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Longboat Key Wed Sep 2, 2009 5 years ago

Consultant fees debated

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by: Kurt Schultheis Managing Editor

Commissioner Gene Jaleski wants consultants costs to be cut across the board in the 2009-10 fiscal-year budget.

In an e-mail exchange with Town Manager Bruce St. Denis, Jaleski said he wants St. Denis to reduce consultant costs that rose from $1.7 million last year to $2.5 million in the current fiscal year.

“If we could curb this amount by half of 1%, we could place two additional police officers on staff to increase our already remarkable level of public peace-of-mind,” Jaleski wrote in an e-mail to the town manager dated Aug. 28. “I believe that it has been shown that simply throwing money at the government is no substitute to intelligent and diligent cost controls.”

St. Denis responded to Jaleski’s concerns in an e-mail that same day, explaining that the recent increase in consultant activity “is related to additional work within the beach fund for the sand search, permitting for the upcoming beach project and a spike in utility work.”

The money used for those consultant costs, St. Denis wrote, “cannot be diverted to the general fund for use unless the Town Commission makes a policy decision to take a profit or payment in lieu of taxes from the utility.”

But Jaleski disagreed with St. Denis’ assessment of consultant fees in an e-mail dated Sept. 1.

Jaleski wrote that although he is concerned about how the town spends money in the general fund, the money in each town account comes from tax dollars.

“When I asked if we might reduce the $2.5 million we spend on consultants, I was seeking to lower taxes across the board,” Jaleski wrote. “I thought our workshop (which was held Thursday, Aug. 27) was about the town budget and how we might reduce the cost of government, everywhere.”

The commission will discuss the budget for a first reading and public hearing at its Monday, Sept. 14 regular meeting.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at kschultheis@yourobserver.com.

 

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