Recent town council candidate interviews by the staff of the Town-Crier were summarized and presented in last Friday’s edition of the newspaper. I believe Dave DeMarois is the better-qualified candidate, and the article is a fair and balanced presentation of his qualifications and views. However, the article on Tom Goltzené could have been more clear regarding his background and views, especially with his 6-year history on the town council.
Fair Road Policy — Both candidates agree that resurfaced roads are a benefit to residents. However, 511 or about one-third of the town’s land parcels are currently paying debt service on the OGEM roads. DeMarois believes that the town and district should combine available funds to pay off the remaining OGEM debt balance. This would allow all landowners to be equally treated and benefited going forward if the town borrows up to $6 million to pave additional roads. DeMarois is also conservative regarding town debt and would rather pay for additional road paving with any surplus gas tax and new sales tax funds as they are received. A portion of these same funds are also used to pay for ongoing town road maintenance and hedging, which need substantial improvement. However, Goltzené believes that the one-third of landowners who voted for the OGEM resurfaced roads should continue to pay this debt service burden even if up to $6 million in town debt is approved for additional resurfaced roads with pledged gas tax and — possibly — new sales tax revenue for debt service.
Trails — DeMarois supports the trails permit that was prepared both by the town and district over a year ago. However, this permit has not been signed so that the town can begin preparing trails with protective fences on the landowner side of canal maintenance roads throughout the town. Town management is concerned that there are questions with regard to two segments of the proposed trails — about two miles out of 30 miles — but this would not prevent immediate availability of the remaining 28 miles for trails. Even though Goltzené has been the council liaison with the RETGAC Committee, he has not supported the town going forward with the trails permit, and has doubted whether the town can afford to implement and maintain the trails system. This is a late and unsubstantiated concern given several years of discussion and preparation for the trails.
Regarding Professionalism and Decision Making — Goltzené’s actual history raises relevant background questions including personal bankruptcy, property foreclosure and the absence of property ownership in Loxahatchee Groves. Also, as a town councilman, Goltzené often makes derogatory statements regarding the water control district with little regard for facts and/or correct understanding. Even though he was challenged and invited to a publically noticed and web site video discussion of his charges and/or concerns, Goltzené declined the invitation. This is not working together or being truthful and honest with residents.
Regarding the Office of Inspector General Report (2-Year Audit) — DeMarois wants to implement the OIG’s recommendations to the town council, especially moving away from the risky and unusual structure of having all town management functions (manager, clerk, accounting/financial, code enforcement) in a single company. DeMarois also wants the town council to provide constructive oversight of town management operations as recommended in the OIG report.
Dave DeMarois will respect and listen to residents. He would appreciate your vote on Tuesday, March 14.
John Ryan, Loxahatchee Groves