I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.
Saturday, March 5, 2016
Why Are We Being Asked to Pay FSBA Dues ($21,766 Yearly) Four Months Before they are Due?
It is a very simple question that will be asked at this Friday morning's special workshop.
My AAA membership runs through July 1st, I pay the renewal at the end of June.
My wife's magazine subscription expires at the end of may, so I pay the renewal in early to mid May?
Who in the heck pays a yearly membership renewal four months early? Why are we being asked to pay FSBA's exorbitant invoice four months early this year??
I have a sneaking suspicion it is because there is a bill that has already passed overwhelmingly in the House and is on the Special Order Calendar for coming Tuesday in the Senate which would overhaul the way FSBA collects dues statewide.
SB 1426 (HB1155) -- Sponsored in the House by Eric Eisnaugle, Sponsored in the Senate by Kelli Stargel and Co-Sponsored in the Senate by our own Sen. Don Gaetz--will take effect upon becoming law and it will allow individual board members the option to "opt-out" of paying their individual portion of dues to membership organizations such as FSBA.
I have passionately championed the concept of this bill over the last two years in Tallahassee, locally, and statewide because business as usual and the status-quo must be challenged here! FSBA joined the unions and other special interests recently, suing the state, the Governor and the Legislature challenging duly enacted legislation that benefitted 70,000 poor, primarily minority students. They were using taxpayer money to fight Tallahassee leadership over OUR TAXPAYER MONEY. It is ridiculous!
Not only this, but FSBA has been unresponsive to conservative ideas put forth by conservative board members like me for a decade---and they charge a literal fortune for dues, collecting more than $1.2 Million in Taxpayer money yearly just for base level dues membership from School Boards around Florida.
Then, to add injury to insult, every other training and professional development conference they offer comes at an additional charge to taxpayers. Gravy over the top, at your expense, Mr. Taxpayer.
Some training (yearly ethics training) is offered for free by other School Board associations in Florida--yet the FSBA continues to charge their MEMBERS $155.00 each to receive their
Enough is enough and individual constitutional officers need to be able to decide individually whether or not to fund such frivolous spending. I do not wish to remain a member of FSBA, I want my portion of the dues withheld. This law that is on the cusp of passing in Tallahassee will allow this accommodation for individual board members like me.
Let's face it, other constitutional officers already enjoy this freedom of choice in advocacy--why shouldn't we? Florida Property Appraisers have two state associations from which to choose, and in the Republican dominated Florida Legislature, Progressives and Liberals are given the autonomy to direct their individual taxpayer funded association membership dues to liberal and progressive associations. Individual Board members should enjoy this same level of autonomy.
So, naturally the one organization that enjoys a cozy, taxpayer funded monopoly wants to keep things the way they always have been--partially because this new law will cut into their revenue AND also because this legislation does something that is desperately needed: It forces FSBA to open up their books for inspection and to disclose what they are spending all of this taxpayer cash on!!
With the bill so close to becoming law--It is not right for FSBA to ask districts to pay their invoices 4 months early to apparently thwart the legislature's intent...
Our entire school board budget in Escambia County is under $40,000 dollars for five members, so this $21,766.00 is a huge chunk of our entire yearly budget for all board activities to include travel, conference participation, and professional development. I want to hold my portion back and direct a portion of it to different professional development opportunities and the rest I want to put back into the general fund. I'm a fiscal conservative and I do not want to, nor do I ever or will I ever, condone this sort of wasteful spending!
This week, depending upon what transpires Tuesday in Tallahassee and Friday morning right here in Pensacola, could be explosive.
This week will be interesting!