Next City Council Meeting on October 12th, 2017 at 7pm

The next City Council Meeting will be on Thursday Oct. 12th at 7pm in City Hall.  

Agenda Highlights:

  • Charter Review Committee Final Report
Announcements/Presentations:
  • Charter Review Committee Final Report  – The Charter Review Committee met several times and has submitted recommended modifications to the City's Charter including:
    • elimination of duplicative, 'unneccesary', or sections covered by State Statute
    • removing residence requirement for City Manager
    • increasing number of allowed consecutive Council Member terms
    • allowing for term-limited Council Members to run again
    • changes to Council Member Elections – allowing for plurality instead of majority, and not counting certain votes when tallying total number of votes in election results.
  • The report can be read here.  The Council will decide which if any of the proposed changes will be placed on the March 2018 Uniform Municipal Elections ballot in ordinance(s) to appear on the November and December agendas.
Consent Agenda includes:
  • Purchase Award for Rental of Motor Vehicles (Police) – 5 year contract to rent unmarked vehicles on an as-needed basis.  $40K/year for 5 years for total contract of $200K.  Not publicly solicited.
  • Purchase Award for Management of Food and Beverage Operations at Sandhill Crane Golf Club – bid waiver since sole bid responder was not recommended by the Selection Committee. Contract value of $1 million over 5 years;  One Million Dollars (expected revenue to City over First Term). Option to renew for two additional 5-year periods.
  • Purchase Award – Piggyback/Access contract to construct a public safety training complex for the Police and Fire Rescue Departments, value $250K.

City Manager Report  – no details listed

Public Hearings and Resolutions:
  • Ordinance 22, 2017 – 2nd Reading and Adoption of the Ban of Medical Marijuana Treatment Facilities which passed on First Reading 5:0 on September 7th
  • Ordinance 23, 2017 – 2nd Reading and Adoption of a Moratorium on Micro Wireless Facilities through December 31, 2017, which passed on First Reading 5:0 on September 7th
  • Resolution 71, 2017 – to approve a miscellaneous amendment allowing for 3 Residential Community Entry Signs for Burwick Residential Community in PGA National
  • Resolution 68, 2017 – Appointments and Re-appointments to the Art in Public Places Advisory Board (AIPP)
  • Resolution 69, 2017 – Appointments and Re-appointments to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board
  • Resolution 70, 2017 – Appointments and Re-appointments to the Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board (PZAB)

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

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.

The PBG Budget and the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR)

The 2018 PBG Budget raises $4.1M in new taxes, up 7.4% over last year. See the Proposed Budget here.

Prior to the passage of the sales tax surcharge last year, PBG staff had said they didn’t need the money, and if passed, would return some to the taxpayers in a millage reduction. That all changed of course when the full 10 year revenue stream was captured in a bond and allocated to projects starting immediately, including $11M for a new park.

As the new budget is considered, so far only Vice Mayor Mark Marciano, following in the Bert Premuroso tradition, has suggested they consider a millage decrease. The rest, along with staff, plan to proceed for the third year with the millage rate set in 2016 at 5.55.

This millage will raise $59M in taxes, an increase of $4.1M over last year’s $55M, up 7.4%. (Note that we compare the budget figures, not the calculated “rollback rate” which overstates last year’s budget.) The sales surtax provides another $3M windfall each year.

Is this growth in taxes (and expenditures) justified by the growth of Palm Beach Gardens? How much taxation is enough?

In 1992, the state of Colorado amended their constitution to restrict the growth of taxation. Under the “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” (TABOR), state and local governments could not raise tax rates without voter approval and could not spend revenues collected under existing tax rates without voter approval if revenues grow faster than the rate of inflation and population growth. The results of this Colorado experiment are mixed, and TABOR has its pros and cons. (For background on TABOR, see: Taxpayer Bill of Rights ) Population growth and inflation though, would seem to be a way of assessing the appropriateness of the growth of a city budget, at least as an initial benchmark.

Since 2005, the population of Palm Beach Gardens has grown by about 14% to its current 55,637 (est.) Inflation, measured by the consumer price index, was 26%. Taken together, TABOR would suggest a growth in city spending and taxation of about 45%. (see graph below).

Over the same period, ad-valorem taxes grew 69% and total expenditures (budget less debt payment, capital and transfers) grew 54%. Both are above the TABOR line, but note that in 2013, reductions in tax collection had actually returned to the trendline. It is only since then that we seem to be off to the races.

It should be noted that ad-valorem taxes fund only a part of city expenditures, the rest made up from impact fees, fees for services, other taxes, intergovernmental grants, etc. and have varied from 66% of the total in 2005 to about 73% now. That is why taxes and expenses do not track each other on the chart.

So if you trust TABOR as a measuring stick, is this growth in taxation excessive? You be the judge.

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!

An Analysis of the 2017 PBG Council Election

The March 14 municipal elections in Palm Beach Gardens yielded a pair of winners – Dr. Mark Marciano in Group 1 and Matthew Lane in Group 3. No candidate got a majority in the four way race in Group 5, so Rachelle Litt and Joe Russo will meet in a runoff on 3/28.

In Group 1, the seat currently held by Bert Premuroso, Dr. Marciano performed strongly in most areas of the city, winning by 33 points with 66% of the vote. A long time participant in city government, Mark served on the budget committee for quite a few years and is a regular at city council meetings. His challenger, Michael Paolercio, a newcomer to city politics came closest in Frenchman’s Reserve and Creek, where he lives.

In Group 2, the seat currently held by Eric Jablin, Matthew Lane avoided a runoff in the three way race by capturing 50.2% – a majority by 13 votes. Matthew, who entered the race over a year ago has also been a regular at council meetings and is active in many local civic organizations. Of his two challengers, Quicken Loans founder and past Senate candidate Ron Berman did well in the Gardens last fall, but was a newcomer to city issues and that may have come across. Challenger Katie Gettinger has been active in local issues and a regular at council meetings, but her lightly funded campaign did not do any direct mail or put up signs, possibly limiting her exposure to the voters.

In Group 5, the seat currently held by Mayor Marcie Tinsley, Pharmacist Rachelle Litt and tech enterpreneur Joe Russo won 37% and 34% of the vote respectively, advancing to the runoff election on 3/28. Of the others in this four way race, challenger Kevin Easton, who has run for Council several times before and was a principal in advancing term limits in the Gardens, polled 9% while retired Attorney George Wicker won 20%. Mr. Wicker did especially well in BallenIsles (where he lives), getting 51% of the vote there, 41% of his total vote count. Mr. Wicker also won Frenchman’s Reserve and Creek by 12 votes over Rachelle Litt.

Go to Group 1
Go to Group 3
Go to Group 5

Group 1


Group 1
Strong Marciano Weak Marciano Very Close Weak Paolercio Strong Paolercio
Click the precinct on the map for vote totals.

Precinct Registered Votes Cast Turnout % Marciano Paolercio Marciano
Margin
1186 1428 238 17 167 66 71.7
1188 867 68 8 41 26 61.2
1189 73 15 21 3 12 20.0
1190 3158 346 11 225 111 67.0
1192 1474 187 13 134 51 72.4
1194 2024 620 31 316 296 51.6
1238 1668 348 21 218 124 63.7
1240 2483 404 16 289 106 73.2
1242 2488 531 21 378 121 75.8
1244 1539 254 17 175 70 71.4
1246 2377 305 13 166 132 55.7
1247 221 51 23 9 40 18.4
1248 1488 259 17 169 82 67.3
1250 61 14 23 6 7 46.2
1252 2349 1010 43 544 332 62.1
1254 454 66 15 51 11 82.3
1260 1320 186 14 127 54 70.2
1266 479 5 1 2 3 40.0
1268 294 11 4 7 4 63.6
1272 1912 256 13 171 77 69.0
1274 1590 237 15 159 58 73.3
1280 396 47 12 26 21 55.3
1284 2287 184 8 135 42 76.3
1288 37 3 8 2 1 66.7
1290 2114 258 12 196 58 77.2
1292 67 24 36 22 2 91.7
1296 733 45 6 25 19 56.8
1324 1287 82 6 55 26 67.9
1326 553 79 14 61 17 78.2
1340 11 1 9 1 100.0
1352 2202 222 10 145 68 68.1
1360 882 116 13 71 41 63.4
1372 156 6 4 5 100.0
TOTAL 40492 6478 16 4101 2078 66.4

Group 3


Group 3
Strong Lane Weak Lane Very Close Weak Berman/Gettinger Strong Berman/Gettinger
Click the precinct on the map for vote totals.

Precinct Registered Votes Cast Turnout % Berman Gettinger Lane Lane
Margin
1186 1428 238 17 58 25 149 64.2
1188 867 68 8 18 27 22 32.8
1189 73 15 21 8 3 1 8.3
1190 3158 346 11 100 85 146 44.1
1192 1474 187 13 39 35 107 59.1
1194 2024 620 31 181 50 341 59.6
1238 1668 348 21 95 33 207 61.8
1240 2483 404 16 125 49 221 55.9
1242 2488 531 21 130 75 303 59.6
1244 1539 254 17 62 38 135 57.4
1246 2377 305 13 79 119 102 34.0
1247 221 51 23 40 2 7 14.3
1248 1488 259 17 72 75 103 41.2
1250 61 14 23 3 2 9 64.3
1252 2349 1010 43 417 90 394 43.7
1254 454 66 15 11 2 48 78.7
1260 1320 186 14 49 41 88 49.4
1266 479 5 1 1 4 80.0
1268 294 11 4 4 5 2 18.2
1272 1912 256 13 74 69 105 42.3
1274 1590 237 15 66 73 87 38.5
1280 396 47 12 13 12 20 44.4
1284 2287 184 8 51 36 87 50.0
1288 37 3 8 3 100.0
1290 2114 258 12 65 47 142 55.9
1292 67 24 36 4 6 9 47.4
1296 733 45 6 19 17 9 20.0
1324 1287 82 6 28 22 32 39.0
1326 553 79 14 16 17 43 56.6
1340 11 1 9 1 0.0
1352 2202 222 10 59 46 106 50.2
1360 882 116 13 29 35 50 43.9
1372 156 6 4 2 2 2 33.3
TOTAL 40492 6478 16 1918 1139 3084 50.2

Group 5


Group 5
Strong Litt Weak Litt Very Close Weak Russo Strong Russo
Click the precinct on the map for vote totals.

Precinct Registered Votes Cast Turnout % Easton Litt Russo Wicker Litt/Russo
Margin
1186 1428 238 17 20 127 61 24 67.6
1188 867 68 8 13 22 23 10 48.9
1189 73 15 21 2 13 13.3
1190 3158 346 11 32 119 153 31 43.8
1192 1474 187 13 10 70 73 28 49.0
1194 2024 620 31 53 186 132 198 58.5
1238 1668 348 21 17 161 104 54 60.8
1240 2483 404 16 17 206 132 43 60.9
1242 2488 531 21 25 242 169 77 58.9
1244 1539 254 17 17 104 110 20 48.6
1246 2377 305 13 59 111 97 35 53.4
1247 221 51 23 3 40 8 7.0
1248 1488 259 17 31 104 89 35 53.9
1250 61 14 23 2 6 2 4 75.0
1252 2349 1010 43 11 172 307 515 35.9
1254 454 66 15 4 30 21 10 58.8
1260 1320 186 14 42 69 58 16 54.3
1266 479 5 1 4 1 0.0
1268 294 11 4 1 2 3 5 40.0
1272 1912 256 13 72 76 84 22 47.5
1274 1590 237 15 37 71 110 15 39.2
1280 396 47 12 7 19 14 5 57.6
1284 2287 184 8 11 89 61 18 59.3
1288 37 3 8 2 1 0.0
1290 2114 258 12 21 107 93 32 53.5
1292 67 24 36 5 15 1 25.0
1296 733 45 6 12 21 9 3 70.0
1324 1287 82 6 10 19 44 8 30.2
1326 553 79 14 8 41 27 3 60.3
1340 11 1 9 1 0.0
1352 2202 222 10 25 88 86 21 50.6
1360 882 116 13 18 41 37 20 52.6
1372 156 6 4 3 2 1 66.7
TOTAL 40492 6478 16 578 2315 2175 1263 51.6

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.

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