WHO's the BOSS???

on Friday, 28 September 2018.

Guest Editorial by: Mel Kelly (Former Mayor of Carrabelle)

I believe that the Franklin County Board of County Commissioners is out of control!

They have decided to limit public comments and input to three minutes by each person, which is allowed ONLY PRIOR to the meeting. There is no opportunity being given to add comments or ask questions about any agenda item as of now, by anyone who may attend with the hope that their input be heard on an issue of concern to them. NO COMMENTS ARE BEING ALLOWED ON ANY AGENDA ITEM EVEN THOUGH THE COMMISSIONERS DECISION OR ACTION MAY DIRECTLY AFFECT YOU, THE TAXPAYER!

Have you, as a taxpayer, attended any recent meetings of the current commissioners? Have you heard those speakers who come with legitimate comments, questions and concerns being criticized, ridiculed, insulted, ignored and dismissed for their wish to be heard by their commissioners? (More than once, we have heard with our own ears, Commissioners essentially telling a speaker to “Go back where you came from!” with NO APOLOGY, RESTRAINT or even REMORSE expressed by any other commissioner, including the Chair.) Yet, these taxpaying speakers are often funding the majority of property taxes that add to the operational funds for Franklin County.

Current property tax figures show that less than 1⁄4 - that is 23% of Franklin County taxpayers pay more than 60% - well above 1⁄2 - of the taxes collected and spent by commission approvals. And yet, those majority taxpayers are most often the subject of personal attacks - or the indignity of being ignored - by those same, self-important commissioners!

Do you know that the current 5 commissioners together pay a total of $3,325.75 in homestead property taxes to fund our county and schools? That is an average of $645.15 per commissioner’s payment. BUT, it is very important to note that, since one commissioner currently pays NOTHING and one pays a mere $50, the three others pay the remainder of that $3325.75 figure. And do you know that ONE of the current commission candidates pays more in property taxes ($4776.24) than all five seated current commissioners combined!

Is there perhaps something amiss with our assessments? Are new, out of town owners penalized for their interest and willingness to buy property in Franklin County? And it seems commissioners are most willing to take their high tax levy, just not their comments or questions in a public meeting!

How long will such high paying taxpayers continue to come to Franklin County to be insulted and demeaned and even disregarded by their county commission, whose salaries taxpayers pay? Do you know that each County Commissioner in Franklin County earns an individual salary of $27,305.00? Do you know that they receive more than $8000 annually in benefits such a health, dental, vision and life insurance at no cost to themselves? Do you know that the state of Florida adds another 48.7% of each commissioner’s salary in pension contributions? (No, that is not a typo) How many of those high paying taxpayers who are often insulted or disrespected at the speakers’ podium does it take to pay ONE commissioner’s salary, plus the additional benefits they enjoy? How many of those high paying taxpayers does it take to pay all five commission salaries at a total of $136.525.00 (without adding benefits and Florida Retirement System monies?) Conversely, how many of the tax paying commissioners who pay only $50 in annual property taxes, or even pay $0, NOTHING, in property taxes to fund the county they oversee should have a right to shut out input from other taxpayers who seek to ask legitimate questions or make comments about the county they are supporting?

The arrogance and despotism of the Franklin County commissioners must be stopped. Taxpayers should realize they are being used for their monies, while being tyrannically shut out of their right to make legitimate public commentary on behalf of decision-making efforts and the processes of government that regulate their Franklin County lives and taxes.

The election to be held on November 6th has three new candidates running for the office vacated by retiring commissioner Cheryl Sanders and one new candidate running against the incumbent Chairman, Smokey Parrish. You are encouraged to ask all candidates about their willingness to allow the taxpayers to better participate in county government. All new and current county commissioners must be held accountable and support transparency in their actions.

You are further encouraged to attend YOUR county commission meetings as your time allows. When you attend, please consider using your personal three minute allowance of free speech to tell the commissioners what you think about their decision to ‘tokenize’ taxpayers’ input into the county government. Remember, they need taxpayer dollars to operate.

Franklin County commissioners have an important job to do. How they do it may well depend upon you, THEIR BOSSES.


The CCFC has just sent a list of questions for all the Candidates running for County Commission. We will make sure that the answers we receive will be available to you prior to the start of early voting. The CCFC is non-political and supports no candidates.

We’d love to hear your opinions as well. Please call or write us if you have comments.

Thank you for your support of the CCFC. Some of our readers have not paid their 2018 dues yet. Please remember us if you can. Not a member? No problem, click on... http://abetterfranklin.com/index.php/join-ccfc Join today. We depend on your support!

Thank you!

Sincerely,

Allan J. Feifer
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Cheryl Sanders - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 697-2534

Chairman-Commissioner Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Commissioner Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner William Massey - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

A Special Message to Franklin County Property Owners

on Friday, 02 November 2018.

2018 has been extremely active for CCFC and Franklin County government. Five of seven governmental agencies in Franklin County again raised their taxes. We believe those raises were unnecessary. We brought analyses and information to budget hearings to prove the accounts could have been better managed to avoid those increases, on you, the taxpayer.

The CCFC represents those without a voice on matters of financial propriety, and seeks to secure transparency, efficiency and eliminate public corruption in Franklin County. If you ever had the feeling that you were powerless to affect change, that’s where we come in. We work with Commissioners, Hospital Board and other elected officials throughout the year. We hold elected officials to account and raise our voices to influence their deliberations and outcomes.

Please feel free to share this letter with your friends; encourage them to learn more about the work of the Concerned Citizens and to join the CCFC as new members.

Let me share with you some of this year’s CCFC efforts on behalf of best practices to achieve and guarantee transparency and a fiscally responsible, fair and accountable government for Franklin County.

  1. We have attended almost all County Commission Meetings in 2018. When appropriate and possible, we speak up with facts, concerns and alternatives which may be accepted later in deliberations.
  2. The Association frequently attends Hospital Board Meetings to primarily listen to reports and budget facts as presented. We will ask questions while pushing for accountability and logic in the expenditures for Weems Hospital operations. We hope Commissioners will finally take the CCFC’s suggestion to enter into a more sensible and successful risk-sharing partnership with Sacred Heart Hospital. This can cap the county’s liability and provide a long-promised new facility, supported by the existing hospital tax, and which may be more centrally located for all residents of Franklin County.
  3. The CCFC constantly researches best ideas and business practices, sharing them with County Departments and Constitutional Officers.
  4. We have been very involved in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Our county’s small voting size precludes us from securing some resources that bigger counties achieve. As CCFC president, I have personally spoken to Senator Rubio and with a representative in Senator Nelson’s office (among others) to discuss innovative and long-term solutions to specific challenges our county has.
  5. We expect (sadly not always successfully) that public meetings be held with decorum and respect toward the citizenry. We ask that the public be heard before a vote is held on agenda items. (The county currently enforces a three minute limit for each spokesperson’s public comment only at the beginning of each meeting.) We ask that public comments be heard and spokespersons be respected on agenda items before a Commission vote is taken and action implemented as was done in the past.
  6. At budget time, we are there early and often, sometimes incurring the ire of a few Commissioners who don’t like our good business suggestions and review. We are also there as often as possible at issues workshops, hearings and preliminary presentations.
  7. We often engage Federal and State representatives who can and will take our messages and good business suggestions back to county leadership using alternate messaging.
  8. We reach out through emails such as these and contribute Letters to the Editor and Guest Columns on a frequent basis. We receive and appreciate taxpayer feedback from many people who call, write or just spread our words on behalf of good government when taxpayer voices need to be heard.
  9. The CCFC continues to work with law enforcement on issues of suspected public corruption. We work with the Property Appraiser on issues of questionable assessments and exemptions that may amount to criminal fraud. We work with Constitutional Officers to continually present positive, alternative, good business methods and alternatives to help keep Franklin County taxes under better control.
  10. We engage professionals (lawyers, investigators, additional accountants) to further our mission of good, honest, representative government for Franklin County.
  11. CCFC built, maintains and operates an independent website which may be found at ABetterFranklin.com. We incur substantial mailing and other expenses to help bring taxpayers the news, behavior, decisions and actions of Franklin County Commissioners, elected Constitutional officers and other leadership.

Annually, we reach out to the community at large for help in meeting the financial challenges of continuing our work.

Many members support us with dues payment of $100 or more to ensure our continued success. But we will successfully and carefully put into action whatever you can contribute (perhaps $25, $50, $75) which will allow our year-round work to continue. We need your financial help to ensure that good government in Franklin County can and will become a reality.

Please support our important work efforts made on your behalf by putting your membership dues contribution in the mail today! Make your check payable to the CCFC and mail it to P.O. Box 990, Eastpoint Florida 32328 while it is top of mind.

(Dues are not deductible for income tax purposes)

Thank you for your generous support.

Sincerely,

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

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