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FAC has role to play in budget process

April 18, 2009
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Some members of the Cape Coral Financial Advisory Committee are frustrated that the city's elected council too often discounts recommendations and goes its own way when making decisions concerning the budget and budget policies.

The FAC chair, Michael Foye, unexpectedly resigned this week and, subsequently, member Cheryl Peppers suggested disbanding the advisory panel.

Both said the FAC's efforts are pretty much ignored and so a waste of time.

We do agree that the FAC is one of the hardest-working advisory committees city council appoints.

Its efforts dig well beyond the surface of what is presented by staff and much time is devoted to the analysis and recommendations presented to the elected board.

We also agree that FAC efforts are often for naught.

We know how that feels.

Literally, and on a regular basis.

The purpose of offering input and recommendations, though, is not solely in hope of having one's advice accepted and implemented.

The primary reason for having advisory boards and earmarking citizen input time is to gather "outside" opinion to help in the decision-making process.

The primary benefit - whether that input is accepted or not - is to shine a light on those opinions and analysis that may differ from staff's, that may differ from the political philosophies held by public officials, that may otherwise go unheard and unexamined.

By no means is this a waste of time. It is, in fact, civic volunteerism at the most unselfish level.

We thank the FAC for its efforts and we urge council to fill the committee's vacancies promptly.

We do not believe that finding qualified candidates who can come up to speed on the Cape's budget challenges is an impossibility.

Nor do we believe the advisory board should be disbanded because previous councils have listened, thanked and made their own decisions, right or wrong.

That's what we elect council members to do - make decisions - and this responsibility should never be delegated to staff, advisory panels or head-count polling at public meetings.

The FAC has an important role to play this critical budget year. Give it the tools - and the people - to continue its efforts.

- Breeze editorial



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