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Anita Moeder, Palm Coast City Council Candidate: The Live Interview

| July 25, 2016

anita moeder palm coast city council

Anita Moeder. (© FlaglerLive)

Anita Moeder is a candidate for Palm Coast City Council, District 3. She faces two other candidates: Nick Klufas and Pam Richardson.

Since its incorporation in 1999, when all five of its council seats were up for election, Palm Coast has not had an election like this year’s, when three seats are open. The council majority, in other words, is certain to turn over, with three new faces in November joining two relative newcomers: Steven Nobile and Heidi Shipley were elected only in 2014. That’s because Mayor Jon Netts, who has been on the council since 2001, is term-limited. Council member Bill McGuire resigned effective Aug. 15. And Council member Jason DeLorenzo is running for a county commission seat.

Of all the candidates running for Palm Coast City Council, only one–Milissa Holland–has held public office before. She was a county commissioner for six years. It will not only be the greenest council in 17 years. It is almost certain to be the youngest council, ending an era dominated by mostly retired council members.

This is a non-partisan election. That means all registered voters in Palm Coast, regardless of party or non-party affiliation–Democrats, Republicans, independents and others–may cast a ballot for all three seats, regardless of district.

If a candidate wins more than 50 percent in any of these races on Aug. 30, the race is over: that candidate is the winner. But if none of the candidates clears the 50 percent hurdle in the primary, then the top two vote-getters will face-off in a run-off on the general election ballot on Nov. 8.

Palm Coast council members serve four years. They’re paid $9,600 a year, $11,400 for the mayor, not including a monthly “telecommunications” allowance.

FlaglerLive submitted identical questions to all candidates, with the understanding that additional questions might be tailored to candidates individually and some follow-up questions may be asked, with all exchanges on the record. The Live Interview’s aim is to elicit as much candor and transparency as possible. We have asked candidates to refrain from making campaign speeches or make lists of accomplishments. We have also asked candidates to reasonably document any claim or accusation. Undocumented claims are edited out. Answers are also edited for length, redundancy, relevance and, where possible, accuracy. If a candidate does not answer a question or appears to be evading a question, that’s noted.

But it’s ultimately up to the reader to judge the quality and sincerity of a candidate’s answers.

The Questions in Summary: Quick Links

The Basics:

Place and Date of Birth: Lille, France, Nov. 6, 1947.
Current job: Retired.
Party Affiliation: Democrat.
Financial disclosure. Resume

1. What are your top three policy priorities that you pledge will realistically be accomplished by the end of your first term. If they cost money, how do you propose to fund those priorities?

•Number 1 fiscal review: In order to determine what we can do, we need a clear picture of the fiscal soundness of our city, its outstanding debt, its budget and current priorities. A major audit is needed for this, in particular as concerns the water department, current long term contracts and the Palm Harbor Golf Course.

Number 2 jobs: I will get aggressive about bringing new jobs to Palm Coast. We are not just a retirement community; our median age is 41. [Correction: Florida’s media age is 41. Flagler’s is above 47–FL.] Yes to more retail and more restaurants because they create jobs and are good for all our citizens but I will target companies that will offer good paying, career jobs. These are the kind of jobs that will help keep our working families here in Palm Coast. How to do this? Expand on what the Flagler County Economic Development program is doing. I would widen the search for companies by setting up an ambassador program – we have a lot of well-connected seniors here that could help us gain entry to businesses in the northeast and around the country; use them to help us approach a broad base of companies. Additionally, I would draft the council to go out and make sales calls to prospects – we are the voice and the face of Palm Coast, and I know we are all passionate about our city – who better to make the sale? Finally, have a great incentive package, one that kicks in after the company gets here, based on number of jobs created, money spent in Palm Coast, etc.

In addition, I would create a strong summer jobs program for our kids – we have between 4,000-6,000 work age kids that are off in the summer, looking for something to do. The internship programs are a good start, but they need to be broader. Also an afterschool program with jobs. We constantly hear there are lots of jobs in Palm Coast – let’s get our kids into some of these!

Number 3 people programs: A senior center keeps being brought up. See a more detailed answered on Question 14.

In addition to the need for a senior center, there is strong need for a young adult center. A place where 18-21+ year olds can hang out with their peers, safely and close to home. Programs should be offered that

• Provide social programs like basketball, movie nights, big game events
• Host job fairs at the center, providing extra help for these young adults trying to get jobs
• Offer classes in the things young people need to live day to day, money management, cooking, etc.
• Assist over-age and under-credited students in overcoming some of the obstacles that impede their progress toward a high school diploma and assists them with pursuing post-secondary employment and/or education

The needs and funding are similar to the senior center that I described above.

The city is independently audited every year, it publishes every detail of its budget and its debt, its financial reports are more accessible than any local government, and its finance director is known for devoting any time necessary to explain to constituents–or candidates–the fine print. The city has never hidden the golf course’s debts, and goes so far as to publish embarrassing monthly reports detailing that debt in line items. What would an additional audit accomplish? What are you suspecting? Without fail, almost every council member promises jobs during the campaign, and prospecting for companies is what both city and county economic development departments–expensive departments–are doing already. Are you saying you can do better as a council member? As for after-school jobs and “people programs,” your list is as expensive a list of proposals as we’ve seen, and ironically so given your concern for city finances, debt and so on. How do you propose to pay for a  young adult center (does the one near Flagler Palm Coast  High School not fit the needs)? 

The City performs an annual audit which involves the examination of the financial statements of Palm Coast by an external auditor who is independent of the organization in accordance with a reporting framework. That’s a starting point and basically looks to insure that the books balance. I want a Forensic Audit that involves auditing and investigative skills. A number of people have brought to my attention irregularities of how expenses to projects are accounted for – adding to one project to make it look worse; accounting in the water department and the found money for our new city hall.

Regarding jobs, council involvement would be in addition to what’s taking place now.  Also, as I mentioned in my previous answer, let’s tap our seniors to help connect us to companies, what better way to get entry than by a trusted (previous) employee?

I am socially progressive and fiscally conservative. The two are not mutually exclusive. I have managed groups of over 130 people and budgets of over $25 million, the push and pull is always there – be it in business or government. Funding for people programs will require re-prioritizing how we are spending money today. An example:  would trade off more trees on Belle Terre for a senior center.

Summer and after school jobs can earn their way by having the kids do real work, for the city, county and companies in the community. This is a low cost program but high in value to the community and to the kids.  Expand the flagship program that exists would be part of this.

 The center near the high school is not what is needed by our young people. I believe we need a place for the 18+ kids to be able to meet, socialize, receive training and in a safe environment. Here were my points on what is needed:

  • Provide social programs like basketball, movie nights, big game events
  • Host job fairs at the center, providing extra help for these young adults trying to get jobs
  • Offer classes in the things young people need to live day to day, money management, cooking, etc.
  • Assist over-age and under-credited students in overcoming some of the obstacles that impede their progress toward a high school diploma and assists them with pursuing post-secondary employment and/or education

 The city needs to pull together all the stakeholders, and get their help. The city can provide some financial aid for renting a facility – there are several great buildings currently empty that would make great centers.  Money for this program could come from federal, state, and local governments; special events; public and private grants; local businesses; bequests; participant contributions; in-kind donations; and volunteer hours. Working closely with our local non-profits would create a great center that is a result of true partnership.

No one in the past six or seven years mentioned the words “forensic audit” until the late Frank Meeker used them a few months ago in reference to the Supervisor of Elections office, where it may have been appropriate, considering the ex-supervisor’s ongoing felony indictment. But a forensic audit is usually conducted in conjunction with a criminal or civil case against an organization. Your implication is that serious, possibly criminal, wrongdoing is taking place. But you’re making the claim based on what “a number of people” have said–or the evidentiary equivalent of whatever was in Joe McCarthy’s breast pocket. Should a candidate for office not be more responsible with such claims, and at least have some hard, accountable evidence, before making accusations that target council and city staff? Trees cost a few hundred dollars a trunk. A senior center would run into seven figures. How can we take the comparison seriously? Can you name just one local non-profit that would be capable of providing a center as you describe for young people?

My use of the term forensic audit adds the element of investigation, not just reconciliation of accounts. This kind of an audit is not only used for criminal or civil cases but where more information is needed. I did not make accusations or imply “serious, possibly wrongdoing”, I stated that there were accounting anomalies.

2016 Election Interviews

Supervisor of Elections

Kaiti Lenhart
Kimble Medley
Abra Seay


Jim Manfre (D)
Don Fleming (R)
Larry Jones (D)
John Lamb (R)
Jerry O'Gara(R)
Rick Staly (R)
Mark Whisenant (R)
Chris Yates (R)
Thomas Dougherty (I)

Palm Coast City Council

Robert Cuff (Dist. 1)
Troy DuBose (Dist. 1)
Sims Jones (Dist. 1)
Art McGovern Jr. (Dist. 1)
Nick Klufas (Dist. 3)
Anita Moeder (Dist. 3)
Pam Richardson (Dist. 3)
John Brady (Mayor)
Milissa Holland (Mayor)
Dennis McDonald (Mayor)
Ron Radford (Mayor)

Flagler School Board

Colleen Conklin (Dist. 3)
Jason Sands (Dist. 3)
Paul Anderson (Dist. 5)
Maria Barbosa (Dist. 5)
Sharon Demers (Dist. 5)
Myra Middleton-Valentine (Dist. 5)

Flagler County Commission

Charlie Ericksen (Dist. 1)
Ken Mazzie (Dist. 1)
Daniel Potter (Dist. 1)
Jason France (Dist. 3)
Dave Sullivan (Dist. 3)
Denise Calderwood (Dis. 5)
Donald O'Brien (Dist. 5)

2. Cite three issues or concerns that in your view the city is addressing poorly or not at all, and explain how you intend to convince the council to change course.

Number 1: expenses are up, let’s raise taxes! For the past several council sessions, the city planners have been preparing us for the need to raise taxes as early as 2017. The council is discussing adding regressive taxes and fees and/or raising the millage rate but never do I hear anyone saying – let’s look at what we are doing, identify efficiencies, ways of doing things more cost effectively; for example, we spend $400,000 on legal coverage – can we find a qualified replacement for less cost? Never do I hear anyone making proposals on how else Palm Coast could raise money; for example, we have our high speed Fibernet – why not generate revenue by making this service available to resident of Palm Coast?

Number 2, people need help. Many in Palm Coast are very happy but there are others who need the city’s help. We have people in Palm Coast who are living on the edge and just can’t pay their bills. It is reprehensible that the city shuts off water for non-payment of water bills. Those who don’t pay their bill need to be reviewed on a case by case basis and payment plans put in place. Water must not be shut off.

We need to acknowledge that we have a homeless population. We need to respect them and we need to help them, if they want help. A shelter is needed in Palm Coast, one that is open year round, a place where our homeless can go, bath, eat and feel safe. The city council needs to take the lead on this and bring our community together to help them.

Domestic violence and sexual violence exist in our city and are on the rise. More help is needed for the affected women, children, men and elderly. The city council needs to proactively step up and help these people, working with local non-profits to support programs and facilities.

Extending FiberNet to residences means significantly expanding city staffing to go provide service and run the network, while a large upfront capital expansion would be needed, also requiring large sums. Would you be prepared to approve those expenses without proof of return? Are you comfortable with a city service undercutting private industry that provides the same service? The county has been fruitlessly debating a homeless shelter for years, and what shelter there was at a church in Bunnell has been scaled back. The city repeatedly asserts that it’s not in the business of social services, as the county is. Are you looking to change that policy? If so, how would you pay for a homeless shelter? And can you cite your evidence that domestic and sexual violence in the city is on the rise?

The potential income from offering high speed internet (Gigabit Ethernet) to our citizens plus being able to offer affordable broadband and the creation of new, good jobs is a win-win-win. Some cities even offer the services for free, (St Cloud Florida). This is also a way to keeps prices down through competition with the ATTs and Brighthouses and make broadband affordable in all our communities. To keep costs down, the city could run pilot programs and expand as revenues come in or look for a partner.

A city that does not look after its people and provide help when they need it, is not doing its job.

[Moeder cut and pasted the same follow-up answer provided in question 1 rather than answer the question on the homeless shelter. Regarding evidence of rising domestic abuse, she provided a link to a FlaglerLive article reflecting a 1.7 percent rise in such crimes, but that article referred to 2015’s mid-year, interim report. By year’s end, as we subsequently reported, the incidence of domestic abuse had fallen in 2015 compared to 2014, and remains significantly below where it was year after year from the early to mid-2000s. Moeder was not unaware: she also provided graphs that, while indicating a minor uptick in the three-year average from 2013-15, reflects the overall and significant decline from the past decade.]

3. Have you read the city charter? Do you think it’s due for a review? If so, by what process. What specifically would you change, add or subtract in the charter, if anything?

Yes, I have read it – The existing city charter needs a major revision. It lacks specificity and also needs to reflect changes in Palm Coast due to our growth since the charter was approved.
How to review – I would propose that a committee of citizens be formed to review and draft a revision to our existing charter. Some specifics for the charter review include:
• A review of the impact of population growth on our existing districts should be done. This would identify whether we need to redraw current districts or add districts. This would require an update to our charter.
• A key area that needs work is the definition of what the duties are of the council member, mayor and of the city manager. More details would help. Additionally, detailed duties and qualifications should be added for city attorney and city clerk.
• The city charter should include a definition of ordinances, resolutions and amendments to said – what they are, who can file and the associated process for them.
• Notation that all council meetings are public, can be watched real-time on channel 495 and that the meetings are recorded and available from the city website.

Redistricting is conducted every 10 years, as with the Legislature’s and congressional districts, the remaining items are addressed in city policies, and the city, being proud of its audio and television access to meetings, makes that access very clear on its website already. Is the charter an appropriate place for such details? Are there not more pressing ideas that could enrich or edit the charter? 

Our city charter is the basic document that defines the organization, powers, functions and essential procedures of our city government. If something is open to interpretation, it should be documented. A few additional things:

  • Specify that a redistricting report be prepared within one year of receipt by the City of the results of the census conducted by the Federal Government every ten years. Nothing herein shall prevent the City Council, by majority vote, from requesting a redistricting report at more frequent intervals if it is determined to be necessary. Specify that no waterfront, city amenities or park property owned by the City may be sold, donated or leased without specific authorization by a majority vote in a City-wide referendum.
  • Specify the length of contracts that the city council can approve
  • Specify that the City Council cannot overrule the results of a referendum
  • Specify council meeting schedule and make it easier for working people to attend (workshops NOT in the morning)

4. Palm Coast has the authority to impose a public service tax on your utility bill of up to 10 percent, and a franchise fee on utilities, which would be passed to customers, of up to 10 percent. The money may be spent at the council’s discretion. Many counties and cities around the state partially or fully levy one or both the taxes. Palm Coast considered imposing a 6 percent electric franchise fee and a 2 percent public service tax in 2012, but reversed course in the face of strong public opposition, even though the two new taxes were intended to replace the existing stormwater fee. Either of the new taxes, proponents argue, would diversify the city’s revenue stream. Either could be used to generate revenue that would otherwise have to be generated by property taxes, though the public service tax and the franchise fee are regressive in comparison. Where do you stand on either new tax becoming part of Palm Coast’s taxing structure?

I oppose these taxes. They are regressive, affecting those on fixed income or low income disproportionately. Let’s put people first and vote no to regressive taxes. Let’s review our spending, make judicious adjustments and as a last resort, increase our millage rate, which is a more equitable tax – but only as a last resort.

You have made putting people first a theme of your campaign, implying the city does not do so. Who, or what, does the city put first in your analysis? Please substantiate your answer with evidence.

The main discussions and expenditures are on infrastructure and beautification. More trees, more lights, etc. these are important but they need to be balanced with programs that help people – jobs and services. Balance business friendly with people friendly, environmental friendly and animal friendly.

5. Explain who provides ambulance and fire services in the city. Evaluate the quality of that service, including your assessment of the adequacy of fire stations and EMS, and what you would change, if anything, about it. If your proposed changes cost money, how would you pay for them?

Fire services are provided by our city Fire Department and under Fire Chief Mike Beadle, they do an outstanding job. Palm Coast has five fire stations, more than 50 employees and more than 50 volunteers. Our city fire department handles fire calls, emergency medical calls, and emergency management situations. Emergency medical calls account for close to 85 percent of their calls; and, Palm Coast firefighters hold dual certification (firefighting and EMT). Additionally, they are very active in community outreach for education on safety and fire hazards.

A review of our population demographics and response times to different parts of the city should be conducted to determine if 5 is the right number of fire stations.

There have been some discussions about making our fire department part of the county as a means to cut costs. I would support this if and only if we were guaranteed three things. 1. Our Fire Department personnel, including line management, would continue in their roles.
2. That response times would be improved.
3. That the cost savings would be significant.

Your answer reveals a surprising lack of understanding of basic emergency-response roles in the city considering the position you are seeking and how easily, at a click or two, the information is available. What is Flagler County Fire Rescue’s role in the city? What is Flagler County Emergency Management’s role?

I reread my answer and don’t understand your question. The only clarification I can add is that our City Fire Department is usually first on the spot, with Firefighters who are also trained as EMTs but that our County Fire Department sends an actual ambulance and is responsible for getting an injured person to hospital.

6. Palm Coast and the county have a sniping, at times competitive, at times antagonistic relationship, as if between fiefs. To what extent are the two elected bodies responsible? To what extent are the two government’s managers responsible? How will you help foster a less medieval relationship?

Not sure. Not being privy to the interactions I cannot provide my own report of events. I have heard that the city manager and county manager do not play well together. I have read the press on the problems and wonder how much is real and how much is exaggerated journalism.

Elected and public officials with a weakness for scapegoats are quick to blame the press for various issues. Surely you’re not looking for a head start, and on an issue that’s been at the forefront of both city and county candidates’ campaigns? Do you not see city-county relations as an issue?

I absolutely see it as an issue that must be addressed. It should be mandatory for the city manager and the county manager to get along and egos checked at the door. It should be part of their performance reviews. I also think the press sensationalizes it, but… that’s what most people like to read.  Not looking for a scapegoat…

7. Describe the dynamics of the council: who controls policy, the council or the city administration and manager? What would you change about those dynamics?

Policy is the responsibility of the City Council. Bringing forward options on how to implement and then delivering on the policy is the responsibility of the city manager. This is consistent with the city council – city manager model we have in Palm Coast. I would not change this.

8. Jon Netts’s tenure as mayor spanned half the life of the city: eight years. Ceremonial duties aside, what should the next mayor continue that Netts did best, and what approach or method should the next mayor discontinue or do differently, including parliamentary conduct during meetings? How do you hope the next mayor distinguishes himself or herself from Netts?

Mayor Netts has fostered a strong planning effort, both short and long term. It gives the city a good roadmap of what needs to be done, covering 2017 out to 2030. This must be continued by the incoming mayor and updated as our needs, technology and environment change.

The Mayor understands parliamentary procedure and uses it to keep meetings on track. He asks good questions but he is not a good listener, rarely taking into account points made by citizens at council meetings.

Mayor Netts often comments that he has made Palm Coast “business friendly”. This is certainly important but needs to be balanced with making sure Palm Coast is “citizen friendly,” “environmentally friendly” and “animal friendly”. My people programs start to address the citizen friendly aspect. Palm Coast needs to step up and enforce environmental laws to the maximum as well as setting high standards for going green. Our animals deserve to be protected – reports of animal neglect or cruelty need to be dealt with quickly and the perpetrators punished to the maximum; programs such as Trap Neuter and Release need to be widely adopted as a humane way to reduce our feral cat colonies.

Mayor Netts has driven many programs to build for our future growth. Programs such as the new City Hall, road expansions, water plants and more. While this clearly needs to continue, I would encourage the next mayor to acknowledge that we have issues that need to be addressed now:
1. People services – these are the basics: senior center, young adult center, helping our homeless, protecting victims of domestic and sexual violence;
2. Jobs – our working families need good paying, career jobs, our kids need jobs and more internships;
3. Finances – at a recent council meeting, Mayor Netts stated that the city had no debt. This is blatantly untrue; we have close to $200 million in debt. We need to stop borrowing.

Palm Coast is generally criticized for having too stringent, not too lenient, regulations regarding landscaping and being green. The city has won several awards for its green approach, and is routinely named among the nation’s Tree Cities. Where is it failing in environmental matters precisely? Can you document at what meeting and what precisely the mayor said about Palm Coast not having debt?

First. We need to keep the beautiful trees we have – when new construction goes up, the first thing they do is cut all the trees. Imagine Palm Coast Parkway, heading east to the Hammocks, without those magnificent trees. Let’s make sure they CANNOT be cut.

The city should be leading the effort for a clean environment. Solar on municipal buildings, making municipal building “foam free” zones.

Careful monitoring of our waters to make sure that companies in Palm Coast are adhering to clean standards for water, discharge, air, etc.

It was during one of the June meetings, John Brady raised the point that the city was in debt for $170M and making large interest payments. Mayor Netts responded that the city had no debt.

[Note: we reviewed the minutes of every meeting in workshop in June. None reflects either that Brady addressed the city’s debt, nor that the mayor replied that it had none. Moeder was not more specific in her answer to enable us to more precisely verify the claim, which may be true, but for now remains unsubstantiated.–FL]

9. Evaluate City Manager Jim Landon’s performance, citing strengths and weaknesses. His total compensation package is close to a quarter of a million dollars. He is seeking a raise. Would you grant it? [Note: the question went to candidates before the council’s vote rejected the request on July 19, though the question remains valid for the new council.]

It is my understanding that Mr. Landon has never had a performance review. What are his success metrics? These need to be clear so we can see how well he is doing. Clear job metrics and a performance review should be top of the list to be done by the new council, along with the financial audit. [Moeder answered the question before the publication of Landon’s first evaluation in seven years, in mid-July.]
Positive – From attending city council, it is clear that Landon manages a lot of projects which for the most part come in on time and on budget. Holland Park is a notable exception. Landon has strong project management skills and attention to detail. He has what appears to be a good team, with a relatively low turnover. But, it is unclear how much of their input he takes.

Negative – His style is arrogant and sometimes condescending when responding to questions. He is said to not play well with others (specifically the Flagler County manager). I don’t think he really listens to people.

As for a raise, he has had two already. Before giving him another – he needs a performance review. [Note: Landon had one raise in 2009. Moeder answered this question after his review was conducted and published in mid-July.–FL]

10. Palm Coast relies on the sheriff for policing. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of that contract, and tell us what specifically you would change about it. Are some areas of Palm Coast less effectively policed than others? Do you favor an independent police department for the city, now or in the near future?

In the last month, Palm Coast had over 700 police incidents – including drugs, assault, burglary, larceny and fraud. We are not seeing a crime wave but as our city has grown, so have the number of crimes. Compared to Florida communities of similar population size, Palm Coast has a crime rate that is noticeably lower than the average. This means that for comparably sized cities, Palm Coast is safer than most. The sheriff’s department is doing a good job of maintaining order, catching perpetrators and proactively working to keep crime from happening.

Flagler County Sheriffs Department provides officers in cars, on motorcycles, on horseback and in scuba gear. They have a K-9 unit. This team of law enforcement officers covering all our needs is cost effective because we share the cost of these specialized officers with other cities in Flagler. I believe having a county police force with dedicated resources to Palm Coast is the most flexible and most cost effective way to keep our city safe. Our contract with the Flagler Sheriff’s Department calls for 22 policemen to be assigned to Palm Coast. I would request more officers and yes we have to pay for them.

The crime rate in the past year has declined. What justifies more cops? How many more cops? How do you propose paying for them?

Moeder did not answer the question.

11. The current council appears opposed to a civil citation program that would lessen the penalty for a first-time marijuana possession offense in many circumstances. Without Palm Coast’s approval, the county-wide effort is most likely doomed. Where do you stand on that proposal?

I strongly support this initiative. It is an extension of what we already have in Flagler County for juveniles. A first time offender over 18 ends up with a criminal record, is unable to get school loans and must check the box on all job applications that he/she has a record – making it difficult to get work. Giving this person a break would be the wakeup call they need, without ruining their life.

Much is being discussed at the national and state levels about marijuana, many states allow medical marijuana, and some states have unrestricted marijuana laws. I support medical marijuana and will support unrestricted marijuana laws as they come to pass in Florida .

12. Code enforcement: Palm Coast is clearly the harshest enforcer among local governments, regulating such things as garbage cans in view of the street, work vans with commercial imprints on their sides parked in residential areas, and of course tall grass. The city has a fleet of enforcers, and an enforcement board that routinely levies fines on violators. Complainers to the city can remain anonymous. How comfortable are you with that regime, and what, if anything, would you change?

Code enforcement is one of the ways our city stays consistently beautiful. But, is it the right use of money and manpower to enforce? This issue, clearly defined and with alternatives, should be presented to the citizens of Palm Coast for a vote. Bringing it up in a City Council workshop does not give it sufficient exposure to know what our people want.

You would call a referendum on code enforcement? What would your referendum question be? 

It would be broader, to include how we want to spend our money and how much control we want in our lives. Code enforcement is important, it keeps much of our city beautiful and safe. Do people want to continue as we are today? I would like to hear from them.

Isn’t what public comment segments at every meeting are for? Candidates and a handful of occasional constituents aside, there’s precious little clamor in those segments for such a broad call for a referendum. If people don’t want to continue as today, aren’t they making their intentions known through elections? 

Holding two out of three meetings in the mornings is not conducive to getting citizen participation. In my conversations with our citizens, I hear them ask for change – that is what I am offering.

13. The Palm Harbor Golf Club and the city’s tennis club has been losing money since their inception while serving a relatively small number of club members. Should the two clubs stay open with city subsidies? If not, what’s your alternative?

I support Palm Coast amenities including our beaches, trails, parks, golf course and tennis club. These amenities are a key part of our high quality of life in Palm Coast. First, I will help identify programs to increase usage and revenues, particularly for the Palm Harbor Golf Course and the Palm Coast Tennis Club. A real restaurant is needed at the Golf Course, run by a real restaurant professional – the restaurant should be generating profits and helping offset the cost of the course. This is not the case today. In a conversation with the manager at the golf course, he said that they were losing money as planned, but that it was not his concern. What the heck? I will require a detailed audit of the associated financials to make sure our tax dollars are being spent wisely. I strongly believe all these amenities should be kept.

KemperSports, whose business is golf, has spent the past seven years promising to “identify programs to increase usage and revenues,” without success. How do you, as a person who has no experience running sports organizations or city parks, propose to do better? The restaurant at the golf course is run by one of the county’s most able chefs, and is actually making money: it is the golf course’s only bright spot, but it can’t carry the burden of the operation’s profitability alone. Should the city take over the restaurant? As noted above, the city publishes a monthly financial report on the golf course. What would an audit tell us that the last seven years haven’t?

I have done marketing for many years and there is much that can be done for the golf course to attract people from within our community to play there. Having events held there, getting more tournaments, creative golf programs and more for kids are some that come to mind. Palm Coast has some amazing amenities but they are hidden treasures – need more marketing, events and programs. Same is true for the BAC, an amazing service that not enough people know about. I’m not talking about big ticket advertising but a start would be better websites and social media.

Looking at the current financials the restaurant is far from making money – with less than $700 in revenue last month. The restaurant needs to do better, it needs to service the players and be a destination for citizens out for a meal. Good food, reasonable prices in a beautiful venue. A forensic audit would show that expenses and revenues are mixed up between functions at the golf course creating an inaccurate picture of the amount of loss in the golf course, versus revenue for the restaurant.

[Note: the May financial report for the Palm Harbor golf club shows restaurant revenue at $18,371, $2,248 more than projected, with year-to-date revenue $153,532.–FL]

14. The city will be expanding and modernizing its community center next year. But residents from time to time have clamored for a senior center. Do you favor building and operating a stand-alone senior center? If so, how do you propose the city should pay for it? 

A senior center keeps being brought up. Many member of our City Council roll their eyes, shrug and say that sharing the Palm Coast Community Center is fine. It isn’t.

Senior centers are not only a social hub but an important place for connecting older adults to vital community services that can help them stay healthy and independent. Senior centers can offer a wide variety of programs and services, including:
• Meal and nutrition programs
• Information and assistance
• Health, fitness, and wellness programs
• Transportation services
• Public benefits counseling
• Employment assistance
• Volunteer and civic engagement opportunities
• Social and recreational activities
• Educational and arts programs
• Intergenerational programs
With baby boomers constituting more than two-thirds of the 50+ population, Senior Centers need to evolve with new programs and opportunities for this dynamic generation of older adults.
What is needed? A permanent place for seniors to call a second home. At a minimum, space for a variety of activities and storage of gear; a kitchen; easy access; good parking.
How to get it? Our senior center could use existing, available real estate – there is no reason to wait for a new building. For example, a great location would be the old City Hall. It would meet the needs with few alterations required, and could be operational quickly.
Funding? Money for this program could include federal, state, and local governments; special events; public and private grants; businesses; bequests; participant contributions; in-kind donations; and volunteer hours. Working closely with our local non-profits would create a great center that is a result of true partnership.

Even if the city were to occupy its old city hall, that was at the cost of  $20,000-a-month rent, not including the staffing required for the center. What non-profit can you point to that would be capable, or willing, or equipped, to help run a senior center?

Good question and that’s why we need to get all the stakeholders together and form a coalition if we want to make it happen. Work with those organizations in place such as Palm Coast Senior Services, the county Council on Aging and Community Services, etc.

15. Question customized for Anita Moeder: In this interview alone, as in forums, you have pledged to seek a senior center, a young adults center, expanded FiberNet to residential areas, after-school programs, a jobs program for youth, a full-time homeless shelter, more cops, and all without raising taxes. Any one of these proposals, if adopted, would significantly expand the city’s responsibilities and financial burdens. Is that the direction you want the city to take? How responsible is it to make such lavish promises without a financial plan to back it up?

My vision for our city is one that cares about people, people who have needs that are not currently being addressed adequately. If our citizens want to see some changes then I am their candidate – if they like the way things are, then I’m not the right choice for them.

As I said previously, I am socially progressive and fiscally conservative. The two are not mutually exclusive. How do we fund these projects?

  1. We need to look at reprioritizing our spending on what we really want and need.
  2. We need to sharpen the pencil and cut costs where possible.
  3. We need to look at ways to generate revenue for the city – more sport and cultural events that bring in out of town visitors, Fibernet service, etc.
  4. We need to work closely with our local non-profits to create programs for our citizens.
  5. We need to actively pursue funding for our programs from federal, state, and local governments; public and private grants; local businesses; bequests; participant contributions; in-kind donations; and volunteer hours.

It seems remarkable that you are running on a platform of fiscal responsibility, yet are not answering the question of how you’d pay for all the programs and expansions you’re looking for beyond punting to other “stakeholders” and organizations. The question is what you, as a councilwoman, will be capable of accomplishing within the council’s means. Even what little you present here–sports and cultural events, which do not generate direct dollars to city coffers but help the bed tax revenue, an entirely different pot unconnected to the city–does not realistically address the issue of matching your aims with city capabilities. We must ask again: where are the specifics within a councilwoman’s capabilities?

In partnership with our not-for profit stakeholders:
City would pay for part of the programs, funds available by reprioritizing spending based on what our citizens want.
City would work with stakeholders to make applications for federal and state funding.
City would actively support and promote special events for the program.
Stakeholders would identify public and private grants.
City and Stakeholders would approach local businesses for monetary and in-kind donations.
Citizens would be asked for bequests and contributions.
Participants could be asked for a contribution for use.
Volunteer hours would provide the majority of the needed manpower.

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16 Responses for “Anita Moeder, Palm Coast City Council Candidate: The Live Interview”

  1. David Schaefer says:

    Great interview she has a great vision for this city Mr Netts you are living in a dream world Im glad your time is serving the city(if you want to call it that) is up.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Providing more, means spending more. What is going to be done to curb some of the out of control spending now to allocate those saved dollars into other avenues that would benefit the citizens more? We can not just keep on the path of spend, spend, spend! It is not always possible to keep what you have and add more, evaluations need to be made to determine if what we have is now what we still need and if it is worth the cost. We don’t need a city manager making nearly a quarter million dollars a year with his benefit package, he is doing what the elected officials should be doing! Council members are not elected to just rubber stamp. Now is our time to turn this city around and we need someone who will be accountable and take the bull by the horns to make positive changes changing the direction of the city. When there are so many foreclosures, short sales, tax deed sales and vacant homes in the city that is in indication there is a problem. Why were so many schools built when there weren’t enough kids to put them to good use? Use one of the schools for a senior center, it is owned by the people.

  3. Lin says:

    I would ask this candidate if a tax increase turns out to be necessary to fund these programs she wants to have (the other hoped-for sources of money don’t pan out), would she be for a tax increase?

    Because property values have increased we are all going to pay more even without a rate increase
    And this does me no good if I want to stay here and pay my tax bill. It is only when selling (assuming the values don’t drop again) that I benefit from higher values.

    We all want a pretty city but I’d like to pay my bills too
    Lots of us aren’t getting raises, just higher costs

  4. Robert Lewis says:

    I’m sorry Anita, we don’t need more retail. We need real jobs here. How can we support an economy on minimum wage/ minimum skill jobs? How do you propose we pay for putting all these kids to work? My lawn needs cutting, but I see no young bodies with a lawn mower willing to work. 18-21 year olds don’t need to be baby sat, they are perfectly capable on their own to find things to do.

    I think all you’re proposing is bigger and more out of control government. You want to raise our taxes and just spend recklessly. I’m sorry, you lost me. I think I’m voting for Klufas.

  5. Anita Moeder says:

    Im not sure where the disconnect as you share my position on jobs. We need career jobs, good paying jobs. We can use more restaurants and stores for our citizens and they are a source of jobs as well.

    Regarding taxes, I do NOT want to raise taxes, I do NOT want to implement regressive taxes. I want to reprioritize our spending 0, make sure that our tax dollars are spent efficiently

    I am proposing more people services which many in our city need.

  6. Anita Moeder says:

    Hi Lin, thx for your comments.
    If we cannot find the money by reprioritizing, grants, and other stakeholders, then we will not do them. The city needs to hold the line.

  7. Anita Moeder says:

    While I am socially progressive, I am fiscally conservative. I firmly believe that we must live within our means. Regarding taxes, I do NOT want to raise taxes, I do NOT want to implement regressive taxes. I want to reprioritize our spending , make sure that our tax dollars are spent efficiently.
    We have people that need help and I want to have city services to do that. I am committed to doing everything I can to find the $$ for services, within our current revenues.

  8. Anita Moeder says:

    Thanks David, appreciate your support!

  9. Brad W says:

    I hear over and over we need to do this that and the other, but the City shouldn’t raise taxes. The idea that there are sooo many inefficiencies and areas where the City can cut expenses to provide all of the social services at 4.92 millage rate or less is very naive. No, we do not need a senior center right now. A couple million dollars are being put into a renovation of the existing Community Center, there is nothing wrong with using that.

    I hear a lot of very expensive ideas, but know way to pay for any of them. I just don’t think Mrs. Moeder truly understands how the complexities of the City actually work.

  10. downinthelab says:

    Less governance will mean less taxes and more freedom.

    She doesn’t get my vote.

  11. David B says:

    One of the main issue our city needs is we have to get away from this retirement community behavior, and become a business oriented community, It’s very simple economics that a younger professional community will increase revenue and service. This is not my Parent’s city anymore.

  12. woodchuck says:

    A youth center?Our sheriff”s dept. are busy enough.

  13. Anonymous says:

    @downinthelab – maybe you should surface from your lab. The talking points are pointless. Less government actually mean hooking up a friends business for the government gig – Government contracts which eventually cost tax payers more money. Enough already! The fact is that government services aren’t the greatest in PC. We keep the same behavior and bleed money. The fact that we spend so much money on education and the young leave should be addressed. A youth and senior center can answer both service improvement and youth retention. David B is right! Cultural event support for the arts and support for cultural institutions here would also be good, not just “Rock and Rib”, and can also be fostered to bring more jobs and business to this city. A forensic audit can show us what we need to know. The City Council can take it from there if there is phantom cash flow. I like what she has to say.

  14. CLS says:

    Flagler County is one of the very few counties around the NATION that does not have a decent senior center. Palm Coast was envisioned and designed for retirees -that means seniors for the most part. Take a look at Ormond Beach’s Senior Center -they have money-making events all the time (I volunteered there a bit). There should also be an adult daycare center where those taking care of their elderly parents at home can take them for the day to get some respite, go shopping, do chores, or just rest. Georgia has those all over the place. Interesting how a retirement oriented city is not interested in helping seniors in this regard. Hmmmm.

    Georgia has senior centers, often more than one, all throughout it’s 150+ counties. Palm Coast decided to build a expensive building where there are now next to NO tenants (the one near Walmart). What is with that??? Why cannot a senior center be used there? A teen event center? Heck a decent nighclub with good music like the super successful Atlanta nightclub Johnny’s Hideaway, which has been in operation since 1979? There are no good, large places to dance to good music that the older generation would enjoy from St. Augustine to Daytona Beach (since the Blue Grotto shut it’s doors last year).
    We NEED a senior center. Anita answered Flaglerlive’s question about it and then they claimed she didn’t. Here is her answer once agin. “Funding? Money for this program could include federal, state, and local governments; special events; public and private grants; businesses; bequests; participant contributions; in-kind donations; and volunteer hours. Working closely with our local non-profits would create a great center that is a result of true partnership.”

    I am appalled at the low wages Florida offers it’s citizens, often minimum wage (what’s it now – $8?) for jobs that pay $12 to $18 in other states. Even nurses get shafted – my BSN RN daughter makes over $40 an hour in Atlanta hospitals compared to $25 an hour here in Florida. Of course Florida is the tourist, snowbird state, and snowbirds leave during the summer, so the income flow is not steady throughout the year. We should be the environmental state, the solar-power state (Sunshine state, right?). I think it is awful that governments often pit profits of business against the profits of individuals, with the citizens often losing.
    Go Anita!

  15. anita moeder says:

    Brad W,
    naive? don’t understand how the city works? certainly not!
    1. the first place to look for money IS to do a detailed, line by line review of how we are spending money today. are there inefficiencies to be corrected? I bet there are! are there priorities that we can change? I bet there are!
    2. re senior center, having temporary quarters at the community center is NOT a senior center. did you read my comments about what a senior center needs to be?
    3. please read what I wrote in the article above, how to pay for things, very last paragraph,
    thank you

  16. Sheila Zinkerman says:

    Anita Moeder knows how to sharpen pencils!
    I know her well and stand by her as a candidate for City Council. She is passionate, inventive, and fearless on how she synthesizes problems with their solutions to come up with workable plans. One such plan is to “place make” a space for our elders and youth to gather in Palm Coast. If the cost is prohibitive, Anita will sharpen her pencil and get it done within budget. For example, Anita supports successful intergenerational centers that combine both elder and youth activity under one roof. Typically these centers are located in existing buildings that include separate spaces for youth and elders but are connected by a larger space (hall) where both youth and elders can mingle for activities if they choose (see Forbes link.) Some halls are also leased and/or used for fundraising events to generate revenue for the center’s operational costs. Let’s use Anita’s inventiveness and get things done in Palm Coast. Vote for Anita Moeder. She’s pet friendly too!

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