by the School Board.

Your Association has just completed a study of county employee head counts in surrounding counties and other small coastal counties for comparison. We'll publish those results on this web site in the next couple of weeks pending verification. However, at least initially, the figures show Franklin County with the largest overall head count per capita in general, particularly in the constitutional offices. The county has to decide between substantial cuts in people, a substantial millage rate increase, hitting the reserve again or a combination of the three. I believe everyone is comfortable with the reality that Franklin County is to receive little if any "stimulus" money. I do however sense that several of the Commissioners are seriously looking at cost cutting this year, more than in the past. The problem with hitting the reserves is that next year could be worse than this year! At some point, you have to live within your means.

Our School System
The School District is another matter. New Superintendant Nina Marks has publicly expressed that maintaining jobs is her number one concern. With the school portion of your taxes greater than the County portion and with no real way of focusing a spotlight on the excesses of the Distinct, the CCFC expects little budget cutting and a large increase in the millage rate later this year. We believe in education. But, at around $17,000 per student in the consolidated school, with truly abysmal graduation rates and scores, someone needs to be held accountable. "It's for the children" is worn like a suit of armor designed to defeat anyone who questions the bureaucracy. Teachers are great, bureaucracy is bad. Let's demand results and cut excess costs. How can anyone really argue against that? Parents must step up to the plate on this issue. They have more standing than anyone else. Each child deserves a 21st century education!

CCFC Needs Your Financial Help
Finally, it's membership renewal time again. We need $35,000 in membership dues to fund all of our activities this year. Your generous membership dues (not tax deductible) are necessary to accomplish our goals. We hope you agree that your participation, if only writing a check, is an invaluable aid to protecting your property rights and your wallet in Franklin County. Average dues have been about $100 with minimum dues of $25 per person. Please send your check today to the address below. If you either joined or paid your dues after November first, you are good for this year. There is strength in numbers, so we ask you to help us recruit new members to the CCFC. Together we CAN and ARE making a difference. Please pull out your checkbook today while it is fresh in your mind!

Thank you,

Allan J. Feifer
President

July, 2009

on Monday, 07 September 2015. Posted in News from the President

2009 Budget Workshops

2009 Budget Workshops
Next Thursday July 23rd at 9:00 a.m. the Franklin County Board of Commissioners will hear from the various Constitutional Officers and Department heads, requests for funding in the 2009/2010 budget cycle. There is another group that should be prominently represented at this workshop, the citizens of Franklin County. How many of us will come forward and take our time to watch the County make what amounts to sausage?

Some people suffer from a form of battle fatigue on these issues. They are not sure what to believe and think that someone else will step up to the plate in their stead. And, that's exactly what some hope will happen this year as well. Friends, this is a historic budget year. Your taxes will not likely be going down, but they definitely could be going up, for some, way up. Here are the facts:

  • Doris Pendleton, our Property Appraiser has recently stated that the overall drop in the County Tax Digest will amount to about 20%. Some people think that means their taxes will drop 20% and that would be true if the reductions were spread out evenly amongst all properties (which they are not) and if the millage rate was left alone, which will not likely be.
  • At the current millage rate and with the projected Preliminary Certified Tax Digest, the county faces a $2 million drop in receipts. The County's expenses are heavily tilted towards personnel and there is no possibility of absorbing this decrease through non-personnel reductions. In fact, the County is also looking at a drop in state aid as well.
  • County reserves have been used to plug budget shortfalls over the last three years. Taking reserves to cover current expenses must stop.
  • The new proposed budgets which will be presented to the Commissioners next week by Department Heads and Constitutional Officers do not show any substantial budget cutting. In fact, some have proposed increases.
  • There is an issue of fairness that will be aired at next week's Budget Workshop. The CCFC has discovered that several Constitutional Officers have secretly been giving raises/bonuses to select employees on top of the hotly contested across the board increases given last year.

Government must be in the Sunshine both from a legal and ethical standard. Some people within county government are trying to muzzle the process this year because there is a genuine crisis afoot. At this time, the CCFC does not know whether we will be allowed to speak at the Budget Workshop. This should be a great concern to all of us. We are at a critical time in our experiment known as Democracy. The Congressional Budget Office just reported that 47% of Americans will pay no income taxes this year. That's a combination of a poor economy and something much more insidious; a conscious transfer of the responsibility for paying for government services from all of us, to some of us. That some of us in Franklin County is all too often “the Outsider” or those not blessed with being connected. A favorable property assessment by deign of birth, does not make it right. Family ties that get you a plumb County job not advertised to others is wrong. Your excellent political connections should not entitle you to winning no bid contracts. But, all of this can and does happen regularly here in Franklin County. Equitable treatment of all the citizens of Franklin County is not only a request; it is the law.

Make no mistake about it; this year there is going to be a fight on the budget and the resulting millage rate. Do not be lulled into believing that the millage rate in Franklin County is low and therefore should rise. The only thing that is important is the budget. Franklin County is already a pariah amongst the investment community. Just look at the extraordinarily high number of Tax Certificates sold this year and the lack of development, sales of existing properties and diminished retail sales. All these signs point to the effects of trying to draw too much water from the well. Property taxes are just the tip of the iceberg. But, make no mistake about it, all of us suffer from a bad business climate made worse by bad decision making by our leaders.

Please voice your concern to your elected representatives both at the BOCC and with the School Board. This is a year of decision. The years of plenty are definitely gone. We need as many of you as is possible to turn out, even if it's for only an hour. Commissioners definitely count noses. When they see empty seats and little or no participation by the citizens some Commissioners feel empowered to reach into your pocket and take your money, your savings and even your ability to live here. I hope everyone sees this as the important issue that it is and turns out next Thursday to voice their concern for a County government that disproportionately spends your money vs. other counties. I have included achartof what some other counties spend on a department by department basis as proof. And, don't forget to bring a friend.

I have put contact information for your commissioners below. If you can't make it to the hearings, this is an excellent alternative way for them to hear your opinions and concerns. And, I hope you will email me with your questions/priorities. We want to hear from you.

COMMISSIONER CONTACTS:

  • Commissioner Cheryl Sanders (850) 697-2534
  • Chairman Smokey Parrish (850) 653-8790
  • Commissioner Pinki Jackel (850) 670-6700
  • Commissioner Noah Lockley (850)653-4452
  • Commissioner Bevin Putnal (850) 697-3719

Thank you,

Allan J. Feifer, President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.

11Jan11 - Letter to the Editor -- Apalachicola Times

on Monday, 07 September 2015. Posted in News from the President

In the Public Trust

In the Public Trust

The first Board Meeting of the 2011 Franklin County Board of County Commissioners began on a contradictory and sour note. It is the stated policy of the Board to bid out purchases of more than $10,000. This policy ensures that the county receives best value for its money and just as importantly, upholds the covenant made with the people it serves on the issues of openness, honesty and fiscal responsibility in government.More >>

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