Friday, October 20, 2006

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Corruption in Surfside Florida? BLOG said...

Former Surfside mayors, Tim Will and Paul Novack, were steadfast advocats for effective growth management in Surfside. In 1992, Surfside residents overwhelmingly supported a referendum to prevent a twenty-story beachfront condominium.

For more than a decade until 2004, former Mayor Novack and his family, served this small Dade County community consistently denying requests for height and density variances. Nominator Charlotte Greenbarg wrote, "Thanks to Mayor Novack, the town's zoning code has been consistently, fairly and effectively enforced." During his tenure, Novack maintained a balanced budget without raising property taxes. Our community center was never closed, we had a one-minute emergency police response time from our own police department, an under 3 minute County fire rescue response less than a half mile away in a straight line, and garbage picked up six days a week for a nominal fee.

Newcomers Mayor Charles Burkett IV with his slate of commissioners, Marq Imberman, attornies Mark Blumstein, Steven Levine, including Vice-Mayor Howard Weinberg, whose own publicity alludes connections to Sobonito, the online porn giant, defeated Tim Will in the March 2006 elections, by a slim average margin of 150 votes, out of the 1223 voter who turned out. Surfside, Florida's populace is about 5,600. De spite fervent reassurances and promises toward town preservation and lower density by Burkett, the town seems to be spiraling in the opposite direction, amidst what seems to be gross improprieties for motions out of the public eye. Rapid fire town code changes in the wake of a charette was a complete surprise to the majority of townspeople, as is the proposal of plans of a New Urbanism town design to include multi-zoning, and multi-stacking business and condos, which will undoubtedly increase town population, traffic and congestion on a barrier island with already strained and limited traffic arteries.

Surfside residents had not voted for a radical redo of Surfside, yet now potentially face a complete wipeout of existing town charter and codes including the referendum requiremements former Mayor Novak's intentionally included and was approved by the town citizen majority, to discourage overdevelopment and population crunches, by mandating a town vote for such decisions.

And de spite the Sunshine Law, it is very suspect how at least the same three out of five commission members come to the daias for their commission meetings with an allegedly pretty good idea if an issue on the agenda will or won't pass. Funny how the same three always vote the same way. These new guys started by giving a recently hired town manager, WD Higginbotham (Gainsville), hired by the old regime only two months earlierm, an unwarranted extra 30% raise without much discussion or good excuse, then firied the 35+yr tenured town attorney in favor of an expensive firm with a record of being proponents of skyscrapers and overdevelopment. See Sunny Isles! As well, this commission have permanently shut down the town's community center pool, siting high costs for repair, promising a new community center to start within six months (we estimate at least 2 years to start) and have all but seised town maintainance and code enforcement.

Who can forget the mysterious new signs that cropped up overnight, installed at the inlet of Surfside's Biscaya Island, renaming it secretly, Isle of Biscaya ,without county approval and without town resolution, -- as if these issues were the town's priorities. That is where Burkett and Weinberg live. Former mayor Novack lives there as well, but renaming the island was never an issue before these bandits moved in. They further effectuated double property taxation by re-assigning Surfside's response for fire-rescue from County to City of Miami Beach. Yet this mayor continues to site high costs for repairs as Surfside is driven to delapidation by disrepair. They populated committees and boards with their cronies who have felony records, whom double as the town goons, beating up local elderly citizens in broad daylight in Surfside streets. Cronies include alleged non-citizens, non-registered local voters, as well as giving their their chief PAC a paying job as the town's tourist director without proper public notice to interested others and by bringing in a non-certified electrician who is on Burkett's payroll in his real estate firm, to conduct an inspection of the pool condition, give us the pumped up repair cost of $150,000 in order to get the pool open again... and so the pool is declared permanently closed due to an unqualified opinion.

Surfside is facing the impending threat of overdevelopment with this mixed-zoning plan of our town for in our mainly single family town, by elected officials who misprespresented themselves nin order to get elected. Their only gane was to point fingers and twist facts about former officials for non-other than to endear themselves to the voters. Now, they protect their positions at all costs.

Surfside is in danger of losing its distinctly recognized and awarded small-town beachside character it has enjoyed since its inception in 1938.

Concerned citizens have mobiized via internet as advocates to protect themselves, and to return truth and the Sunshine Law to our community.

Link in and stay tuned to the "Corruption in Surfside Florida? BLOG.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
nemesis2 said...

Tim Will did not run for reelection in 2006. He retired after 15 years of public service to the Town of Surfside; 8 as a member or Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Committee, 4 as an elected commissioner, 1 year as Vice Mayor and two years as Mayor. Will retired having never lost an election.

Will inherited a 9 million dollar surplus from Mayor Novack's administrations and bequeathed Burkett a $12 million surplus. Time will tell how badly those funds will be squandered.

Anonymous said...

The funds have indeed been squandered. Surfside is in financial danger to say the least. The Tourism Department, the Legal Department, the Administration itself: all had major deficits and overspending and had to be surplused with reserve funds in 2007. Surfside is looking at huge debt to keep itself afloat while its political liars Burkett and Weinbeg and Imberman and Levine and Blumstein continue to deceive the public about what is going on.

Anonymous said...

Surfside officials are now telling the Police Department to violate the towns laws against short term parking. Hasidic residents from Bay Harbor and Bal Harbour find empty parking spaces in front of our residential housing (parking is limited to one hour for non residents) and they leave their cars from Sun Down Friday until Sun Down Saturday. When police are called, they tell the caller their orders were to do nothing about the illegal parking, even though the streets are posted with signs restricting the time limit. It's take all and leave no prisoners for the Hasidic invaders of this once peaceful community.

Anonymous said...

Surfside had a 14 million dollar surplus reserve. Stable town with balanced budgets. Savings for emergencies. Savings for future projects. That was 2006. Then Mr. Burkett and Mr. Weinberg and Mr. Imberman and Mr. Levine were elected. Now in 2008 half of the savings reserve has been squandered, down the drain with nothing to show for it. Where did it go? The town had bigger annual budgets in these last two years than ever in any two years ever and in addition to the fattest annual budgets it also mismanaged itself into wasting away half of its long saved reserves! Red ink in Surfside is becoming a tidal wave. Taxpayers deserve an investigation and audit. Who is getting all that money? Where has it gone?

inkit said...

The only economy that's good in Surfsid these days is the vendor of RED INK who sells to Surfside Town Hall. Florida community economic disaster brought on by errors, poor decisions, crazy political schemes, and deceiving residents. New officials took a financialy solid city and drove it into the ground in less than three years. Surfside 2008 financial crisis. Departments bleeding red ink. Numerous operational deficits being temporarily covered with surplus reserve savings built up over many years. Town in financial nosedive. Mayor and officials looking for bond issue bailout. Full court press PR spin soon to commence to convince residents to support the bond bailout even though it will saddle taxpayers with higher taxes and debt for generations.

Anonymous said...

Surfside 2008 with officials like Charlie Burkett and Howie Weinberg the only conclusion can possibly be that the municipality has to get a full forensic audit and a complete audit and analysis of whether their new zoning ordinances comply - or not - with the comprehensive plan and state and regional policies about growth management - or instead do the laws these guys are pushing and passing only about private profit at the public expense?

Anonymous said...

Yep the spin is one thing. The paid for preferential treatment is another thing. The money flow is another thing. They are buying their way into infamy. But the financial facts are the facts and they will never go away. Surfside Florida deficits and public irresponsibility. Attorney General and Inspector General and State Attorney and Ethics Commission and examinations and investigations and reviews and audits are what happens

Anonymous said...

Surfside property taxes, service fees could spike
Property owners might see higher a tax rate and service fees next year.
Posted on Fri, Sep. 12, 2008
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Surfside residents could see a hike in property taxes and service fees, including the cost of garbage pick-up, recycling and sewer fees.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Surfside town commission voted 3-2 to approve a proposed tax rate of $4.732 for every $1,000 of a property's value, an increase of 11 percent from the current rate of $4.25.

Also at Tuesday's meeting, fireworks erupted after several residents complained about the town's plan to finance a $16.5 community center by issuing bonds. Voters would have to approve the bond in a November referendum.

''You do what you can do with the money that you have,'' said Philip Namiech. ``We don't have money for $16.5 million. Maybe we only have $5 or $7 million. So let's build something for $7 million.''

Surfside, which won't collect as much in property taxes because of the slowing real estate market and statewide property tax reform, will experience an 11 percent decline in its tax base, according to finance director Martin Sherwood.

''Surfside lost $41 million in property assessments this year because of Amendment 1, which allowed most homeowners to increase their homestead exemption and pay less in taxes,'' he said.

Sherwood said under the proposed tax rate, a homeowner with an assessed value at the town's average of $293,423, taking the standard $50,000 homestead exemption, will pay about $1,152 in municipal taxes. Other taxes come from Miami-Dade and the local school district.

''This amount results in an annual average household savings of $210 as compared to last year,'' Sherwood said.

To make up for the revenue shortfall, residents will see increased fees for services.

Collection and recycling will go up by 59 percent, to about $23 per month for a single-family home. Water fees will go up by 41 percent, to about $15 per month. Sewer charges will go up 37 percent to $4 per month and storm water fees will more than double to $5 per month for a single-family home.

Mayor Charles Burkett, who voted against the proposed tax rate, said he nonetheless supports raising service fees, noting it will cost the town more to provide water and services to its residents during the next fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

The proposed preliminary budget of $9.7 million represents an increase of 1.2 percent over last year's budget of $9.6 million.

Commissioner Elizabeth Calderon, who sided with Burkett, said the town should be looking for other ways to cut spending.

''If we're not taking in as much money as we did last year, we should not be spending as much,'' she said.

But Commissioner Howard Weinberg disagreed.

''We're No. 1 [in Miami-Dade County] in lost property tax revenues, and in order to have the same level of service we're used to, we need to raise our taxes,'' he said.

Regarding the community center, several residents raised concerns over the $16.5 million price tag.

''You've already knocked down the community center, and now we're voting on a way to fund it?'' said Brett Ellis. ``Something is backward here, and I think a pool and snack bar is what we really need.''

But other residents, however, disagreed.

''I don't live in Overtown; I live on a beach community in Florida,'' said Richard Iacobacci, who said he's waited years to enjoy a new center with his children. ``I want my damn community center, and it's up to this commission to give us that.''

Anonymous said...


''I don't live in Overtown; I live on a beach community in Florida,'' said Richard Iacobacci, who said he's waited years to enjoy a new center with his children. ``I want my damn community center, and it's up to this commission to give us that.''


Anonymous said...

Howard Weinberg verbatim at Surfside Town Meeting 2008 between 7 an d8 PM: The cost of the proposed new community center will be between 250 - 350 dollars per year for residents.


The bond issue will cost many many residents many times that amount. And the bond issue revenue will never be enough to finish this grandiose project.

Anonymous said...

Objective factual outside review.
Charles Burkett and Howard Weinberg and Marc Imberman promised to lower taxes and increase efficiency. So what did they decide for the Surfside budget for the coming year?

Property taxes up 11% for 2009
Sewer bills up 37% for 2009
Water bills up 41% for 2009
Garbage bills up 59% for 2009
Stormwater bills up 114% for 2009
Tens of millions of dollars in debt on the way, sooner than taxpayers can imagine.