Little vintage Dania Beach now has something lots larger towns don’t: A sky-excessive travel price range for the whole commission.
This week, city commissioners hiked their own travel budget by way of 344 percentage, from $18,000 to $80,000 — and they’ll all be traveling on the taxpayer dime.
Dania Beach is one in every of Broward’s smallest towns, with a population of 30,000. But the tour budget for commissioners in the country’s oldest metropolis now eclipses cities like Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, where the population’s method 200,000.
Thanks to Tuesday’s vote, the mayor and each commissioner can now spend $sixteen 000 on travel for the 12 months. The preceding allotment changed into $3 six hundred apiece.
Dania Beach resident Jack Dennison said he turned outraged, calling the supersized price range a slush fund with little to no duty.
“I think it’s crazy,” he said. “I don’t mind spending cash, but it wishes to be justified.”
Initially, Dania’s commissioners planned to increase the full tour price range to $one hundred,000. They agreed to decrease it to $eighty 000 after the mayor complained the unique quantity was over the top in the quit.
“We’re asking for $eighty 000 for travel for a metropolis the dimensions of Dania Beach,” Mayor Lori Lewellen stated earlier than Tuesday night time’s vote. “This seems egregious. It seems excessive.”
Here’s how it breaks down: Each commissioner gets $10,000 a yr for their journey.
And in a rare circulate, commissioners additionally gave themselves another $6,000 a year for the journey as part of their position as board individuals of the metropolis’s Community Redevelopment Agency — a perk most cities in the course of Broward County don’t provide.
“Most other cities do not have a separate [CRA travel] price range,” Lewellen stated for the duration of Tuesday’s meeting.
Vice Mayor Lauren Odman and Commissioners Bill Harris and Tamara James defended their decision to amp up their travel price range, pronouncing the meetings they attend will assist them in making higher decisions as elected officers.
Said Odman: “We are so uninterested in protecting our requests for schooling as electeds. This board desires to retain to do higher for our residents.”
Commissioner Chickie Brandimarte stated she doesn’t plan to tour as lots as her colleagues at the dais, but she voted for the growth.
“I don’t see why we’re arguing over a price for continuing training,” she said. “The those who elected us believe us to realize what’s pleasant.”
The commissioners additionally supersized their individual price range. That went from $6,000 in keeping with the commissioner to $10,000 a year, a sixty-seven percent increase. Taxpayers might be choosing up the $50,000 tab for that too.
The idea surpassed 4-1, with the mayor casting the lone no vote.
Here’s how Dania stacks up against Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and Hallandale Beach in travel and price budgets for elected officers.
In Fort Lauderdale, each commission member gets travel finance of $5,397 to wait for conferences and meetings. The mayor gets a yearly price allowance of $6,000 even as the commissioners get $three six hundred.
In Hollywood, the mayor and commissioners get $1,857 apiece for the journey each yr and $679 each for fees.
In Hallandale Beach, each commission member gets a tour budget of $nine 000 for the year. They additionally get $6,000 12 months every to cowl charges for local travel in the tri-county region. Each commissioner also gets $500 to cover miscellaneous expenses for the 12 months.
Unlike Dania Beach, none of those three cities has a separate price range for CRA travel.
An experience to Hawaii is subsequent at the horizon for three elected officers from Dania.
The mayor may be flying to Honolulu at the end of June to wait for the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting. Also tagging along: Commissioners Harris and James.
Lewellen’s trip will be the most inexpensive at $three, three hundred. Harris plans to spend $3,500. And James has asked $five 000 to cowl her journey prices.
“I’m going,” James said. “Commissioner Harris is going. The mayor is going. I find it offensive and insulting [to explain my travel requests].”