A message to the citizens of Plantation
from Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Today I am announcing my decision to not seek a third term for Plantation Mayor. There aren’t enough words to express my gratitude to the Plantation residents for the privilege of representing our hometown on many levels. To afford me the opportunity to serve has been truly an honor. Throughout the journey, my family, my friends, and Plantation voters have provided me with unwavering support, and to this I am thankful to all of you for having the utmost confidence in me for the past 17 plus years.
When elected as your Mayor in 2011 there were many budgetary challenges to overcome. Tough decisions had to be made for financial sustainability. Millage rate increases, difficult FOP contract and franchise negotiations, no salary increases for five years, reorganization, personnel changes, and numerous other reduction measures were absolutely necessary for recovery. During those trying years, with Team Plantation’s stellar efforts, we successfully eliminated a $12.9 million deficit, replenished “unassigned reserves/rainy day funds,” and restored operating capital. This earned Plantation an AA+ and Aa1 credit ratings from the S & P and Moody’s. It was the first since 2005 and it reflected our City’s fiscally conservative budgetary practices. None of these came easy nor without a struggle, but Team Plantation persevered to secure Plantation’s future.
To say I am extremely proud of the many accomplishments throughout my tenure as Mayor is an understatement: pride in a vote of confidence by Plantation’s residents to retain the “Strong Mayor” form of government in 2014, pride in the 2015 compensatory salary study to place Plantation in the competitive employment market, pride in the $60 million dollar bond referendum in 2016, and pride in holding fast to maintain Plantation’s 911 system. These and other unheralded achievements have made the grass greener in Plantation.
Looking ahead in the year and years to come for Plantation, there will be given funding challenges to recoup losses: Hurricane Irma depleted the City’s emergency disaster and “unassigned” reserves, a loss of approximately $5 million after FEMA reimbursements, the upcoming 2018 referendum for an additional $25 thousand Homestead Exemption, an approximately $2.1 million revenue loss, the not recommended millage rate decrease in the 2017-2018 budget, a $1.2 million revenue loss, and the cost of living increases. Additionally, there will be the proverbial “blue bag” debate, the cyclical “strong mayor vs. city manager” referendum, traffic management, public safety, development projects, ordinances/code enforcement issues, and the City charter review. These issues among others will face the future Mayor and Council.
So it is imperative for Plantation voters to do their homework in November by electing “qualified” knowledgeable candidates. Elect candidates who are in good standing financially with the City, elect individuals whose decisions will be based on moving Plantation forward, not on their political aspirations, and elect individuals who will retain Plantation’s traditions and hometown vibes.
Needless to say, Plantation has certainly changed through the years since the Veltri Family moved here in 1955. What will always remain the same in Plantation is the legacy my parents, Frank and Genevieve Veltri, have left to the City, my father’s 30 years in public service and serving as Plantation’s fire chief, my mother’s 40 plus years of being a “volunteer extraordinaire” and one of the founders of Plantation’s Historical Museum, plus my husband, Tom, his 23 years of law enforcement in Plantation.
At the onset of my decision to run for an elected office in 2001 there is no denying the Veltri name opened doors. However, the Bendekovic name kept those doors opened for the past almost 18 years. So Frankie Diane Veltri Bendekovic is shutting the public service door and looking forward to opening “the life is good” door of retirement.
During my remaining months in office, as always I will be working together with Team Plantation to make our hometown the best it can be. Again a thank you from my heart to my family, friends, supporters, and all the employees of the City of Plantation for the ultimate experience to serve!