Award winning Police Explorers and Puppy Sale Ban fill the chambers

Thursday’s meeting was a long one; over 3 1/2 hours.  As is almost always the case, all Ordinances and Resolutions passed 5:0 except for Resolution 47, 2014 appointing former councilman Carl Sabatello as 2nd alternate to the Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board, from which Councilman Russo recused himself.  Also Resolution 42, 2014 updating the schedule of fees and charges will be held until the September council meeting.

July 10, 2014

Thus it was surprising to once again see the Chamber filled with people wanting to speak on 2nd reading of the Ordinance 11, 2014 banning the retail sale of dogs and cats in Palm Beach Gardens.  First reading had passed unanimously.  Nevertheless 21 people spoke (10 for and 11 against) – with many heartfelt stories for the resolution, and equally emotional store owners and employees against. When one of the speakers asked those in the audience supporting the ban to stand, it was obvious that most filling the chambers were there for this purpose.

Public comment on other topics included Steve Martino, asking the Council to look at the neglect of the original Plat 1 neighborhoods and asked the Council to commit to act upon it.  Steve Mathison of PGA Corridor gave his thanks and support.  Suzette Navratik requested that a traffic consultant do another study of the PGA Waterfront project area. Doug Frevert wanted to speak against the Church in the Gardens item (opposed to a sidewalk to nowhere), but was missed on that item; he also spoke on behalf of Resolution 48, 2014 thanking the administration for the resolution to preserve the election process.  Iris Scheibl also spoke on the resolution,  thanking staff and requesting that this hole in the process be fixed during the Charter Review.  She also challenged the Council to lower the  millage as the max rate (flat millage)would represent a 6.14% increase.

The annual evaluation of City Manager Ferris had been postponed from the June council meeting.  It was held until the Items for Council Action/Discussion portion of the meeting.    For the most part, the Council members’ comments were glowing.  Mr. Levy did not have any suggestions for improvement, loved how the City had been managed over the last 10 years and said that the millage rate today is lower than it was when Levy was first elected  (Ed. Note: millage rate is not an indicator of City’s revenue).  Mrs. Tinsley suggested that there is always more need for improvement on open communications, transparency, and more workshops like the PZAD one on the PGA Waterfront.  Mr. Russo said that Mr. Ferris took a lot of heat for the stadium fiasco, but that he saw nothing wrong with how it was handled.  He also praised the City Manager’s handling of the Police contract.   Mr. Jablin pointed out that Ferris came in as an interim city manager after the prior one was essentially fired and asked to stay.  He also praised his outstanding staff and their loyalty. Mayor Premuroso praised Ferris’ performance and then listed upcoming challenges for the next year, including the Fire/Rescue contract, Parks and facilities expansion, infrastructure repairs and improvements.  The Mayor also seemed to take offense at clamors for more transparency, but then said they’d be even more transparent.  The discussion took an interesting turn when Eric Jablin proposed an extension of the City Manager’s Contract for an additional 2 years to June,  2018 – primarily because if term limits are imposed, “the council will be wiped out“.  (Watch the discussion here!)  The motion was withdrawn until the contract could be reviewed, and placed on the agenda for transparency and public vote.  Retirement intentions and a succession plan need to be discussed as well.  It will be on the agenda in the first budget meeting in September.

Last on the agenda was discussion of the impact of the Gas Station ordinance recently passed by the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners with respect to signage on fuel pricing, specifically cash/discount prices.   Cities are subjected to the ordinance unless they take overt action to withdraw and adopt an ‘ordinance in conflict’.  The ordinance will take effect in 1 year after approval.  Kevin Dalton, an owner of 3 gas stations in Palm Beach Gardens raised his objections to the County’s ordinance, describing impacts to him.  This topic will also come back before the Council after Planning and Zoning have a meeting/workshop with the PGA Corridor and gas station owners.

Recognized at the beginning of the meeting were Justin Autwell, awarded paramedic of the year and Robert Pieris awarded firefighter of the year by local organizations.  Amazing young members of the Palm Beach Gardens Police Explorers placed 1st in a regional competition and were honored for their accomplishments.

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