Towns, cities and counties across Florida recently wrapped up their fiscal year 2020 budgets. Highland Beach passed its own budget on Sept. 19 by a 4-1 vote, with myself, Commissioner Evalyn David and Mayor Rhoda Zelniker and Vice Mayor Greg Babij supporting the initiative following weeks of review and two public hearings.

As one of those supporting the budget, I like that the Town Commission did not back into this budget; in other words, declare that taxes would not go up and then slash and burn its way through every line item until it fit that preconceived political notion. That was the mantra for some previous commissions, kicking the can down the road until some other commission would have to deal with operational realities. 

From day one this budget was designed to meet clearly articulated needs: to improve the efficiency of town operations, maintain high-quality levels of service in the Building and Zoning departments to enforce our codes, retain well-qualified administrative department and management heads and support our hardworking employees.

The Finance Department receives a badly needed update to our financial software which will extend to other select departments and support the work of our Financial Advisory Board. The budget keeps intact the library functions, the local post office and provides infrastructure maintenance and equipment for our water plant.

Our accredited Police Department receives new personal protection firearms and a new vehicle, with the old vehicle being repurposed for other use. The budget also funds the fire-rescue agreement with Delray Beach to continue high levels of public safety at an acceptable increase of around 5%.

“Working to protect our unique sense of place,” which appeared on every budget presentation, served to remind everyone in the town what we are trying to achieve through our strategically formed budget.

I was very pleased to vote for this budget and hope this purpose-driven approach will serve as a template for future budget discussions.

Barry L Donaldson

Commissioner, Highland Beac

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