I have repeatedly asked the mayor and city commissioners in public forums to describe how they distinguish between essential and non-essential services, and I can’t get an answer. When money is tight, taxpayers deserve to know which budget items are more important than others. Commissioner Adam Frankel is the only one of the five elected officials who has engaged in a dialogue with me when I ask these questions.
The mayor bragged at a June City Commission meeting about the hard work he and his fellow commissioners put into “priority-based budgeting.” The document based on this work assigns over 200 spending items to four “quartiles” — or priorities — of relative importance.
Referencing this document at a recent City Commission meeting, I noted how spending for special events downtown, the Teen Center, and free kids’ out-of-school activities are in the higher Priority 1 and Priority 2 categories, and that some spending requests from the police chief and the fire chief were at the bottom, in Priority 4.
When I asked why did the mayor and commissioners think these specific Priority 1 and 2 items were more important than what the police and fire chief wanted, guess what they said? Nothing.
I believe that public safety is more important to Delray Beach residents than over $200,000 for the Teen Center and over $300,000 for out-of-school activities.
When I made a public records request for any documents at City Hall that identify essential and non-essential services, or used other words to that effect, both the city manager and city attorney said that there are none. What are your views on all this, Mayor McDuffie?