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Library expansion can house town hall

February 1, 2012
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

We are rather new residents to FMB and just love it here. The recent discussions about the new town hall referendum have caught my attention. I have followed the new library expansion project the past few years and, with that in mind, I decided to play a little devil's advocate here.

First let me say a referendum for any expenditure that will have an impact on our tax dollars is always a good idea, we should do it more and hopefully will in the future. The library should have had one, but they decided a course of saving as opposed to taxing their way to their end, even though we all should understand that for any taxable entity to "save" means they must put away unused budgeted funds in a financial account to save it.

So here is where I had my first question. Who is watching over our taxable entities and making sure their budgets are sound and reasonable? To me any taxable entity should be held accountable by audits to prevent such entities as to present budgets that are filled with "pork" only to stash the excess monies away in a "savings" account for future growth. Why the library was allowed by county and town officials to continue to build such huge reserves and not forced to cut their budgets back to a reasonable level is beyond me! The taxpayers should have been made aware of such budgets and, if they were, they should have not been complacent and requested state audits to verify where their tax dollars were going.

Going forward I am confident that as residents we will pay a bit more attention to where our money is going; we can thank the library board for that. I think we can also thank the Library Board for building such a huge addition that can serve all the residents, children, adults, grandparents and our town council. As Peter Reid pointed out in both The Sand Paper and The Fort Myers Beach Observer's letters to the editors last week, the Library will now be large enough to act as both a resource for books and learning and a town hall, now how efficient would that make FMB?

As far as the current referendum, it should fail as currently submitted. If they were to present a case for a new town hall it should also include sound estimates for all aspects of all cost to the taxpayer, not a $7 million blank check. We all know that if it is there, officials will fund a justification to spend it, and those who might spend it may not even be in such a capacity now as we know town council is always changing. Once the council has an estimate for each option it should then submit that proposals along with a commitment to stay within a capital expense budget for such expenditures. As mentioned above I implore the town council to also include in your search for a meeting hall and office the new and highly efficient library building.

Maybe it is not a bad time to have an "Issues & Referendum" question on the November ballot so all future projects, especially those courting taxpayers money would have to be supported by the voters.

Ed Wilson

Fort Myers Beach



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