Commissioner Joanna Bryan asked months ago for the travel and expense accounting for all the commissioners in an honest transparent effort to determine not only what the real costs are but who they are going to and inevitably a justification for all the out of county expenses. In other words, what did we get out of this cost?
When we send a commissioner or county representative to a function like the Florida Association of Counties, are we getting what we paid for and what did the investment bring back to the county besides a fake smile, hot air and a fun trip for a public servant? The request was finally answered at the last commission meeting with alarming costs that we have paid and learned that the accounting system needs a little tweaking to accurately tell the public specifically where our money went. Mrs. Sherry Herring seemed to have her hands tied by existing procedures that made her task difficult if not impossible at best as she tried to explain in the meeting. If we have improper procedures, wonder was has been happening or missed in the past?
Historically, Gulf County took few if any trips and was NEVER involved with the Florida Association of Counties or any other Associations. We have all been told that it is important to spend these dollars to send our Representatives to make sure our community is recognized and not left out of the mysterious “Pots of Money” being passed around. It has been several years, thousands of our dollars and we can see no monetary return of one dollar let alone the hypothetical “Pots of Money”. We would be the first to support making sure we get recognition with the State especially if you could convince us that if we spend $1,000 we will get that back plus some more. In respect to the RESTORE money, we will get money from that in spite of the trips and it may be that these trips hampered the process of receiving funds and the amount. However, when the funds do appear from whatever effort you can be assured that certain county commissioners will claim the credit when it is not theirs to claim. Typical politics by those who know how to work the system to their favor and not ours.
What it appears we are doing with the luxurious trips is providing our public servants with an open check book for vacations and an opportunity for them to advance their personal political agenda, not ours. This is more than evident by a past commissioner who wormed his way to the Chair of the Florida Association of Counties, left here in financial ruin and is now working in Tallahassee as a lobbyist. How did that help us?
Chasing “Pots of Money” is for the adventuresome and financially stable. It is not advisable if you are in the red as indicated at the last talk of the county budget and cutting back on people and services for the community. We say, “Show me the Money” these trips earned us and provide proof that the suffering our community services and reduction in people was worth it. We do not think you can. Gulf County needs to cut back its travel and expense over 80 percent. It is not necessary to travel this much and it is a proven a waste of money.
Citizens Improving Gulf County