Two Budget Hearings result in 7.4% Increase in Property Tax Revenue

The City Council voted to hold operational millage flat at 5.55% at both Fiscal Year 2017/2018 Budget Hearings on September 7 and 25, 2017.  Even for those on the Council who would have liked to reduce property taxes somehow they concluded that it looks worse to residents, and is worse to lower the tax rate now and then have to raise it later. Legislative issues, potential passage of the 2018 ballot question on additional homestead exemptions as well as need for reserves due to storm impacts, all weighed into the debate. See Taxes to rise for many in Palm Beach Gardens from the Post, which covers some of the Council’s rationale.

The Council meetings spanned Hurricane Irma. On the 7th, City Manager Ferris gave a detailed update on Storm Preparation  and then on the 25th gave a summary of the actions taken to recover from the storm and bring the City back to full function as soon as possible.

The September 7th council meeting also passed 5:0 first readings on:

September 7, 2017
  • Ban of Medical Marijuana Treatment Facilities and Dispensaries
  • Moratorium on Micro Wireless Facilities until December 31, 2017 – allowing regulations to be developed consistent with State statute
  • Rearrangement of Floodplain Management Regulations

Also passed were:

  • 2nd Reading and Adoption of Operation of Mobile Food Trucks
  • Art in Public Places resolution for La Posada
  • Approval of FPL Watts Substation on utility parcel at Alton

The September 25th council meeting featured a short presentation by Joseph St. Germain on the 2017 Resident Opinion Survey. The survey can be read in its entirety here  and the Post has a short recap. The survey was quoted in several places in the budget documents to bolster rationale for future action plans.

September 25, 2017

Summaries by the council during Items of Resident Interest raised issues with recent (and expected) actions by the State Legislature that severely impact Home Rule.

Besides the adoption of the Tax Levy and Millage rate and the adoption of the FY 2017/2018 Budget, the council passed 2nd reading on the two ordinances related to the Floodplain Management Regulations 5:0.

The October 12th City Council meeting will feature the recommendations and report of the Charter Review Committee.

Flush with cash for $50 Million for Capital Improvements

Save the dates!

  • Thursday August 24FDOT Workshop – Staff and their consulting teams have been invited by the City to present at this workshop to provide the most recent plans regarding upcoming Interchange Improvements at: I-95 and Central Boulevard I-95 and PGA Boulevard I-95 and Northlake Boulevard, Northlake Boulevard and Beeline Highway This workshop style meeting is designed to allow the public to engage with FDOT representatives and have their project questions answered. This was a workshop requested by Council Member Woods earlier in the spring and should be of interest to residents and anyone who travels in North County.
  • Thursday Sept 7  and Monday Sept 25 for FY 2017/2018 Budget Hearings
  • Also – for those interested in the meetings of the Charter Review Committee – those will be on the City Calendar and are open to the public.
August 3, 2017

The August City Council meeting was relatively brief. Fire Explorer Nick Swan was honored for his heroism in a Tequesta fire in August 2016. See the PB Post article on his bravery. The City’s Police Explorers placed Second in the state for this years’ competitions.

All items passed 5:0 except for Consent Agenda Item Hospitality Staffing Services for Sandhill Crane Golf Club from which Council Member Lane recused himself.

City Manager Ferris gave an update on the current status of the numerous Capital Improvement Projects in the City. The $30 million in Sales Tax related projects coupled with the $20 million in budgeted construction projects are project managed by a team of 3 staff who Ferris will acknowledge in September. For a detailed list plus status see here or watch Mr. Ferris’ segment of the meeting. In addition, he played a short clip of the City’s Head Golf Professional Sherri Pla which can also be seen above.

Resolution 44, 2017 – Adoption of the City’s Annual Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Action Plan was accompanied by a video (some of it taken with the Police Department drone) highlighting three re-roofing projects accomplished with the prior year’s grant. Resident Christen OConnor, one of the homeowners assisted by the grant gave a heartfelt thanks.

When Resolution 50, 2017 – Appointment of members to the Charter Review Committee came up for discussion, Vice Mayor  Marciano wanted to open discussion on what the others on the Council were looking for in their nominees. However, Mayor Marino countered that clear directions and criteria was given to the Council and that the nominees should be listed and voted upon immediately. No other  council member made comment other than to give their nominations and all were approved with a single motion. Congratulations to the following active residents on their nominations:  Craig Allgood – nominated by Rachelle Litt; Ian Helsby nominated by Matthew Lane; Steve Mathison nominated by Carl Woods, Meg Shannon nominated by Mark Marciano and Brian Seymour nominated by Maria Marino.

Additionally – Mobile Food Trucks will now be subject to streamlined permitting by Ordinance 17, 2017. Also Eric Bruns of West Palm Beach, a recently returned veteran, spoke about his 501c3, Voice for Veterans which aids with education, training and mentoring for recently returned vets to obtain meaningful employment.

The City Attorney was not asked if he had a report and the meeting was concluded.

Effusive Praise Abounds

After Mayor Marino called for a moment of silence for Fire Rescue Lieutenant Gary Bussey – the City Council Meeting proceeded through numerous recognition events with accompanying picture taking sessions. Items of Resident Interest continued the highlighting of additional city employee accomplishments by Council Member Woods, and proceeded through the City Manager Report where there was even more praise – culminating in the annual City Manager Evaluation – which couldn’t be better.

Interspersed in this love fest was some new City Business. The Consent Agenda, and Resolutions all passed 5:0.

July 13, 2017

Highlights:

  • State Senator Bobby Powell delivered an outstanding power-point presentation summarizing the just completed Legislative Session and pointing out those items of special interest to the City of Palm Beach Gardens. Here is a link.  It is well worth watching for an easy to understand summation.
  • Vice-Mayor Marciano asked that Resolution 45, 2017 be pulled from Consent; Planning and Zoning Director Natalie Crowley gave a quick overview of the future Palm Beach Gardens Tri-Rail station area planning, and introduced Kim DeLaney, Director of Strategic Development and Policy for Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council who will serve as the project manager on the strategic plan development. There will be public workshops in the fall – watch for them.
  • Council Member Lane requested that the Purchase Award for the new Tennis Center Clubhouse be pulled from Consent. Director of the Purchasing Department Km! Ra and Laura Schuppert, Recreation Director – described the need for an enlarged Clubhouse, explained that the $3 million is covered by the Sales Tax funding, and presented the Council with an animated walk-through of the new Clubhouse.
  • Mayor Marino had two proclamations pulled from Consent as well – to recognize two Entrepreneur Score Winners who were given an opportunity to speak about their businesses.
  • After a brief overview by Finance Administrator Allan Owens, the Council set the Maximum Millage Rate for fiscal year 2017/2018 to its current Operational Rate of 5.55 mils and slightly decreased .1178 debt service for an overall millage of 5.6678 – which will be used by the County Property Appraiser to send out the Trim Notices in August. This represents a tax increase since property values have appreciated significantly.   (It should be noted that the city has not made the budget proposal detail available to the public yet – so the total dollar amount to be raised in taxes (which expected to be more than 5% over last year) or how it is to be allocated was known only to staff, the council and the budget committee. This effectively precluded any intelligent comment by the public before they set the maximum millage rate. The county, and many other municipalities are much more open and transparent in this regard.) Discussion during the item, and later during Items for Council Action/Discussion was mixed. Vice Mayor Marciano, who had served on the Budget Oversight Committee for five years, asked the Council to individually think about whether there was possible room for at least token relief to the tax-payer. Mayor Marino and Council Member Woods were firm that there was no room for consideration of any such tax relief. The first Public Hearing on the Budget will be on September 7.
  • The Council approved the establishment of the Charter Review Committee and Timeline. Resident Iris Scheibl requested that any proposed Charter changes, especially pertaining to something like Elections, be placed on the November 2018 ballot instead of the March Uniform Municipal Elections due to the expected very low turnout in March. Vice-Mayor Marciano replied that he spoke with SOE Bucher and that she rejected November out-right. There was no other discussion. The Council Members will put their nominations for the Charter Review Committee members to staff by July 24th and they will be voted upon in the August 3rd City Council Meeting.
  • City Attorney Lohman informed the Council that the City lost on appeal the case with Sears  and that he recommended that the Council repeal Ordinance 20, 2012 which was found to be unconstitutional. The Council will vote on such an ordinance next meeting. The City will be responsible to Sears for legal fees yet to be determined.
  • During Public CommentTom Cairnes, of the PGA Corridor Association, praised City Manager Ferris and reminded the public of the 9/13 Mobility Around the Gardens event that was mentioned last month.  Tom Murphy of the Police Foundation described the 10th annual Police Foundation Golf Tournament to raise funds for the Police Explorers.

The next council meeting will be held on August 3rd.

 

Council Eliminates Liaison Role to City Committees and Boards

Following is a summary of the June 1st meeting.   The key policy change that was made was the elimination of council member liaisons to various City boards and committees in Ordinance 14, 2017 described below.

June 1, 2017

Announcement and Presentations:

  • State Representative Rick Roth spoke on several bills – the most discussion with the Council related to the impact on local or home rule by “WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY: Limits local governments from regulating types of equipment known as “small wireless facilities” in public rights of ways that are used for new 5G wireless technology. (HB 687)” which could over-ride local zoning in placement of towers/devices.
  • Marcum LLP, the City’s external auditor, gave the 2016 budget documents rave reviews with a ‘clean opinion’ and ‘no findings’.

Items of Resident Interest and Board/Committee Reports:

Council Member Woods asked the Council (who agreed) to ask that the City Manager have a Workshop by FDOT on the three I-95 interchanges (Northlake, PGA and Central) to inform the public on proposed traffic movement and right-of-way issues in August. Most of the FDOT workshops have been interchange specific which doesn’t get at City-wide issues and traffic movement.

Comments from the Public:

  • John Channing – of the PGA Corridor Association, took over from his brother Joel Channing. He mentioned the 4th Annual Mid-Year Economic Update, given by Dr. Weiss and mentioned a 9/13/17 event to be held at the Embassy Suites on Mobility Around the Gardens
  • Don Mathis – discussed the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) stating an issue with all projects scheduled for the same construction year and referred the Council to WPB or Boca for ideas on how to change this.
  • 3 Employees of Gander Mountain spoke on the imminent closing of Gander Mountain (Travis Holmes, Jon Bagley and Lance B (sorry – he didn’t give address)), the potential loss of 70 to 100 plus (in season) jobs, if the new owner, Camping World is prohibited from displaying RVs outside dues to zoning. They and fellow employees who did not speak, were asked to wait until later in the meeting so the item could be addressed by Council and staff.

City Manager Report:

City Manager Ferris highlighted several recent awards, gave a brief presentation on before/after pictures of the impacts of Code Enforcement and mentoned a city-held event on Weather The Storm (hurricane preparedness) this Thursday, June 8 from 6-8.

Consent Agenda:

Council Member Lane asked that Item D on Consent be pulled for a presentation by Purchasing Manager Km! Ra on Municipal Complex Renovations ($668K). The rest of the Consent Agenda passed 5:0 as did Item D.

Ordinances and Resolutions:

  • Ordinance 11, 2017 second reading and adoption of Specialty Pet Boarding passed 4:1 with Council Member Lane objecting. He pointed out that while the facilities themselves would have to be entirely enclosed, the animals would have to be brought in and out of the facilities and at some point ‘neighbors’ would object.
  • Ordinance 14, 2017 Second Reading and Adoption regarding Procedures to fill board/committee vacancies, modify how absences are handled, and (most importantly,) alter the policy of having Council Liaisons to various Boards and Committees. County Attorney Lohman’s primary position was that the County Ordinance regarding the Sales Tax called for independent boards, and by expanding the City’s Budget Oversight Committee’s role to oversee the handling of the ‘penny’ sales tax, that committee was precluded from having a Council liaison. Don Mathis made public comment declaring the Council Liaison, especially on the Budget Oversight Committee, invaluable. The Council briefly explored having the Budget Oversight Committee divide their meetings into Budget and Sales Tax, with the Liaison only participating in the former. Vice-Mayor Marciano rightly pointed out that the voters, who the Council  represents, would be left out by the lack of liaison. Both Marciano and Council Member Lane reiterated their transparency and value issues from the prior Council meeting. To Mayor Marino and Council Member Woods, the issue seemed clear cut, and the value of liaisons to other boards seemed of lesser import. Mayor Marino compared the City policy to that of Jupiter, who didn’t have liaisons. Council Member Litt was torn, opining that all the input she got favored the continuance of liaisons, but she couldn’t see treating the Budget Oversight Committee exceptionally. With the vote of 3:2 (Lane, Marciano opposing), the Council ‘threw out the baby with the bathwater’ by eliminating board and committee transparency and interaction with our elected representatives while not modifying the Ordinance in any way to allow for interaction with the boards .
  • In passing 5:0 both Resolution 42, 2017 – Opposing Conversion Therapies and Resolution 43, 2017 – Opposing Use of Exotic Animals in Circuses, our new council veered into Social and potentially Religious issues – passing non-binding, opinion resolutions.  Here is the Palm Beach Post’s coverage of Resolution 42, 2017./

Items for Council Action/Discussion:

  • Gander Mountain – Mayor Marino thanked the Gander Mountain employees for staying. Natalie Crowley, Director of Planning and Zoning, gave a recap on the original Gander Mountain zoning (which would not have allowed for outside RV display). She had not yet been formally contacted by Camping World and was willing to work with them through issues, eg with such a display would there be adequate parking. Director Crowley needs to see a plan from the owner before discussions can proceed.  See Palm Beach Post coverage here.
  • Charter Review CommitteeVice-Mayor Marciano had requested a time-line and proposal.  Staff suggested that any proposed Charter changes be on the March 2018 ballot. The Council did not dispute staff’s opinion that the changes could not be on the November ballot, and accepted staff’s comments that August 2018 would be too busy a ballot reiterating the ‘voter fatigue’ meme that was used by staff in 2012 and with term limits in 2014 – not mentioning that both proposals were on the November ballots in 2012 and 2014 respectively, and voter turn-out is largest. 
  • Lastly, Finance Administrator Allan Owens discussed the impacts should the expanded Homestead Exemption to $75K be approved by voters in November 2018. He and the City Manager made the case that had this not passed to be placed on the ballot, perhaps a small decrease in ad valorem tax rate could have been entertained, but now, not so much, by threatening the budget stabilization reserve fund which the prior Council spent down earlier in the year.

Reminder – the July City Council Meeting will be held on Thursday, July 13 at 7pm.

New Council Asserts Itself

The May 4th City Council Meeting was the first full meeting of the new Council, and while all but two items passed  5:0 there were interesting discussions as the new members felt their way.

Announcements included an update on the Palm Beach North Initiative, and plans for The District (which would be an entirely refashioned Downtown at the Gardens).  See Sarah Peters article on the new plans here. 

Items of Resident Interest was fairly lengthy as the Council recounted their activities for the month.

May 4, 2017

During Public Comment, former Mayor Jablin read a proclamation honoring City Clerk Snider, in honor of Municipal Clerks’ annual recognition. The only other public comment was made during discussion of the County District Park.

City Manager Ferris announced awards and what will be national media coverage of the City’s Golf Professional, Sherri Pla.  The annual City’s Memorial Day event will be on May 29th at 9am at Veterans’ Plaza.  In response to discussion from the April Meeting on how to best structure outreach to residents, including those who do not have HOAs or gated communities, Mr. Ferris announced a new Speakers’ Bureau, which gives a way (including online access) for groups to request either Council members and/or staff to come speak on topics.  The City Clerk would refer those to the Mayor for appropriate action.  Council Member Marciano, who was the one who had requested ideas for this last month, hoped that this format would allow for ‘listening’ style meetings.  Council Member Woods was concerned that council members could be greeted by angry residents and there was some discussion that residents should be able to voice their views and it shouldn’t be contentious unless the ‘listener’ made it so.  Mayor Marino suggested that if a topic requires specific knowledge that the speaker doesn’t have, that they be accompanied by someone from staff that could assist in answering questions.  Each of the Council wants to see the entire list of requests.  (Editorial comment – those residents who don’t live in organized subdivisions or participate in some organizations or groups, would not necessarily be served by a format where they have to request such a meeting.  The concept of town halls as discussed during the campaigns would be outreach to the public, not the public having to reach out to the government.  It will be interesting to see how this works out).

All Ordinances and Resolutions except for Ordinance 11, 2017 (Specialty Pet Boarding) and Ordinance 14, 2017 (Handling of Board and Committee Appointments, Attendance and Council Liaisons) passed 5:0. Council Member Lane was concerned about the types of pets that would be covered by Ordinance 11, 2017 in the future and so voted NO on that item, which passed 4:1 on First Reading.  Both Council Members Marciano and Lane had concerns about eliminating the liaison role of Council on committees.  Marciano had appreciated the participation and insight of former Mayor Premuroso on the Budget Oversight Committee and felt that Mr. Premuroso brought back the Committee’s perspectives to Council discussion.  Lane felt the same about Mayor Marino’s role on the Parks and Rec Board. Mayor Marino suggested that there be requirement of some kind for the boards and committees to formally present to the Council – but nothing was discussed to flesh out that suggestion.  Ordinance 14, 2017 passed 3:2 on First Reading.

Resolution 38, 2017 authorized City Manager Ferris to negotiate and execute interlocal agreements with the County and to spend up to $11.2 million on the effort to construct the new District Park.  Council Member Lane, while in full support of the Park, was concerned about the ‘blank check’ aspect of the Resolution as written, and felt that there should be more direct Council involvement as well as a workshop on the topic.  City Manager Ferris took offense at Council Member Lane’s comments and implied that such oversight would delay the Park by a couple of years.  After further discussion, and Public Comment by Michelle Lewis in support of the park, the resolution passed 5:0.

During Items for Council Discussion, Council Member Lane suggested that the Agenda format be re-ordered to move Items of Resident Interest, City Manager Report and some presentations to later in the meeting so that Items for Council Discussion appear earlier in the meeting when there are people present to hear them.  The response by the City Manager and Mayor was that it was the City Manager who makes up the meeting, and that the Agenda as currently structured would stay as is.  Resident Joan Elias also supported keeping the agenda the same.  Council Member Marciano requested that next month a Charter Review timeline and process be presented and discussed.

A New Council Takes the Reins

The Council Chambers were packed with friends and family of the incoming and outgoing Council members on Thursday, Apr 6th. Mayor Tinsley called the meeting to order, and after the Pledge of Allegiance and acceptance of the results of the Municipal Election, she, Vice-Mayor Jablin and Council Member Premuroso stepped off the dais while incoming members Mark Marciano, Matthew Lane and Rachelle Litt each took their oaths of office and took their places at the dais. At this point, City Manager Ferris spoke about his relationship with each of the outgoing members and presented each with crystal gavels as a token of the City’s appreciation for their accomplishments, love of and dedication to Palm Beach Gardens.

April 6, 2017

Next came the nomination and appointment of the Mayor and Vice-Mayor. In both cases, Council Member Lane moved to nominate and close nominations for Maria Marino and Mark Marciano, respectively. Both were voted-in unanimously and new Mayor Marino took the gavel.

Comments from the public included welcomes and well wishes from Tom Cairnes of PGA Corridor, Ken Tooma, also of the PGA Corridor, former Mayor Joe Russo, former Mayor David Levy, Gunster Attorney, Gardens resident and member of many PB County organizations Brian Seymour, resident Pat Hughey, former Council candidates Joseph R. Russo and Michael Paolercio.  Margaret Kennard of North Palm Beach addressed concerns about handicapped space distance from Planet Fitness and asked that the Council address alternatives. Tom Murphy, President of the Palm Beach Gardens Police Foundation spoke of upcoming two $2500 scholarships along with welcomes to the new council.

As the Council turned to business, the chambers literally cleared out, leaving a handful of folks and staff for the remainder of the meeting. Both Ordinance 12, 2107 (and related Resolution 22, 2017) second reading and adoption, and Ordinance 13, 2017 passed 5:0.

There were no City Manager or City Attorney reports.

During Items for Council Action and Discussion, each of the new Council members expressed in turn what their election meant to them and their hopes for the City’s future. Vice Mayor Marciano asked City Manager Ferris for some ideas on how to coordinate future outreach by the Council to the communities throughout the City. He expressed the idea for town-hall (our term, not his) type get-togethers in both those communities that have HOAs (and respective club houses) and those that don’t (perhaps having such informal meetings at the library). We are very supportive of Marciano’s proposal and hope that it will be a continuous effort by the Council members.  This will be discussed further in the May City Council meeting, as will board and committee assignments for the Council Members.

Mayor Marino also pointed out that only 2 members of the public attended the New Council Orientation earlier in the week and hoped that others would take the time to view it online. It has an excellent overview of the various responsibities of the Council and staff alike and we encourage any future candidates and all residents to check it out here.

We also wish to thank former Mayors Jablin, Premuroso and Tinsley for their contributions to the City, and congratulate the new council for taking on the responsibilities and commitment to Palm Beach Gardens!

Is it Architecture or Art, Plus Council Goodbyes

This, the last full Council meeting for three of the members, began with heartfelt thanks and goodbyes from Council Member Premuroso, Vice Mayor Jablin and Mayor Tinsley during Items of Resident Interest. See Sarah Peter’s article here.

Comments from the Public also were related to their upcoming departure, with former Mayor Joe Russo, Tom Cairnes of the PGA Corridor, Joseph R Russo and Joanie Elias all thanking the departing council and recounting memories and accomplishments.

March 2, 2017

Resolution 30, 2017 sparked the most fireworks at a Council meeting in quite awhile. Mayor Tinsley had asked that the item be moved to immediately following 2nd reading and adoption of Ordinance 9, 2017 and its associated Resolution 20, 2017 which approved the Gardens Corporate Center PUD – with two eleven story office buildings and a three story garage for the NE corner of PGA Blvd and Alt A1A. The corporate center was approved 5:0 with pyramids (shown in the picture). The controversy arose over the applicant’s request to consider the two pyramids atop the office buildings as art, to meet the AIPP (Art in Public Places) requirement for the complex. gdnscorpctrThe City requires that 1% of the cost of the $40 million project be alloted to AIPP. The cost of the two pyramids atop the buildings come out to almost $1 million, thus over twice the amount needed to meet the AIPP requirements. However staff disagreed strenuously that the pyramids were an intrinsic part of the buildings and in the approval of related waivers (eg height) and were NOT art. The disagreement began immediately with a request by the developer’s representative to postpone the Resolution 30, 2017 to the May City Council meeting. This would mean that an entirely new Council would be hearing the request, while the current Council – which had been involved with the project and just approved it, would have no say. After hearing arguments on both sides, Council Member Woods wanted to postpone to the May meeting, and Council Member Marino also wanted postponement as well. Vice Mayor Jablin made a motion to not postpone the discussion. The motion passed 3:2 with Marino and Woods voting nay.

Both the developer and staff then made their presentations. The developer made his case based on lack of functionality of the pyramids, that the Corporate Center’s site was not visible to the public while the pyramids would be seen by those driving in any direction, and that they were designed by an artist. Staff reiterated that the building approvals were obtained with the pyramids there, that one of the requirements of AIPP is that the artwork be unique (but the buildings are inspired by almost identical building pair in Miami where the pyramids were not counted as art), and that a 2007 ordinance specifically rejects architectural features as art. After much discussion, the Council voted 5:0 to reject the applicant’s request. Council Member Woods did offer compromise suggestions saying that perhaps the developer could do something art-related with the water wall. However staff was quick to point out that the water wall itself was not art and that an art element would have to be added. But that is for a future discussion with the new council.

All other Ordinances and Resolutions passed 5:0 with little discussion. Kathryn Gettinger made comments regarding Ordinances 7 and 8 2017 raising her concerns about the regulations with respect to wheel stops and parking on the grass. George Wicker, on the board at Ballenisles spoke in favor of Resolution 21, 2017 amending documents for the development.

There were no City Manager and City Attorney reports.

“Artistry”, Art, Live Theater and $30 Million Bond Awarded to PNC Bank

This month’s agenda was long and so was the City Council Meeting – however all was completed within about 3 hours and all items were passed 5:0 except for the Second Reading of Ordinance 3, 2017 which passed 3:2, as it did on First Reading.  Mayor Tinsley and Council Member Premuroso both voted against, citing that their concerns and comments were unchanged from last month.  A brief summary follows of key discussion items.

February 9, 2017

Presentations:

City Attorney Lohman gave an overview of a draft ordinance on how to deal with reasonable accomodation for disabilities. While applicable to Sober Homes, the ordinance would apply to all and would entail a set of procedures, annual recertification and associated regulatory costs. The State Legislature is also proposing bills as part of their Sober Homes Task Force. See Sarah Peters’ article: How a new rule could help gardens keep tabs on sober homes. 

Items of Resident Interest:   Council Member Marino (and the rest of the Council) was pleased that in his annual presentation to the PGA Corridor Association, Dr. Hank Fishkind praised and supported the Council’s decision to go for a $30 million bond at this time, citing low interest rates.

City Manager Report:   City Manager Ferris summarized two golf-related events and then gave examples of Code Compliance success stories, and in the case of those unable to afford to bring their properties up to compliance, the coordination of volunteers to help achieve it.

Ordinances and Resolutions:

  • Resolution 14, 2017 awarded the issuance of the $30 million bond to PNC Bank National Association. Their proposal was the most competitive of those submitted. Finance Administrator Allan Owens also reiterated Dr. Fishkind’s endorsement of bonding the sales tax revenue. The 3 year spending requirement was summarized once again.  Municipal Bonds are tax exempt and any funds remaining at the end of the 3 years can’t be invested at higher yields than gotten from the bonds.  Resident Kathryn Gettinger asked about the specificity of the list of projects and what happens if the County land can’t be purchased. Mayor Tinsley confirmed that the list of projects identified last month were the projects to which the money would be allocated and that progress was being made on the County’s land. Mr. Owens, in replying to a similar question also said the list was solidified but the specific costs for each project could and would be adjusted as actual costs came in.  salestaxprojects
  • Ordinance 10, 2017 placed the proceeds of the bond into a single capital improvement fund to be applied to the projects codified last month, with the addition of the Tennis Center.
  • The most major modification in Ordinance 7, 2017 fixing the ‘glitch’ list on the Land Use Regulations, last updated in 2013, was a new section on Valet Parking. There was discussion among the council members on how quickly to implement and enforce the new regulations. Most felt that the proposed date of October, 2017 would allow the affected centers and businesses to be informed, apply and conform to the changes.
  • First reading of Ordinance 9, 2017 repealed the original plans for the project from 2001 for the Intersection of PGA and Alternate A1A and introduced the new plans for 2 Eleven Story professional office buildings with a 3 story parking garage in between. The Council praised the artistic nature of the buildings and the picture here shows the view of the buildings from the PGA Flyover.  gdnscorpctr
  • Speaking of art – Resolution 17, 2017 now permits the PGA Multiplex Cinema to have live entertainment. While no new dining options are planned, other than the usual movie theater concession choices, the owner does plan to come forward in the future to seek wine and beer licensing. Two of the six theaters will be used for live entertainment performances (such as musicals, comedians and small plays) with matinee and evening shows.
  • Art (in Public Places) was also discussed in Resolution 19, 2017 which approved the latest Artistic Sculpture by Mark aippethaneFuller to be placed on Donald Ross parkway buffer adjacent to Alton PCD. The only modification made to the Ordinance was to have the sculpture lit from dusk to dawn. The stainless steel sculpture is of an Ethane Molecule.
  • Resolution 18, 2017 approved “Artistry”, which is the new 469 Single Family home community as part of the Alton PCD. Homes will range from $750K-$1.5 Million on the Parcel G site west of I-95.

Overfull Agenda Spills Over to Second Day

NOTE: The February City Council meeting will be held on Thursday February 9th – save the date!

The January 5th City Council Meeting had so many topics that two of the most significant items – handling of the expected Sales Tax Surtax dollars and Future Annexation Plans for 26 areas, spilled over until Friday January 6th. Thus some of those 24 or so speakers who patiently waited until the Thursday meeting was adjourned at about 11:20 pm, had to return on Friday.

Thursday’s meeting included:

January 5, 2017
  • Presentation of a check for almost $19K to the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center money raised through the City’s Annual Mayor’s Veterans Golf Classic. The PBG Police Foundation also raised $5K.
  • A short video on the Honda Classic by Ken Kennerly and Andrew George, Tournament Staff. The Honda Classic dates this year are February 20-26. Big news during the week was that Tiger Woods would be participating and sales have gone ‘through the roof’!
  • FDOT’s Scott Thurman, Project Manager for the I-95/Northlake Interchange project, reviewed 3 alternatives. See more details on the project website.
  • Police Chief Stepp and City Attorney Max Lohman gave an update on Sober Homes. The City will participate in State Attorney Aronberg’s Sober Home Task Force. There are regulations that could be customized and implemented by the City that would apply to all rentals but would be useful. The Sober Home hotline for the County is 1-844-324-5463. See Palm Beach Post’s article here.
  • Consent Agenda passed 5:0
  • 2nd Reading and Adoption of Avenir’s Community Development District passed 5:0. Christine Schwartz, resident of the Acreage, spoke against CDDs in general, describing the process as ‘taxation without representation’.
  • Ordinances 1 and 2, 2017 were amending and rezoning what will be Trevi Isles – a 12.5 acre parcel on the North side of Hood Road immediately West of the Turnpike. Mayor Tinsley recused herself as her husband has done work with the developer. Residents and representatives of the Eastpointe community immediately adjacent to the west of the parcel spoke against the development. Eastpointe is not a part of the City. Some of the comments made were: Hood Road safety and traffic, that when the City annexed the parcel it was to be left as wetlands, issues about drainage where Eastpointe’s drainage system and Trevi Isles would be separate. The Council voted 4:0 to pass.
  • Ordinance 3, 2017 was the annual Budget amendment reconciling 2016 to 2017 realities. The amendment moves $4.5 million out of the Budget Stabilization Reserve Account with $3.67 in new, not previously discussed spending on Sandhill Crane Golf Course, Clubhouse and a Golf Training Facility.  Council Member Premuroso praised the Finance team on their handling of the Budget however thought that the Council should wait until after the election to allow the new Council to decide on new spending out of the Budget Stabilization Reserve Account. Mayor Tinsley felt similarly that some of the bigger items not currently in the Budget should be delayed. However Vice Mayor Jablin, Council Members Marino and Woods were in strong agreement that the decision should be made by the current council, were thrilled with the golf course improvements and the item passed 3:2.
  • Ordinance 4, 2017 – The Annexation of Osprey Isles, Carleton Oaks, Star of David Cemetery and West Palm Beach Fire Station #8 will be on the March 14, 2017 ballot so that the residents of those communities can vote on the issue.
  • Ordinance 5 established new responsibilities of the Budget Oversight Review Board to include the Sales Tax Surtax and passed 5:0.
  • Resolution 4, 2017 amending the site plan for Gardens Mall will allow the new Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant in the area between Macy’s and Sears including outdoor seating. Resolution 7 will allow the development of a gated townhome community and specialty grocery in the area of Midtown at the Gardens just East of Shady Lakes. Residents from Shady Lakes expressed their concerns about traffic and safety in an area already difficult to traverse. Both resolutions passed 5:0.

Friday’s meeting covered the two remaining agenda items:

January 6, 2017
  • Sales Tax Surtax – Resolution 12, 2017 on the discussion of a formal policy and plans on the spending of the expected revenues from the infrastructure Sales Tax Surtax passed in November, 2016. The revenue is expected to be about $35 million over 10 years, however the Council and staff, in less than 3 hours, eagerly and unanimously approved plans to borrow, and spend $30 million in less than 3 years. Many people came out in support of the spending on the park plans, and only two people, Council candidates Joe Russo and Kathryn Gettinger expressed caution. (Editorial comment: When one considers how much time has been spent in past meetings on details of signage, wall height and plantings for various projects, the lack of debate or discussion seems breathtaking.) For more details on the meeting see the Palm Beach Post coverage here.
  • Annexation Study and Policy – Last on the agenda was Resolution 13, 2017 – a very long and detailed study of future annexation areas. Twenty-six areas were analysed for potential annexation with the policy whenever possible to be Voluntary (such as the Balsamo property annexed last year); enclaves of 110 acres or less through interlocal agreements (eg with the County), and Involuntary Annexation – such as the Carlton Oaks et al annexation approved in Ordinance 4, 2017 above. “Annexation is part of the City’s sustainable growth strategy. It is a tool to increase the City’s revenue, compact boundaries, utilize tax dollars in most efficient way, and to provide better services for residents.” There was public comment from two individuals – one had suggestions for better itemizing the benefits to annexed businesses and homeowners; the second speaker was the Village Planner of North Palm Beach. A few of the areas listed were also overlapping with future annexation areas of North Palm Beach. Discussions to resolve those overlaps were started in 2010 but were not resolved. The speaker submitted a letter from North Palm Beach to resume those discussions, as well as a letter from Karen Marcus who was unable to attend on Friday. The Council gushed over the report and plan and passed it 5:0.

Community Healing, Roads and Avenir Progress

Note: Not listed on the City’s calendar but of public interest – Vice Mayor Jablin will conduct a ceremony lighting the Menorah for Hanukkah on Wednesday,December 28 at 6pm by the tree at Burns Rd Community Center – all are welcome.

The last City Council meeting of the year was relatively short but covered a range of topics.

Candice Temple, Media Relations Manager, gave a synopsis of November 19th’s Unity Day (Palm Beach Gardens and the Anita Banks Justice for Corey Foundation), and presented a beautiful painting of Corey Jones with wishes posted during the event to Sheila Banks and Terry Banks – Corey’s aunt and uncle. See an image of the painting in Sarah Peter’s article. 

December 1, 2016

During Comments from the Public:

  • I-95 Central Blvd InterchangeDon Mathis spoke in-depth on flaws in the FDOT models and assumptions used for the I-95 Central Blvd Interchange. One specific example he cited were the additional trips modeled for Kyoto Gardens Drive – 2600 new jobs but only 100 extra trips in the morning and 200 in the afternoon? Also the PGA interchange had flaws. Don said that staff has not presented an accurate picture of FDOT’s plans. He is doing this on behalf of several homeowners and by himself. Don provided staff with his documents and staff will review it in the future.
  • Gardens of Woodbury (along Shady Lakes Drive) Residents Marty Gronek, David Einhorn and Scott Workman (attorney for Gardens of Woodbury HOA) asked for a wall or better noise abatement and traffic calming measures, as were provided along Shady Lakes subdivision. Mr. Workman thanked Council Member Woods for taking the time to meet with the concerned residents. City Engineer Todd Engle then gave a presentation showing the mature trees that line the road, landscaping plans, and explaining why the oak trees make a wall impractical/impossible.

avenircddFirst Reading of Ordinance 17, 2016 was to establish a Community Development District (CDD) for Avenir. (CDD Definition. A Community Development District (CDD) is a local, special purpose government authorized by Chapter 190 of the Florida Statutes as amended and is an alternative method for managing and financing infrastructure required to support community development.) This would be in lieu of an HOA. Council confirmed that the CDD area described excludes any of the land area donated to the City of Palm Beach Gardens. For more information see this article.

Consent Agenda Items and 2nd Reading and Adoption Items all passed 5:0.  All on the Council wished everyone Happy Holidays.

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