Wellington owns 70 acres for which it has no use and has leased it to a farmer. The inconvenient truth is that this administration not only forgot to advise the property appraiser of a change of address, but also either forgot or did not know that the village had to apply for an agricultural exemption on the land. It cost taxpayers an extra $125,000, and no one has been held accountable.
The village also spent $5 million to go into the office rental business. With certain specific exceptions, the Florida Constitution forbids municipal governments from engaging directly or indirectly in private commercial ventures for profit and restricts them to participating only in public services and governmental activities.
Acquiring 70 acres to sell to developers clearly violates the law, and in an attempt to circumvent the intent of the law, the administration claims that the leased office building will be used to house future municipal offices — like the “taj mahal” that now houses the administration is not big enough. If Wellington needs an even larger staff to conduct affairs, how much higher will taxes be in the future to support a Titanic-sized administration?
Rather than more land, more offices and more personnel, perhaps a better idea would be a leaner government that is more efficient. This administration spent $175,000 on meals and refreshments, and according to the inspector general, $30,000 was not spent on “official business.”
Actually, unless this administration is in the catering business as well, perhaps the entire $175,000 is waste that could be cut from the budget. There are 30,000 Wellington taxpayers. Each of them could have been fed three meals a day for a year on the money this administration spent on “refreshments.”
As consumer prices continue to rise, especially for necessities, villagers may be less willing to pay for refreshments for this administration. Perhaps a good strategy for this administration will be to get out of the real estate business, snack at home and lower taxes next year.
Frank J. Morelli, Wellington