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2013 SCREENING QUESTIONNAIRE

Commissioners

 

Candidate Name: Andrew Schaller

 

1.     Tell us about yourself.

 

I have been a resident of Palm Beach County since 1987, a District 6 resident since 1990. Palm Beach Financial Exchange, Inc., an electronic banking company that I own and operate was formed by me in 1994. Since 2008 , I have been actively involved in the Board of County Commissioners, having attended and/or watched most every meeting since that time. My experiences with PSC government include: the Inspector General, PBC Ethics, Florida Ethics, PBC Internal Auditor, Engineering Department and many employees of Palm Beach County.

 

 2. Tell us about your campaign:

 a.     Who’s managing?

My campaign has not officially disclosed our strategy, supporters, or taken contributions as of this time. The election is 13 months away and in my opinion, too soon to ask the public to support the campaigning efforts of a local election. I won’t politicize the holidays.

 b.     Who’s endorsed?

My campaign has not officially disclosed our strategy, supporters, or taken contributions as of this time. I won’t politicize the holidays.

 

2.     How much money do you believe it will take to win the election?

 

I have a good name awareness in the district so I believe a reasonable estimate would be  in the $100,000 to $150,000 range.

 

3.     How much have you raised?

I have not opened a campaign account as of this time.

 

4.     Have you ever held an elected office before? If so. where and when?

 

I have never held a political office. In 2010, I ran for this office but was not elected.

 

5.     The county commission has had some discussion on privatizing some areas of county government. Do you agree with privatizing? If so, what do you feel should be privatized?

 

Under some circumstances I can agree with privatization. The County should not be competing with the private sector in private sector industries. I question if the county should be running the marinas, golf courses, convention center and hotel, airports, and other businesses that can be leased to the fair market highest bidder to minimize county financial exposure while ensuring standards of operation and maintaining ownership. The public would be able to evaluate the operators performance and changes could be made to ensure customer satisfaction. Palm Tran is an example of being able to address public concerns and make necessary adjustments.

 

6.     If elected, what do you feel are going to be the three biggest issues you will have to face in your first term?

 

  1. District Representation – District 6 has not had representation as the board chair, now mayor, in the last eight years. The Glades regional office has not been open to the residents in three years.
  2. District 6 Growth – Three major projects are in the works that will have a definite impact on the region: Highland Dunes, (PB Aggregates), Minto (Callery Judge Groves) development, and the Avenir (Vavrus) development.
  3. Insurances – FEMA Flood insurance, Health Care costs and Property insurance costs that could further strap taxpayers and their ability to meet existing tax obligations and decreasing the amount of unemployed residents while raising the number of underemployed workers.

 

7.     How do you feel the current county administration has performed?

 

In the situations that have involved me, their grade is a failing one. Six boards have been chaired by different individuals and a sad comedy of errors has been perpetuated. The more I learn about various situations, the more I believe the county has some very good employees who are handcuffed by a system that is not set up for efficiency. This is a very large county and I am sure a number of things work well, or well enough. The basic needs of the county by and large seem to be met but sometimes for the wrong reasons.

 

8.     Our county administrators are getting close to retirement. As Commissioner, how will you want to replace the current administration?

 

I will want to replace the current administrator with the best person for the job. That person may come from inside the county or may not. We have a new hire date of September 2015 so the process should be to hire the most qualified person that applies. In the next two years, applications and interviews, along with present workplace evaluations, should be carefully considered. Since the administrator is one of only three BCC employees they should have final determining power. I believe an RFP (Request for Proposal) style list of requirements should be established and strictly followed. A point grading system for the categories could be objectively created beforehand. The highest points achievers could then be formally interviewed in open county chambers.

 

10. District 6 is set for the next large area for growth:

 

a. Do you support development?

I support smart managed growth and development consistent with area surroundings while fully considering the property rights and lifestyle expectations of all property owners effected.

 

b.     What are your biggest concerns?

Property owners who wish to live in rural environments have a reasonable expectation of preservation of their lifestyle, within reason. If someone purchases a property next to a vacant parcel, it is not a reasonable expectation to believe nothing will ever be developed there (excluding properties held in perpetuity to be maintained in a natural state.) With development of large tracts of land come the inherent infrastructure concerns: Water, Fire, Traffic, Schools, Parks, Roads, and the establishment and preservation of quality of life standards for the area.

 

c.     Is density important or would you rather See less homes per acre?

 

There must be a balance of each. The areas set for growth are surrounded by less homes per acre. In the Case of Minto (Callery Judge) the number of homes per acre could be offset by the number of recreational/open space acres. For a property that is about 5 miles by two miles the possibilities are endless to satisfy a community development that is largely self sufficient and a benefit to surrounding areas. That being said, the limited surrounding access roads should not be overburdened by new growth that harms existing users of those roads and services.

 

d.     What impacts does growth bring on the district? Good and bad?

 

New business is the life blood of any business. The County will gain in tax revenues through property taxes, impact fees, water customers, businesses, educational facilities, jobs and services that would not otherwise be available to that area. The bad, all of the above increase the constraints on the county provided services and create new needs and costs that are not associated with agricultural properties. Also the reduction of farm land decrease the availability of locally grown foods. Corn/sugar/lettuce/radish/tree crops don’t use buses, schools, or other human requirements.

 

e.     Would you support swapping land in District 6 for development rights in the Ag Reserve? If so, please explain.

I do not support the swap. Bonds were issued to maintain the Ag Reserve for the purpose of an ag reserve. Farmers with local knowledge of the soils, wind patterns, water and climate will tell you all farm land is not created equal.

 

11. ln December 2014, the process COPCN (Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity) is going to open. This is the license for advanced life support and basic life support ambulances and air rescue in Palm Beach County. Currently, there are two private ambulances that are working with the area fire departments. Would you be in favor of:

 a.     Keeping with the current system of two private ambulance companies augmenting PBC Fire Rescue services? Please explain.

The best people to evaluate the system are those involved in the system daily. I would evaluate an apply the input received from  those who have a firsthand working knowledge of the partnership now. If a private concern can fill a need while working with the rules and guidance of the fire departments and it adds extra life saving capabilities, I could support it. However, if this creates service issues with area departments not having the jurisdiction or authority to use a private company as an overall  benefit to the fire  departments, then I would be against inhibiting our fire departments.

b.     Adding additional private companies? Please explain.

My answer above is the same for this question. I believe in empowering the people who perform their jobs with the best equipment and support services available as is cost beneficial and practical. I would welcome firsthand experience and input from the firefighters who are impacted by this decision.

c.     Reducing the number and utilizing Fire Rescue more to generate revenue? Please explain.

Revenue is important but life is more important. The sum is greater than the parts. The area firefighters are responsible for our safety and who knows better how to the job and the tools and service for the job than those who perform the jobs.

 

12. What are your feelings on a regional fire rescue department vs. each municipality having its own fire department?

 

I understand the value of a grid system to best serve the public. The closest fire station  may not be located in the municipality. Case in point: Wellington Station 20 and the proximity to Loxahatchee, Loxahatchee Groves, The Acreage and Royal Palm Beach. The person with a rescue need wants and needs the best services as quickly as possible. A municipality would have to make the same determination as to fire as it would police. The ultimate determination of services lies within the hands of the voters and whom the elect.

 

13.The HCD was established in 1990 to provide trauma care to the residents and visitors or Palm Beach County. At that time, the trauma helicopter was funded by the HCD and piloted by PBSO and the paramedics came from Palm Beach County Fire Rescue. Currently, the HCD has a helicopter hanger, a maintenance facility to do repairs and several pilots and mechanics. The HCD continues to use PBCFR paramedics and nurses but now transfers patients from out of town hospitals to other out of area hospitals. This is known as an “out of county interfacility transport: Do you feel this is a good use of taxpayer resources and dollars?

 

Using the local resources as a medical taxi at taxpayers’ expense is not a good source of taxpayer dollars. When my father was helicoptered from a hospital in NY to a hospital in CT, this was a direct private medical expense not paid for by the taxpayers of either state. Unless there are multiples of equipment, personnel and medical resources just on standby, it would seem that this use of assets puts new patients of emergency services at risk due to the unavailability of said resources.

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