Candidate for Margate City Commission Voices Opinion published in Margatenews.net
Candidate for Margate City Commission Voices Opinion
September 09, 2014 / By Anthony Caggiano
Margate City Commission Candidate, Anthony Caggiano, said his agenda is to make Margate a better place to live while watching the bottom line. Caggiano is running against incumbent commissioner, Le Peerman, and CERT's Eddie DeCristofaro in the November election. Following is an opinion piece Caggiano submitted to MargateNews.net. ________________ I was asked two serious questions the other day, “Why should I vote for you?” and “What makes you any different from who we have there now?” In a nutshell, that is what running for office should be all about. What difference do I think I can make. I am thrilled that City is considering reducing property taxes in this budget. But, is this the right time? Most recently, the City of Margate is talking about buying a new fire truck and rescue vehicle for the City of Coconut Creek at a cost of over $820,000 at the most recent budget workshop. Margate has provided fire rescue services to Coconut Creek since 2000, through a series of 5-year contracts, but the end of the most recent contract is fast approaching and Coconut Creek has yet to renew. Talks for new equipment should only be addressed once Coconut Creek renews, because if we buy this equipment and they decide to go a different route, it will devastate our City. Where is the common sense for doing things in the correct order? Why not ten year contracts? Margate needs another voice on the Commission who understands how business should be done. Margate doesn’t have bags of money lying around to absorb expensive mistakes. My opponent [Peerman] spearheaded the effort to make City workers who are in unmarried domestic partnerships eligible to receive health insurance paid for by the City and ultimately you the taxpayer. The cost to you, the taxpayer is $10,562 per additional person, not an insignificant amount of money. Not one single city worker or union member asked for this benefit, past City Manager Jerry Blough stated at a City Commission meeting on May 7th. My opponent was forced to admit to asking for this to be pushed through. Pushing through her personal agenda, on your dime. As a general principle, I am not against anyone having health insurance. But again, I don’t see bags of money lying around. The past City Managers estimate that this new benefit will cost the City anywhere between $105,000.00 to $158,000.00. Estimate? More like guesstimate, because nobody really knows how many people will take advantage of it. As your City Commissioner, I will not ask taxpayers to sign a blank check to further my personal agenda. Another lost opportunity for my opponent to show leadership, or at least pay attention, came to light recently when the Office of Inspector General (OIG) determined that the Margate Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), where she sat on the Board in question in fiscal years 2011-2014, failed to comply with the requirements of Florida law for the allocation and disposition of TIF (Tax Increment Financing) funds. “The Margate CRA showed a pattern of intentionally retaining excess funds.” the OIG published on July 22, 2014. The OIG stated that the City of Margate owes Broward County a debt of $2.7 million dollars. Was anyone paying attention here? And, again where are those bags full of money? We need to get our priorities straight and our economic house in order. Reducing taxes is a great idea, if we are not shooting ourselves in the foot by writing blank checks, not paying attention to the laws governing our TIF funds, and putting the fire truck before the contract. This should be common sense. I am active in this city as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Margate Chamber of Commerce, a two-term member of Margate’s Planning & Zoning Board, recently appointed to serve on the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee and have lived in this City for over a decade. I have experience as a business owner, know the value of money, and will treat your tax dollars with respect. The only agenda I have is to make Margate a better place for all of us living here, while watching the bottom line. I want to make this a city that “People Drive To and Not Through” and, also important, that I have no interest in using Margate as a stepping-stone to higher office.