2018 Candidate for West Melbourne City Council

Our family carefully chose to make West Melbourne home. Its location is perfect. The schools are excellent. It's inland enough to reduce the worries of oceanside living, close to the airport, convenient for shopping, and easy to get to the amazing places in Brevard County. It's also very near our work places. West Melbourne is poised to be a strong and proud central Florida community supporting the core industries of the Space Coast.

I am running for West Melbourne City Council to help grow our city into a shining example of central Florida living.

Our Community

Life should be about compromising, carefully navigating sensitive grey areas, being prepared to learn new things, and changing our minds when the evidence demands it. Life should not be about us versus them, purposeful ignorance, turning a blind eye, or greed. We all recognize that some people are doing well and that some need some help. We will all go through good times and bad. In every case, we should support each other as friends, neighbors, colleagues, and members of the City of West Melbourne community.

The West Melbourne City Council should support our community, grow our community, and promote our community. The Council should be transparent, sensitive, objective, courageous, and fair. As a City Council member, these will always be my priorities.

Specifics

Taxes

It's your money, and you should know how your elected officials allocate it. For me, budget transparency is a right: Residents should be able to easily find out how the City Council is spending funds. The budget should be easy to understand. The 2018 projected income was $13.5 million, but the 2018 projected spending was $19.1 million. The city was relying heavily on our reserve savings to fund the difference. Mid-year additions thankfully grew the general fund budget to $20 million. While there is no general fund debt, we have external debt for water and sewer revenue bonds. Over the course of the next 13-years this debt will cost around $18 million. These numbers were confirmed recently with the city manager.

I will work hard to get our city out of debt as soon as possible and never approve a budget that spends more than our income. The 2019 budget is currently in development, but the 2018 adopted budget can be found here:

Emergency Services

About 44% of our budget goes to support our heroes in blue. They do a tremendous job. We are excitedly waiting the completion of the much-needed police station expansion and for the purchase of new SUVs. We are deeply grateful to our much needed School Resource Officers (SROs), but our current State legislators have failed us with school security. The current Brevard County School Board has failed us with school security. It is now left to the courage of the City Council to solve the West Melbourne SRO problem. I will work to solve our SRO problem as fairly as possible.

The Police Athletic League (PAL) is a wonderful program that brings the youth of our City together with our Police Officers. PAL hosts our Food Truck Friday events on the 4th Friday of the month at Veteran's Memorial Complex. I will work to ensure PAL receives the necessary city support to continue its success. PAL does outstanding work for our Community and are looking for volunteers:

Hurricanes

We live in Florida. Hurricanes happen and we must be as prepared as possible when they do. I was proud to see our Mayor Hal Rose leading by example during Matthew in 2016 and Irma in 2017. I bumped into him helping our residents fill sand bags before the winds and rain hit.

But hurricane preparedness is a year-round activity. The City Council should help people get prepared early and stay prepared for as long as necessary. We must give ourselves every opportunity to be proactive rather than reactive about hurricanes.

We must particularly care for the families of our emergency services workers who brave the conditions regardless of severity. At the most critical and stressful moments, many homes are missing key family members and don't know if they are safe. The City Council should ensure that the families of our emergency responders have the support they need to ride out the worst of it with as little stress as possible.

We must help those who cannot help themselves, especially with putting up their own hurricane shutters. We must make sure that every home has a safe escape route in case of fire once a hurricane has passed (some shutters must come down so window escapes are available if necessary). As for leaving those shutters up after the hurricane, that is a grey area: While there will always be another hurricane on the horizon, neighbors may tire of looking at your shutters and you'll no doubt have to deal with your own HOA because of them.

Schools

West Melbourne has, and must maintain, great schools. Schools are where our children get many of the skills and knowledge they need to live happy and successful lives. And as children are our future, we must take this responsibility very seriously. We cannot have great schools without great teachers. But, if we don't show teachers the respect they deserve and give them the support they need, how can they possibly perform at their full potential and provide the high-quality education our children deserve? It is no secret that our schools face funding issues at the county and state level, so strong leadership at the city level is essential. We recently saw this type of decisive action with regards to SROs. But now that support may be waivering due to the indecision and confusion of our state legislators and School Board. I will work to continue the momentum from the positive SRO decisions and look to directly incentivize the absolute best West Melbourne teachers in terms of both recruitment and retention.

Infrastructure

West Melbourne residents should not have to worry about their homes flooding, their roads crumbling, and their power failing. Blocked drainage canals, pot-holed roads, and near collapsed electricity poles are unacceptable. And yet I have personally witnessed West Melbourne neighborhoods flooding, had my bones rattled on our roads, and have seen a West Melbourne electrical transformer explode on a perfectly fine April morning.

I will make sure these essential infrastructure items get the appropriate funding. Canal maintenance should be a top priority, we should work to keep the roads smooth, and modernize our power grid. These are both short term (drainage) and long term (roads, power) problems. All are issues that need to be continually addressed.

Zoning and Permitting

City planning should be taken very seriously and we should hold contractors operating in here to high standards. West Melbourne is in the midst of a huge building boom. However, it is clear that some builders and contractors are cutting significant corners to maximize their profits at the expense of West Melbourne residents. Many subdivisions have experienced the heartbreak of homes needing significant repairs, which could have been avoided if some builders were not so greedy and respected their customers. We have some truly amazing local homebuilders in Brevard County, but the big national builders have obviously disrespected many West Melbourne residents. I will hold these builders accountable and carefully assess how permits are issued to these national corporations.

Local businesses

West Melbourne is a prime location for businesses. There is easy access from I95, and we are the corridor to Downtown Melbourne and beachside. Local businesses support our community with jobs and quality services. I will carefully consider how to retain our excellent local businesses, attract new ones, and support strategic development that has a minimal impact on our residents’ quality of life.

Green spaces

Nature is inspiring. We should give ourselves every opportunity to enjoy what nature has to offer within our city limits. This is especially important for our children. Our city plans to continue annexation of new spaces, but the protection of current green spaces is unclear. Six of the seven West Melbourne parks are small, mostly tucked away, and very limited in scope. The truly amazing seventh West Melbourne Community Park (Field of Dreams) is a growing gem and it will be a focus of the community once construction is complete. However, it is a heavily engineered environment and lacks the kind of natural features that tie us to our ancestry. I will continue to keep our sights on regions within West Melbourne where our residents can enjoy the quiet wooded surroundings classic to central Florida.

Community pride

A clean, efficient, and sustainable community comes about through intensive team work and a clear consciousness of our impact on our environment. The City Council must work closely with other municipalities, the county, and the state to implement methods for improving our environment and increasing the quality of life for all residents. Clear advice on recycling best practices, help for those looking to limit the impact of their home (and lifestyle) on the environment, and provisions to support the use of modern energy sources, are all fundamental drivers for the decisions I will make as a City Council member.

If you have any city issues that you'd like to hear my opinion on, please email me at dpbatcheldor@gmail.com or write to PO BOX 120391, West Melbourne, FL 32912.

If you would rather mail a check, then thank you. Checks should be made out to "Daniel Batcheldor Campaign Account" and sent to P.O. Box 120391, West Melbourne, FL 32912. Please be sure to include your name, address, phone number, occupation and employer with any donations, because these details are required for Campaign Financing regulations.

Paid for by Daniel Batcheldor for West Melbourne City Council.