“The elevator” to TAX WASTE in Palm Beach County…

During our weekly conference call last night, local 9/12 leaders were alerted about yet ANOTHER way Palm Beach County is prepared to waste your tax money…

The Backstory:  Tallahassee evidently recently sent down an “unfunded mandate”,  calling for the administration of Florida drivers licenses by each individual county now. As such, the Board of County Commissioners has the task of designating the space for this.

Anne Gannon (PBC Tax Collector) made a case before Palm Beach County Commissioners today on why they (read: taxpayers) should approve a lease agreement for a new Lantana Service Center for this purpose.

The dilemna: The county owns vacant space already, that can be refitted for the needs of the Tax Collector… so why wouldn’t the county use it?

The argument:  Ms. Gannon pleaded that her office’s staff and management SHOULD ALL BE ON THE SAME FLOOR.  They shouldn’t “have” to use an “ELEVATOR”… to get government work done.

My conservative gut-reaction: Are you KIDDING?  Taxpayers are being asked to pull out their checkbooks, for a 10-year projection of $8.7 Million in rent & capitol improvements… NEARLY $3 MILLION ADDITIONAL DOLLARS… because the employees don’t want to use the elevator??

If  South Florida 9/12 leaders had more notice, we could have had more folks on board today… but within 12 hours of the motion taking place, we worked quickly to inform each other in the space of the conference call, do last minute research, and some rapid texting on how to stop this from green-lighting.

Thankfully, my company let me slip out in time to speak to the chamber today. I hope I conveyed that at a time 10% of our neighbors are struggling with unemployment, the Commission members MUST be prudent with our money.

The alternative: Airport Center – our county already owns this land (why pay rent on the proposed Lantana Rd / Congress Ave site?). Although not “South County,” Airport Center would have sufficient accessibility for a majority of PBC residents, with its proximity to Southern Blvd, Okeechobee Blvd, and I-95. The projected cost is much less at $6.1 Million to renovate this property. Airport Center would also take a vacant building on our books, and put it to public use.

My final speaking point to the Board: What is the price… of  ‘convenience’? Does the BENEFIT to the taxpayer… justify the EXPENSE??


We got a “temporary” victory today – the Board carried a motion to at least POSTPONE a final vote for 2 weeks.

The South Florida 912 Project needs your help. Tuesday, April 6th, your sacrifice of time on a weekday WILL reap tangible benefits – right here where you live. You can personally help save a few MILLION dollars of our money as County homeowners and taxpayers.

If you would like to volunteer, please reply or RSVP.

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10 Responses to ““The elevator” to TAX WASTE in Palm Beach County…”
  1. Iris Iris says:

    Way to go, Doug! It was extremely short notice. I’d hoped to send a fax to Karen Marcus and wasn’t able to. You did a great job. I’ll come next mtg!

    Who voted to delay? I still can write to Karen. Let us know.

  2. Douglas Armstrong says:

    Hi Iris!

    Shelley Vana was keen to delay the vote after discussion got “spirited” LOL… Ms. Gannon was visibly upset by the direction the discussion went. Burt Aaronson, Jeff Koons, and Jess Santamaria were the most verbal in their support of using the Airport Center property instead of Lantana. Aaronson, as chair, announced that they had reached a “unanimous” decision to delay today’s vote, until the next meeting in 2 weeks.

  3. Andrew33 Andrew33 says:

    Lets put them all on the same floor of the county jail.

    • Douglas Armstrong says:

      I laughed out loud, Andrew. That’s so true, and funny… “Common Sense” is a great guiding mantra in these times, as you just have to scratch your head at the motions our elected officials make for use of our tax dollars.

  4. EdFulop EdFulop says:

    I would be there in a heart beat, but I have to work with my boss that day.

    • EdFulop EdFulop says:

      I posted this note to the Sun-Sentinel’s on-line article covering the story:

      Mrs. Gannon —

      Let’s play a little game, that I hope teaches a lesson in the process. For the sake of making the math easy for our discussion, let’s assume that the average County employee makes $36K annually as a salary — we both know that they make much more, but, like I said above, humor me please. With the county’s current budget shortfall, they would have to furlough 100 employees in order to offset your request for this renovated strip mall. Employees with spouses, children, and parents that depend on them. Through their communities, they support local businesses with their purchases, too, expanding the net effect of their unemployment outward and upward. Would you be able to look those 100 county employees in the face and say that they must be let go, so that the employees in your offices won’t have to use the elevator? Please invite me to witness that meeting — I would LOVE to hear you make that case.

      Restore Honor.


      • Douglas Armstrong says:

        Great job, Ed! I’m glad you engaged the Sun-Sentinel – frankly glad they covered the issue too. I had a meeting with Margaret, Ray, and a few other 912 members from Century Village who’ve recently joined us. They were all supportive of this, and some of them plan to join us in 2 weeks to speak up to the Commission before their final vote.

        Thanks for shooting out that letter!

  5. Wow, this is interesting.

    Something to consider…

    I was on the same page w/everyone here till I saw Anne’s assistant
    at the county meeting and I know her from Church.

    She is a financial wizard on our church board and SAVED our church in addition to many other things.

    I listened to what she said and I had a different opinion than most/all here.
    (I still agree we shouldn’t waste the money on renovations for a building we won’t own)

    What you say about the elevator’s is true but that was not her reason.

    She is actually attempting to SAVE money by cross training all employee’s.
    When you go to the tax collector, each employee will be able to service you completely.

    No more running around from line to line or even building to building for that matter.

    That means less employee’s (Less Pay, Retirement and Medical per employee)!

    I also asked about the lease vs purchase and I was told they (BCC) have allowed them to spend
    150K to date going down this path. That’s why they look so confused. I have requested records
    that I was also told they have cut their budget and staff, before asked. They even implemented their own
    Ethic’s which are stricter than any other departments.

    I will get the figures for anyone who cares to see them
    and if you’d like to thank and encourage
    Anne for Improving Government Efficiency:

    Write Anne M. Gannon a Letter:
    Tax Collector, Palm Beach County
    P.O. Box 3715
    West Palm Beach, FL. 33402-3715

    Fax Anne M. Gannon a Letter:

    Call Anne M. Gannon:

    Send Anne M. Gannon an Email:
    For web-based email users (such as comcast or yahoo) you may contact Anne M. Gannon by copying and pasting taxconta@pbcgov.org into the “To:” field in your email.


    • Iris Iris says:

      Cross-training is fine and commendable, Suzanne. But spending any money on any leased space when there is more and more County space available that can be made useable is unacceptable.

  6. Larry says:

    Hello Doug, we met at the pizza event and I am excited to be involved. If you want to know about more waste, how about the homeless facility on 45th street. there are brand new appliences, state of the art water heater system, new beds and security system and no funds to hire staff. All that money could have been spent in so many other ways or not spent at all! The old Mecca Farms area on Seminole Pratt is a money pit, bought prematurely for a private enterprise that could be turned into a shooting range right down the street from the conservation area. Markum Park and Indian river each have one that make money for their counties. Other entities lay off staff but keep their highest paid officials. this is just a small sample of the problem.

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