Plan Used Art As Defense Against Graffiti

 

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Lauderdale-By-The-Sea’s Strategic Annexation in 2010

Lauderdale-By-The-Sea pic
Lauderdale-By-The-Sea
Image: lauderdalebythesea-fl.gov

Now the city manager of Dania Beach, Florida, Robert Baldwin has held this position in several Florida cities. During his tenure as city manager of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Robert Baldwin spearheaded an annexation initiative to boost revenue and lower taxes.

In 2010, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea annexed an oceanfront 1,800-resident condo complex called Sea Ranch Lakes. The annexation of the complex from unincorporated Broward County required the town to pay $112,000 to Pompano Beach in order to add the complex to the town’s sewage disposal plan. Despite a rise in sewage rates for residents, the annexation lowered taxes by expanding the town’s tax base by 58 percent, taking its total taxable value to $428 million.

Further, the initiative helped Lauderdale-By-The-Sea fund its $4.1 million budget that year, which was more than $818,000 higher than that of the previous year. Much of the extra revenue went toward fulfilling agreements with Sea Ranch Lakes, such as hiring two police officers for beach patrol, a part-time technician to repair parking meters, a part-time grant writer, and a part-time planner. However, the annexation allowed the town to increase its reserves from $300,000 to more than $1 million.

University of Florida Team Enjoys Success at MuniMod Civic Competition

University of Florida  pic
University of Florida
Image: news.ufl.edu

A municipal manager with more than 20 years of experience, Robert Baldwin serves as city manager of Dania Beach, Florida. In addition to bringing a wealth of experience to this city manager role, Robert Baldwin holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Florida (UF), which announced that a team of four UF students won second place in the MuniMod civic tech competition.

The first annual MuniMod civic tech competition brought together students from throughout Florida for a 24-hour hackathon in Orlando. Sponsored by Domi Station and the Florida League of Cities, the competition required that students devise solutions to challenges facing Florida cities.

The UF team created a mobile platform called IdenCity, which is designed to facilitate communication between city governments and citizens in an effort to foster civic engagement, which is lacking in the state of Florida. The team collaborated for months to build a prototype of IdenCity, gathering feedback from city officials and developing wireframes with an app called AppCooker.

After close deliberation, the competition’s judges awarded the $10,000 prize to the team of students from Florida State University to continue developing their idea. However, UF’s team made a strong impression on the judges, who made a last-minute decision to award the team a second-place prize of $5,000.

Renewal at Dania Beach, Florida

Dania Beach pic
Dania Beach
Image: ci.dania-beach.fl.us

Dania Beach is the first and oldest city in Broward County, Florida. Over the years, it has begun to experience many of the challenges that cities all along Florida’s east coast have faced. Robert Baldwin, the city manager of Dania Beach, is responsible for the administration of the city. Under his leadership, many reforms and renovations are underway.

Dania Beach’s oceanfront is adjacent to an area state park. Therefore, rather than the commercialized ocean fronts of nearby towns, Dania Beach has the benefit of offering beach-goers a more natural environment. To capitalize on these benefits–and in part due to the work of Robert Baldwin and the Office of the City Manager–renovations have been progressing along the oceanfront.

Dania’s Ocean Park offers convenient parking, two restaurants, and a popular fishing pier that is open to the public. New chickee huts and bathrooms have been added to the park. In addition, the 120-slip Dania Beach Marina located across the street has undergone renovations and improvements. Slips within the marina are available for transient, monthly, and annual rental.

Broward County Sheriff’s Office Enlists the Help of Local Art Students

Robert Baldwin has spent the last five years as a city manager in Dania Beach, Florida. Robert Baldwin has additional experience as an assistant city manager in Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale and as CAO in the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. As Assistant City Manager of Fort Lauderdale, he also was in charge of controlling Spring Break.

In anticipation of the annual spring break crowd, Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Ron Cochran got Robert Baldwin’s approval to take a somewhat unusual approach toward preventing excessive graffiti on a concrete wall running along Road A1A. Cochran urged more than 1,000 local art students to arrive at the wall with paint buckets and art supplies in tow and to go to work. The chief did not indicate a preference for color, only encouraging the artists to accomplish their work before the wall was tagged with spray paint. The wall extends from Granada Street to East Las Olas Boulevard, covering about 2,500 feet, likely providing the young artists with the largest canvas they had ever worked on. While Cochran’s motivations were purely professional, he joked that the nation’s next great artist might be discovered as part of the project.

Budgetary Improvements in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida

The city manager of Dania Beach, Florida, Robert Baldwin previously served as the town manager of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida. During his tenure, Robert Baldwin implemented administrative reforms to the town’s financial reporting, which earned him positive coverage by the Sun Sentinel (http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1997-12-21/community/9712171223_1_town-s-finances-town-hall-town-commission). He subsequently proposed a budget that would improve the town’s economy, including certain strategic investments and tax cuts.

Following the annexation of a condominium complex, the resort town of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea recognized an opportunity to better the quality of life for its citizens. The purchase of Sea Ranch Lakes condominiums in unincorporated Broward County increased the town’s population by 1,800 people, its tax base by nearly 60 percent, and its total taxable value to $428 million.

These changes led Baldwin to issue a proposal that would cut taxes by almost 20 percent and allow Lauderdale-by-the-Sea to levy some of the lowest tax rates in Broward County. Under his budget, home owners would have to pay $3.85 per $1,000 of taxable assessed property value rather than the previous amount of $4.85. Yet even with lower taxes, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea would still be able to fund a budget $818,000 greater than the previous year’s. The new money would be used to hire a part-time parking meter repair professional and two new police officers. Moreover, the town would retain money for further annexation projects.

Professional Management Rescues Florida City

Upon earning his master’s degree in public administration in 1976, Robert Baldwin embarked on a career in his chosen field, working for a year in Broward County, Florida’s Central Services Department and then securing an appointment as the assistant city manager of Fort Lauderdale. In 1986 he resigned to form a business consulting company and explore various opportunities worldwide. During the next few years, Robert Baldwin visited every one of the 50 states and about 50 foreign nations as well. He returned to Florida in 1991 to accept a six-month position as assistant manager of the city of Hollywood, Florida.

When Robert Baldwin stepped in, Hollywood was experiencing financial, management, and leadership difficulties. His job was to hold down the fort until a new city manager could be appointed. However, at the request of the former interim city manager, he prepared a management analysis report to help prepare the new manager.

Baldwin’s report outlined a city in trouble. The city paid to staff a sewage pumping station, for instance, despite the fact that it had not worked in the two decades since it was built. It also paid managers for not using their vacations in an unusual arrangement that permitted them to use comp time for vacations and bank vacation time until they retired, which cost the city millions of dollars. In another boondoggle, the city paid a consulting firm $330,000 to install a $2.2 million citywide computer system. At the time of the report, not only hadn’t the system been installed, it was obsolete.

A larger problem, asserted the report, was a culture of secrecy and an air of confusion in the city manager’s office over lines of authority and job responsibilities. In addition, by all accounts, the city’s elected commissioners were frequently kept in the dark about problems until they appeared in the press.

Baldwin’s report was dismissed by many who saw it as the whining of a resentful former employee, but the new city manager heeded it and acted on some of its suggestions. A year later, an independent report prepared by professional auditors echoed Baldwin’s findings.