West Melbourne Candidate Refutes Postcard Allegations
By Stephany Eley // October 31, 2012
BREVARD COUNTY • WEST MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Last night as I walked one of the neighborhoods of West Melbourne, I spoke with a gentleman who said he was so confused by all the slanted and deceptive campaign ads that he didn’t know how to vote.
I believe it is important to set the record straight with the facts: Ever since the former West Melbourne police chief, Brian Lock, was removed from his position, a concerted campaign began against the only two council members up for re-election, Stephany Eley and Pat Bentley.
The postcard that went out over the weekend was a continuation of this campaign of retribution.
Two of the three allegations in the postcard are blatantly untrue and the third is extremely deceptive.
• The West Melbourne City Council did NOT vote to close the police department lobby at night. On Sept. 18, our new police chief, Rick Wiley, approached the city council with his decision to close the lobby from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Police officers are on duty 24 hours a day and can respond to any emergency within a minute and a half. Chief Wiley informed city council that no other police department in Brevard County has an open lobby after 5 p.m. and he believed the resources could be better utilized in other areas. He estimated the total cost savings to the police department to be in excess of $100,000 not the $47,000 reported on the erroneous postcard. More than 25 police officers accompanied Chief Wiley to the city council meeting to support his decision.
• Stephany Eley and Pat Bentley did NOT use public funds for their own personal benefit. On July 17, the West Melbourne City Council voted to allow city council members to purchase healthcare insurance for their families at the same rate as other city employees. Pat Bentley has health insurance coverage as an engineer at Harris Corporation and Stephany Eley has health insurance coverage as a high school science and math teacher through Brevard Public Schools. Neither Pat nor Stephany purchased health care coverage and thus did NOT receive any personal benefit from the decision to allow council members to purchase health care insurance. Only one council member purchased health insurance for his children and pays the city close to $ 400 a month for the coverage.
• The postcard indicated that the funds from the closing of the police station lobby were used to pay for health care coverage. These were clearly two independent decisions made by two different entities more than two months apart. The health care decision was made on July 17 by the city council. The decision to close the police department lobby was made on Sept. 18 by the Chief of Police. These issues were not in any way related but were deceptively tied together to create a more salacious postcard.
• In 2009, West Melbourne’s millage rate was 1.59 mills; the city council voted to raise it to 2.23 mills where it still stands today. The City of West Melbourne has the ABSOLUTE lowest total tax rate of any city in Brevard County. Stephany Eley and Pat Bentley have voted to keep the millage rate the same for the last three years resulting in tax savings to our residents as property values have continued to decline.
• In 2009, our previous city manager was systematically overspending virtually every budget line item resulting in a massive budget shortfall. When our new city manager, Scott Morgan, arrived in July that year, he told city council the city would face significant layoffs including at least nine police officers if we did not raise the millage rate. At our budget meeting, we had eight residents beg city council to raise the millage so that we would not lose police officers. Pat Bentley and Stephany Eley listened to their constituents. Pat and Stephany have worked hard to reduce the budget from 40 million to 25 million in the four years they have served on city council.
I am very grateful to Space Coast Daily.com for the opportunity to present the truth to our constituents. Thank you for allowing me this venue.
Stephany Eley, Deputy Mayor of the City of West Melbourne