Update: Second Budget Hearing on 9/22 Increased Ad-Valorem Revenue 8.3% and Changed Impact Fees

Update – All Items in the 2nd Hearing and City Council Meeting on 9/22 passed 5:0.  Public Comment on a non-agenda item was made by Mary Ott regarding the City’s towing contract and her filed protest.

September 22, 2016

Mayor Tinsley remarked that City Attorney Lohman will be responding to the protest, following protocol.

The first of two 2016/2017 Budget Hearings was held on 9/8. Most in the audience, however, were there for the presentations of the 9/11 Remembrance Essay Recipient and the Sandhill Crane Juniors Golf Team – Winners of the SFPGA Summer League.  Congratulations all!

City Manager Ferris announced more awards for the one-man Purchasing Department – 2016 Excellence in Procurement award and UPPCC award for Km! Ra – Congratulations! Ferris also showed an animated video of the traffic on 117th Ct – comparing traffic on 8/17/15 vs 8/17/16 highlighting the City’s improvements.

September 8, 2016

Public Comment included:

  • Mark Marciano complementing the City’s sports fields and requesting higher fencing at Gardens Park.
  • Jervonte Edmonds of Delray Beach speaking about his innovative non-profit Suits for Seniors – preparing HS Seniors on proper behavior and tips for job interviews. After an 8 week program, Seniors get a nice fitted suit for their job interviews. He currently has a program in Dwyer HS and was asking the Council to participate in Career Day.
  • Joe Russo congratulated Keith Bryer on his appointment to Fire Chief.

The Consent Agenda passed 5:0

The first hearing of both the 2016/2017 Proposed Budget and the total Impact Fee Revision passed 5:0. The only public comment was by Fred and Iris Scheibl on the budget – pointing out that this is an 8.3% ad-valorem revenue increase, that this will hit non-homestead properties very hard, and to please consider splitting the difference and giving some relief to the tax-payers. Joni Alias had not planned to speak, but felt she had to counter the comments by the Scheibls, in support of the tax increase. See here for a short article on the increase.

All on the Council supported the budget as did the Budget Oversight Committee. Council Member Premuroso, who also advised the Budget Oversight Committee, spoke about the strategy during the hard times, and the current strategy of 5 years of flat millage based on revenue projections. He did not mention, however, that the Ad Valorem revenue expected in 2017 is significantly higher than projected, and almost matches the ad-valorem taxes projected for 2018…  The following chart is from page 51 of the Fiscal Year 2015/2016 Budget


The second hearing for the Proposed Budget and the Impact Fee Revisions will be held on September 22 at 7pm. See the agenda here for any changes. Expect it to be a short meeting. The Consent Agenda includes one Purchase Award for a 3-yr contract/lease for a fleet of golf carts with GPS for Sandhill Crane Golf Club. The item was competitively bid and is valued at $330K.

NOTE: There will be an FDOT Hearing on the Central Boulevard I-95 Interchange on Wednesday, September 28th at City Hall.  See the Notice.

Martino: New Council Members Need to Demonstrate Leadership, Change and Transparency

In March of 2016, the Palm Beach Gardens City Council elections were held. Maria Marino, a new face, was certified as the Group 2 City Councilperson. Because of various court challenges to the election results in Group 4, newcomer Carl Woods had to wait until October 2016 to take his seat on the City Council. Both of these new Councilpersons were elected, in part, as a result of term limits.

Hopefully, Ms. Marino and Mr. Woods, recognize that embedded in their elections is the trust of the voters’ term limit expectations, of which at the top of the list are change and transparency. In my opinion, it is important that these two new Councilpersons move quickly to restore communication, openness, and accountability, as the foremost governing principles of the City Council.

Leadership from Ms. Marino and Mr. Woods must begin in earnest and begin now. As a result of term limits the March 2017 City Council elections will welcome three additional new faces to its body. Expectantly, these new faces will campaign to complete the term limit demands of change and transparency. Ms. Marino and Mr. Woods must provide the inspiration and the direction to motivate the new City Council to embrace the values of communication, openness, and accountability.

With the March 2017 City Council election results will come new potential, new opportunities and new challenges for the City’s future. I would like to offer my congratulations and best wishes for a successful tenure to Ms. Marino and Mr. Woods as they move the City forward..

Gardens Budget to raise taxes 8.3% – largest haul in history

The FY2017 Budget for Palm Beach Gardens will be discussed at the first public hearing on September 8.

Property valuations are up significantly this year, and some jurisdictions are reaping large windfalls by leaving their millage flat. The county for example, will see a tax increase of over 8%, which will be their largest budget in history, growing by $60M in new taxes – bigger than the entire budget for PBG.

The Gardens Council is apparently as greedy as the county and does not propose to return any of the valuation windfall to the taxpayer. It should be noted that this year’s proposed $55M in revenue is the largest budget to date (an increase of $5M), far exceeding those of the boom years of 2007-2008.

As the included chart shows, when the valuation bubble burst in 2008, PBG increased the millage to maintain flat tax revenue around $50M, then relented in 2009 and let revenue decline below $45M as the economy remained stagnant. Now that there is an increase in valuation (over 8% this year) the proposed flat millage will produce a proportional rise in revenue (on top of 5% last year).

Keep in mind that the proposed sales tax surcharge will return a further windfall to the city if it passes, yet that is hardly mentioned. It would be appropriate for the city to reduce the millage this year and keep the tax increase to a more reasonable level.

First 2016/2017 Budget Hearing and City Council Mtg on Thursday 9/8

The next City Council Meeting will be this Thursday, September 8th at 7pm. This is also the first of two public hearings on the proposed budget for 2016/2017.

Consent Agenda – includes 5 Purchase Awards. 4 were openly/competitively bid and the 5th is for an independent contractor agreement with a popular tennis professional already on-board with the City.

City Manager Report – no details listed

Public Hearings and Resolutions:

  • Ordinance 1, 2016 is a total re-write of the City’s Impact Fees. (While these are fees that developers pay, those are typically passed on to buyers.) See the proposed document here
  • Ordinance 7, 2016 is the proposed Budget.
    • “On July 7, 2016, City Council approved Resolution 37, 2016, adopting a proposed maximum millage rate for the City of Palm Beach Gardens for Fiscal Year 2016/2017. The proposed maximum operating millage rate was set at 5.55 and the maximum debt service rate was set at .1281, for a total maximum millage rate of 5.6781, down from the current year total rate of 5.6871. The proposed maximum operating millage rate of 5.55 is 5.99% above the roll-back rate of 5.2361. Millage rates can be lowered at the budget hearings, but they cannot be increased. The first public hearing on the proposed budget will be held on September 8, 2016, at 7:00 pm in the City Council Chambers located at City Hall. The second public hearing on the proposed budget will be held on September 22, 2016, at 7:00 pm in the City Council Chambers.”
    • The Budget Oversight Committee concurs.
    • The Proposed Budget website page has both the Proposed Budget and the Oversight Committee Report.
    • (Note: Perhaps I missed it in both documents but I found no reference to the upcoming Sales Tax Referendum and the wind-fall it would represent to the City, should it pass…)
  • Ordinance 9, 2016 amends the Firefighters Pension Plan to allow the Fire Chief to elect to not-participate in the plan.

Check the agenda to see if any additional items have been added before the meeting here.