I understand that Commissioner Jess Santamaria joined the tea party. I wrote the following email to him and am awaiting his response since he vigorously supports the creation of the OIG (Office of Inspector General).
I respectfully submit the following for your consideration:
1. You announced during a county meeting that the OIG would be funded by a maximum of ¼ of one percent of the value of a building permit for public works. In fact the maximum funding is whatever the County Commissioners decide and the municipalities have no say in the decision. That is truly taxation without representation.
2. The funding mechanism could be amended by agreement with all the municipalities and the county so that they participate in determining the amount of funding to be allocated by the county and municipalities to support the OIG.
3. I believe it was a mistake to put municipalities under the umbrella of the OIG. That is not the case in Miami-Dade, and we are not governed by a Grand Jury. We elected Commissioners to govern, not a Grand Jury; however, now that the OIG has been established, short of a court declaration that the OIG ordinance violates Florida law, we must deal with the consequences. Accordingly I submit:
4. The Commissioners should disclose exactly how much money has been recovered and deposited in the County Treasury due to fraud, waste, mismanagement etc. Those funds should be credited to the funding requirements of the governmental entity that paid out the funds.
5. OIG reporting that it has prevented thousands of dollars of waste is like saying the stimulus package has “saved” or “created” millions of jobs. Voters are entitled to the truth not political spin; also, voters are entitled to know exactly what items in what contracts the OIG disapproved? Voters want transparency.
6. I do not see how the OIG can possibly be funded by the ¼ of one percent of building permits as you promised.
- The OIG used 69% which amounted to $1,272,558 [roughly $1.3 million]. The County Commission allocated $1,844,662 [roughly $1.8 million] to the OIG. According to the OIG, to continue functioning, it will need $3,299,643 [roughly $3.3 million]. This represents a 260% increased burden on taxpayers in one year.
- If the OIG is to be funded by ¼ of one percent of all government contracts, this means in order to fund the OIG, government would have tospend $1,319,857,200.00 [roughly $1.3 BILLION] in government contracts.
- The total County budget for all departments for one year is $3,925,196.649 [roughly $3.9 BILLION]. This would mean that funding the OIG would consume about 1/3 of the entire County budget. The fact is that there will not be enough government contracts to fund the OIG and taxpayers will be funding the OIG.
7. I submit that the funding for the OIG should be reduced to lessen the burden upon taxpayers and the goal should be for the OIG to be self funded as you promised.
8. The authority of the OIG to revisit contracts should be prospective and not retroactive for 10 years. The cost to administer these retroactive audits is expensive and the financial rewards are not likely to be worth the effort. The statute of limitations on many of the crimes that might be discovered is four years. Going beyond the Statute of Limitations is for strictly financial gain, and even then the entities who contracted with the government may no longer be in existence or solvent, especially in this economic environment.
9. The OIG should not be permitted to attend negotiations by municipal officials. I believe this asking for a legal challenge that can be avoided by simply requiring the contracts be audited by the OIG. The Inspector General will offer guidance and suggestions, and will prevent waste before the funds are committed to the project. If the IG discovers fraud, the matter would be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency. The end result is the same, but by removing the IG from the deliberation process, I believe a claim that the county has violated the Home Rule provisions of Florida law would be avoided.
10. Given the way that the present OIG ordinance is drafted, I support the officials on the Wellington Village Council who voted in favor of the lawsuit challenging the illegal tax assessed by the County Commission on Wellington. These representatives have endured personal attacks suggesting that they are dishonest and therefore do not want oversight. This kind of criticism is despicable and is not worthy of anyone’s consideration. I urge you to speak out against such baseless criticism, since I know that you share my belief that public officials such as yourself are serving their constituents honorably. I have railed against the untrue and unwarranted attacks on your good character. I urge you to do the same for the officials who are being slandered because they object to the funding mechanism under the existing OIG ordinance.
11. I cannot support Mr. Greene in his bid for the Wellington Council because of his support for the OIG and opposition to the law suit; however, I believe an amendment to the OIG ordinance can cure all of the issues that I have raised.
If you would like to discuss these issues with me, I would be pleased to doso; however, I understand that your schedule is full and I am still studying for the Florida Bar Exam. I trust that you will give due consideration to my concerns as one of your supporters and constituents.
Frank J. Morelli
915 Cindy Circle Ln
Wellington, FL 33414