Congratulations to the winner in Group 1, Dr. Mark Marciano, who dominated the race with 66% of the vote over challenger Michael Paolercio, and in Group 3 to Matthew Lane who topped 50% in a three way race by 13 votes to avoid a runoff. The Group 5 race moves to a runoff between Rachelle Litt and Joe Russo who captured 37% and 34% respectively in the 4 way race.
Election results last evening were somewhat sporadic, with the Supervisor’s website lagging some of the other reporting sites. Accurate vote counts were not available at pbcelections.org until this morning. At one point during the evening, the wrong candidates were reported in various places as having won or advancing to the runoff. For some reason, Palm Beach County still has difficulty with election results and we really haven’t shaken the “curse of the hanging chad.”
Turnout for the three races averaged about 6200 – about 14% of the registered voters. Although low by November election standards (72% of the Gardens voted for President), it was near the top of the range for a March election. The record was reached in 2014 when 7085 turned out for the Jablin /Peragine race. To find another that surpassed this year’s turnout you need to go back to 2005 when 6400 voted in the Jablin / Sartory contest.
The runoff election will be held on March 28. Historically, turnout drastically declines in runoffs. The last March runoff election in the Gardens was in 2004 when David Levy defeated Carl Sabatello in Group 4. Although 6552 voted in the original contest, only 3850 showed up for the runoff. Mr. Levy got 74% – 2864 votes, which was down from the 2909 he got in the first race. Mr. Sabatello’s votes declined from about 1340 in the first contest to about 1000, so turnout (or lack thereof) can have dramatic results. Mr. Russo and Ms. Litt will have to keep their supporters focused to prevail in two weeks.
There was another runoff in 2004, when 6 candidates competed coincident to the August primary election in Group 1. Three times the August vote turned out in November, giving Hal Valeche a narrow victory over Jodie Barnett. It was the presidential election of course that drove that turnout.
Here are the results as reported by the Supervisor of election:
At the last Council meeting on the budget, with the big jump in property valuations providing a windfall in city taxes, several members of the public suggested that some of it should be returned to the taxpayer in the form of a millage reduction. On the Council, only Mayor Premuroso acknowledged that the outlook is favorable, and the city can afford to do so, proposing that $500K be taken from the “budget stabilization fund”.
Is this appropriate?
Several on the council objected on the basis of the city’s “5 Year Plan”, which calls for the millage to remain at 5.74 for the next 5 years. The Plan is really about revenue and expenditures though, not millage.
Three years ago, in the 2012 budget, the “5 Year Plan” forecast ad-valorem tax revenue in 2015 to be $45.6M. Today’s budget, is in fact $49M, up $3.4M or 7% above the “5 Year Plan”. When including revenue from all sources, it is up $8M or 12.5% above the “5 Year Plan”.
More to the point, in 2012 the “5-Year Plan” projected the 2015 undesignated fund balances (ie. reserves) would be 22% of expenditures – instead we are at 32% – relatively flush with cash.
So it seems that the Mayor is correct – the city certainly has the ability to reduce the millage by some amount.
If you believe that growth in the size of government should be only undertaken with careful consideration, then any increase in spending above what is dictated by population growth and inflation (currently about 1% and 2% respectively) requires an explanation. Holding to that measure would suggest that half of the windfall should be claimed by the city, the other half returned, resulting in a millage of about 5.56.
Any increase above that level should be justified on the basis of specific needs that are immediate and cannot be deferred until future years.
Congratulations to David Levy for winning another 3 years on the City Council. Congratulations also to James D’Loughy for running a good campaign and making the race unusually competitive. The voters have spoken (although only 11% of them did so), and it was good that they had a choice in this race.
From the graph below, you will see that David Levy maintains a strong base of support in Ballen Isles and PGA National, while Mr. D’Loughy picked up support in Frenchman’s Reserve and Creek, coming within 6 votes there.
Click on the map segment for detailed results for that precinct or refer to the table below.