The Best Budget Ever!

While the primary topic for the September 10 City Council meeting was the first hearing of the 2015/2016 Budget, much of the meeting was spent on Public Comment. The chamber was filled with a sea of yellow shirts worn by members of Fire/Rescue and their supporters. Media was also there to capture the action.

First up was Thomas Murphy, President of the PBG Police Foundation to describe the 9-11 Rememberence Essay competition. Then Fire/Rescue Chief Southard introduced the winners – First Place: Brandon Gitto, Second: Rebecca Newbold, Third: Alexis Simm. For more details see here.

September 10, 2015

Senator Abruzzo was to give a Legislative Update, but had to cancel and will do so at a future meeting.

City Manager Ferris had no report, but mentioned that the Purchasing Department – Km! Ra, had once again been honored with a prestigious award. Congratulations!

Most of those present were there for Public Comment which was next. The Fire/Rescue contract expires on 9/30/15 and negotiations had reached an impasse. The 6 speakers spoke on the excellence of Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue/Paramedics, how their lives or loved ones lives had been saved, and the primary issue of salary compression. The Council thanked the speakers, but Mayor Jablin said that he couldn’t comment more due to the negotiations. Council member Russo spoke eloquently on understanding the frustration, that a similar issue had been resolved for the police, and that he expected a resolution for this issue as well. For more details see: the Palm Beach Post summary.   Mayor Jablin then offered a 5 minute recess so that those wanting to leave could clear the chambers.

Three additional folks had comments related to traffic in the Central Avenue/117th Court area. All acknowledged problems in the area, but were not in agreement on the solutions. The Council assured them that before any changes will be made, a lot of work still needs to be done and that it will be the subject of future meetings.

Hal Valeche, County Commissioner District One, spoke emotionally about the passing of long-time aide, Cindy DeFeLippo to Commissioner Marcus and then Valeche. The members of the Council knew her well, and had spoken of her loss in a prior Council meeting.

Finally, Allan Owens, Finance Administrator, gave an excellent presentation on the proposed budget. The Council had challenged staff to come back with a millage rate decrease, yet balance that with fulfilling the needs of the City. Mark Marciano, Chair of the Budget Oversight Committee, gave a report supporting staff’s recommendations. The Council was pleased with the results with Council Member Levy saying “solid budget”, Council Member Tinsley calling it ‘most transparent’, Council Member Russo mentioning that it would be the last budget he votes on, and counseling staff to not add employees; Council Member Premuroso called it a ‘spectacular budget’ and pointed out that millage had been lowered for 2 years ina row, that the budget allowed for funding the IG should the lawsuit appeal be lost, and that in 4 years the general obligation bonds will be gone. Mayor Jablin thanked staff and City Manager Ferris thanked all the department heads for the hard work needed to make this budget happen. Note that this budget still grows by 4%, but less than it would have had millage been kept unchanged.

We in PBGWatch – also thank them all for giving back to the taxpayers. Gardens is to be commended to be one of the few municipalities and taxing authorities to not just gobble up the valuation increase wind-fall. See gardens-budget-splits-the-difference-with-the-taxpayer.

The Second Hearing will be next Thursday, September 17, at 7pm in City Hall.

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