|Posted by Anne Siren on March 29, 2013 at 3:10 PM|
By Judy Wilson
Deerfield Beach – Mayor Jean Robb made her first move to bring work and wages back to city employees Tuesday night. Soon after being sworn in, Robb pulled a tree-trimming contract from the agenda and said, “These are things our workers used to do . . . it is incumbent on our city manager to look at these people and bring them back.”
Two years ago the city laid off 106 employees, most of them maintenance workers, citing budget constraints. Re-assigning the work to city crews will cost $250,000, City Manager Burgess Hanson said, while the pending contract with Complete Property Services is for $93,000. Hanson reminded the commission they had made the decision to privatize some services.
The contract is for tree trimming on Powerline Road which Hanson said could be dangerous work for the employees and raises workman’s comp issues. “Some of these trees have not been cut in five years . . . . It is more efficient to get it done now,” the manager said.
The mayor countered saying, “It is important to take care of our own . . . it is a small price to pay for our residents to work here.”
Commissioner Bill Ganz said the function was privatized at a “tremendous savings . . . we need to spend taxpayer’s dollars wisely . . . right now we need to be responsible.”
Commissioner Ben Preston said the commission should look at “transitioning and restoring jobs as finances improve, and Vice Mayor Joe Miller pointed out the trees must be trimmed before hurricane season. “I wouldn’t want anyone other than an arborist out there,” he added.
A motion to approve the contract with Complete Property Services was passed 3-2 with Preston and the mayor casting the ‘no’ votes and urging Hanson to come to the next meeting with a progress report on reinstating the workers.
Earlier in the meeting, Robb, who won a very tight election race, took the gavel saying she was “humbled” to have been chosen to serve. She also brought to the podium her special guests, former vice mayor Don Thomas, former mayor Oren Woodward and former mayor and county commissioner Sylvia Poitier, all of whom provided brief glimpses of the city’s political history.
Woodward retired his position 33 years ago when Robb was first elected mayor. Thomas was vice mayor at the time and Robb ran against him. Tuesday, Thomas was still the graceful loser saying “I think the best person won . . . Jean belongs to the City of Deerfield Beach.”
Poitier, who served on the commission before and after Robb’s terms in the 90s spoke of her as “a loving friend.” She also pointed out that with 5,000 voters, District 2 can now elect a mayor. “We have the mayor now,” Poitier said “Century Village has to give it up.”
Also installed Tuesday were District 4 Commissioner Bill Ganz who ran unopposed and District 3 Commissioner Richard Rosenzweig, who lead a field of three candidates for the job.
In the rotation that selects the vice mayor, Joe Miller will serve this year; Ben Preston, next.