Does ‘no meetings’ equate to ‘no work’? Commission says no

The Brevard Board of County Commissioners hasn’t met this month. And it won’t until July.

It might rile some taxpayers to see their elected commissioners, who each gross $58,308 a year – or $4,859 a month – get paid for one of those months without meeting to pass ordinances or approve rezonings. That’s what they were elected to do, right?

But officials say that doesn’t mean the county commission is on vacation this month. “‘No meetings’ doesn’t mean it’s time off,” Christine Furru says. “It means it’s time to catch up.”

Furru is the constituent service director for District 3 Commissioner John Tobia, of Grant-Valkaria, who represents the South Beaches and the town of Melbourne Beach. Tobia said he is keeping his staff busy by:

• Helping as he reviews budget proposals for fiscal 2019-20.

• Going over proposed referenda for the November 2020 ballot.

• Looking at alternative designs for the county’s current logo, which has drawn concern from groups representing the visually impaired.

“There is zero time for vacation on my schedule for June,” Tobia said. “And the staff is busier now than in the rest of the year.”

The other four commissioners couldn’t be reached for comment. But most were meeting with constituents, their aides said.

“While there are no board meetings, it doesn’t necessarily mean the commissioners are not in their offices, doing ‘commission-related’ things, nor that their staffs are hanging out on the beach somewhere,” County Spokesman Don Walker added.

Walker said his research suggests Brevard commissioners started the tradition of taking a June break from meetings back in the 1990s and have carried the practice forward ever since. That provides County Manager Frank Abbate time to meet with department heads, who prepare PowerPoints on their budget requests in advance of commission reviews in July.

“The county manager’s calendar is chock full of budget meetings throughout the month of June,” Walker said.

Budget workshops continue through summer, he said, as it has to be adopted by Sept. 30. The new fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

All this doesn’t mean individual commissioners can’t take vacations in June, Walker said, provided they schedule it.

Meanwhile, commissioners can be reached at their individual district offices. Their addresses and phone numbers can be found in Brevard County’s Web Portal at www.brevardfl.gov.

Leave a Comment