Much of the public comment and discussion at the June City Council meeting was directed at Ordinance 10, 2015, and spending plans for the proposed PBG Golf Course Club House; 11 people spoke in favor. But before Finance Director Allan Owens began, City Manager Ferris gave a presentation about the uniqueness and forward thinking approach of the City. He recounted all the cases in the last 15 years, where the city ‘went big’and built not for current needs, but future needs – listing the PGA Flyover, Burns Rd Gym/Aquatic Center (cat 5 ready), Burns Road widening, Emergency Operations Center, Kyoto Gardens Drive (4 lanes instead of 2), and Mirasol Park.

June 4, 2015

He used the mantra, reworded a little bit differently each time “build today for the needs of tomorrow with today’s money“.  Of course the money he was talking about using was most of the balance of the General Fund Budget Stabilization Reserve Account. Those of you who attended the 2015  Budget Hearings in September, may recall that the Council was initially aghast at then Mayor Premuroso’s suggestion that $500K of the fund be returned to the residents as a millage decrease (it was still a tax increase since property values had risen). Nine months later, however, the outlook (and the Council’s attitude) was quite different as they approved 5:0 the spending down of the reserve fund as follows:

To summarize, the recommended transfers contained in Ordinance 10, 2015, which
impact General Fund Budget Stabilization Reserves, include the following:
1. Supplemental appropriation for Golf Course Clubhouse  $2,288,544
2. Additional payment towards unfunded public safety liabilities  $1,392,761
3. Supplemental appropriation for City Park  $1,200,000
4. Supplemental appropriation for Police Tactical Training Facility $575,000
Total Transfers From Budget Stabilization Reserves  $5,456,305

After the above transfers are made, the current General Fund Budget Stabilization
Reserve Account will total $462,005. Unassigned General Fund Reserves are
unaffected, and will remain at $23,066,106.

Only Council Member Premuroso expressed concern that the fund was being almost totally depleted.

Next month the Council will likely set the 2016 maximum millage (assume it will be unchanged from current) and direct staff to reduce it prior to final budget and return some $$ to the taxpayers. At last night’s meeting Premuroso said he wanted a cut of 10-12 points; Council members Russo and Tinsley also expressed their desire to lower millage. While Council member Levy did not say so last night, he was quoted in the Palm Beach Post last week expressing the same sentiment. Mayor Jablin did not comment on millage – however 9 months ago at the budget hearings, when he opposed the minor millage decrease, he did want to look at the possibility of a bigger tax rate cut this year. We’ll be watching and so should you!

The Palm Beach Post covered the Golf Club House discussion here.

All Ordinances and Resolutions passed 5:0

The final discussions and City Attorney report were also of interest:

Citizen Survey Results – Council member Tinsley suggested that there be some form of local transit – perhaps akin to Molly’s Trollies in WPB. She had done some research on alternatives, but in general the rest of the Council was cool to the idea – until/unless Palm Beach Gardens got a Tri-Rail station. Mayor Jablin’s opinion was that only tourists/visitors would be interested in this option.  However all welcomed any private enterprise or the Chamber, if they wished to provide such a service.

North County Park – Council Member Tinsley had been the focal point to review options of the North County District Park (currently owned by the County near the PBG Tennis Center). She discussed what had occurred up until now at the County level, and discussion with District 1 Commissioner Hal Valeche. The Council was also cool to pursuing any aspect of the park and suggested that Hal ‘run with it’. Mr. Ferris did summarize by saying that anything the County proposes would have to have final approval by Palm Beach Gardens – with security, maintenance, traffic issues all impacting the City. The Council anticipated that such a park would be met with similar concerns and opposition as did the proposed Baseball stadium proposed for the site and they were not looking for trouble.

City Attorney Lohman gave an update on the PGA Waterfront project. The Developer went to the County with their updated proposal, and reviewed it with several groups and municipalities, but specifically excluding Palm Beach Gardens. While the City did attend the Board of County Commissioner (BCC) Meeting and express the City’s concerns, they were ignored. Two major issues that the City has are 1) failure to include a right turn lane on PGA Blvd onto Ellison Wilson 2) inability of the PB Gardens Fire/Rescue ladder truck to be able to physically enter the property. The latter is key as historically 50% of all calls to the site were responded to by PB Gardens Fire/Rescue. Lohman requested and received a 5:0 motion to let him proceed with a writ to challenge the approval of the project so that the City’s objections could be heard by the County.

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