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.

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.

Changes to Alton and New Development for the City

Note – The December City Council Meeting will be held on Thursday December 1 at 7pm

There were quite a few items on the November 16, 2016 City Council Meeting – All Ordinances and Resolutions passed 5:0 with the exception of  Playground Equipment for Ironwood Park (pulled from Consent and discussed) – 4:1 ( Council Member Premuroso opposed) and  Resolution 77, 2016 – Appointment to Police Officers Pension Board (Council Member Woods was not present for the vote) – 4:0

The discussion on equipment for Ironwood Park Playground began when Council Member Premuroso pulled the item from Consent and suggested that the neighborhood expected a passive park, and by putting in playground equipment (including a kiddy zipline), the nature of the park had changed. Mayor Tinsley suggested that perhaps the vote be delayed for a month with signage to note what was planned for the site to solicit neighborhood input. But staff seemed to be adamant that the immediate neighbors that were reached were happy with the plans and that it should go forward without further input. Most on the Council supported the active park and the purchase award was approved.

November 16, 2016

Changes were made to Alton to add a 256-bed Memory Care Assisted Living Facility (Clarity Pointe) as well as a public park, and convert uses in other areas of the property. There was little discussion by Council and no public comment. Immediately upon second reading and passage of the Balsamo property annexation, the property was rezoned (on 1st reading) and will become, upon approval in January, a 97 single-family unit development named Ancient Tree – between Avenir and Sandhill Crane Golf Course. The council welcomed the owners to the City.

Additional development approved included:

  • a 2-story bank with professional offices and drive-through ATM located on the south side PGA Blvd. near Military trail and next to the SunTrust Bank.
  • the changes to Prosperity Oaks/Brookdale Palm Beach Gardens to add a memory care facility

hand

Art in Public Places was approved for PGA National Commerce Park featuring the work of Peter Garaj. The stainless steel structure is entitled “Hands of Time”

The final discussion of the evening revolved around a long-standing issue between Frenchman’s Creek, the town of Juno Beach, the county’s Property Appraiser and the City with respect to Frenchman’s Creek Beach Club Property Tax (see Palm Beach Post for an overview of the issue from May 2015) .  After debate on whether or not there should be further meetings with the new Property Appraiser, Dorothy Jacks – the council voted to make no changes to the City’s current position, and Mayor Tinsley will inform Frenchman’s Creek.

Sober Homes Presentation Fills the Council Chambers

NOTE: There will be a second November City Council Meeting on Wednesday, November 16th.

The Council Chambers were packed at the Nov 3rd City Council meeting with citizens from primarily the Plat 1 area of Palm Beach Gardens impacted by Sober Homes in their community. City Attorney Max Lohman presented a review of the current definitions, statutes/laws and limitations on local community actions with respect to Sober Homes. His presentation can be viewed here (starting at minute 14:30); you can read a copy of the Powerpoint presentation here (you will need software that can open a Powerpoint file). Sarah Peters of the Palm Beach Post covers the Sober Home discussion.  Those making public comment expressed their frustrations as well as dismay at how such rentals were not considered commercial endeavors in residential areas.

November 3, 2016

The Council began with a presentation honoring former Mayor/Council Member David Levy for his twelve years of service to the City. He was presented with a plaque as well as a crystal gavel and made touching remarks as well.

City Manager Ferris requested that the presentation portion of the Council discussion on the Central Blvd/I-95 interchange be brought to the front of the meeting while the chambers were full. In short, the interchange hs been 18 years in the making. Development orders required a right of way for all impacted subdivisions and new residents had to be informed about the potential interchange. Alton, FPL, Paloma and Cimmaron Cove were all considered in the studies. Staff concluded that they recommended approval as is. During Public Comment which preceded the presentation Elissa Cohen, President of the Paloma HOA, Sandra Abraham also of Paloma and Dave Rebholz of Old Palm all expressed support for a new traffic study, or to put the project on hold. Don Mathis suggested that it’s the PGA/I-95 PGA interchange needed to be factored more into the plans. The Council, when discussing the topic towards the end of the agenda, praised Andrea Troutman, consultant from Pinder Troutman Consulting, the traffic engineer for Palm Beach Gardens, on her clear explanations of the studies and status of the I95/Central Blvd interchange. The Council had several questions for staff which were addressed. In related discussion, FDOT will be having “An Alternatives Public Workshop will be held on Thursday, December 8, 2016, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Marriott Palm Beach Gardens, 4000 RCA Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410.” about the Northlake/I-95 interchange. For more details see http://www.95northlake.com/public-notices.php

All Ordinances and resolutions passed 5:0. Other comments made by the public included Jervonte Edmonds of Suits for Seniors, thanking Council Member Marino, plus a member of the City’s Police department for speaking at his Career Day; Kevin Dalton, who owns 3 business in Palm Beach Gardens, suggesting that Central Blvd be renamed for either Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus. (Council replied that Central is a County road). Mr. Dalton also said that he has employed people from 1/2 way homes (eg Sober Homes) and they do have to hand in their cell phone when having their group meetings so perhaps those meetings could be considered ‘treatment’ – which is forbidden in Sober Homes.

Council, during items of Resident Interest and Board/Committee reports commended staff on their outstanding preparation for Hurricane Matthew.

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


5yrprojection2016


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.

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.

Carl Woods Takes His Seat on the City Council

The ‘new’ Council was finally complete, 5 months after the Municipal Elections. Council Member Woods, while sworn in a couple of weeks ago, formally took the Oath of Office at the beginning of the meeting and made a short, heartfelt and humorous statement.

EMS Division Chief James Ippolito described, and others spoke about the City, first in Palm Beach County, receiving the American Heart Association 2016 Mission Lifeline EMS Gold Award. Kudos to Fire/Rescue.

All Public Hearings/Resolutions and the Consent Agenda passed 5:0, with discussion on two Consent Items:

  • Resolution 60, 2016, approving the crossing agreement with the City, FEC and All Aboard Florida (AAF), was described by the City Attorney. Changes to the existing agreement primarily was caused by the addition of AAF, and the construction/maintenance entailed by the addition of a 2nd track.
  • Resident Vito DeFrancesco expressed concern with wording in the Settlement Agreement Alexander V. The City of Palm Beach Gardens, Et. Al.,  which sounded like the agreement was not being publicly recorded and thus avoiding Freedom of Information requests. City Attorney Lohman replied that the entire text of the settlement was in the City’s records (and in the agenda details) and that the wording of the phrase which concerned Mr. DeFrancesco, was commonly used to mean that private suits are not recorded with the County Clerk.**
August 4, 2016

Comments from the Public resulted in the most discussion:

  • Sid Dinerstein, of the Palm Beach County Term Limits Committee, and initiator of the lawsuit challenging David Levy’s eligibility for office, challenged the new Council to resolve and take two votes that night:
    1) Get the people’s money back from the City Attorney for the Term Limits lawsuit
    2) Start paying for the Inspector General
    City Manager Ferris replied, during his report, that the City Attorney acted at the behest of the City. He did not address the IG Lawsuit. Nor did the Council pursue either subject later in the meeting.
  • Cynthia Medley, raised an issue regarding construction of the new City Park. Her property is adjacent to the park and construction has made lights fall in her kitchen, construction seems to be happening on the weekend as well.
  • Shady Lakes was the topic for Kathy Beamer and Jeff Hiscock. Ms. Beamer stated that the construction contract for the 3 parts of the project was issued in November, 2015 – several months before the plans were approved, and that her FOIA requests went unanswered on the contract. She also pointed out that each of the 3 portions of the project came in under $2 million, which is the point at which a project must go out for public bid. Was that to avoid public scrutiny? Beamer also asked once again that the 117th project be completed before starting Shady Lakes, and re-assess. Mr. Hiscock also added, ‘why the rush?’ – delay the Shady Lakes construction until next year and re-visit the vote when the new council is seated. (Note – 3 seats are up for election in the March 2017 Municipal Election). The subject resulted in immediate responses from Mayor Tinsley, Mr. Ferris and Mr. Lohman – each pointing out different aspects of the project including:
    • Fire/Rescue need for second entry
    • Shady Lakes tied into agreement for 117th with School Board
    • Traffic reassessment still resulted in need for the Shady Lakes component
    • Access to the City Park/Tennis Center via Shady Lakes Drive is both shorter and avoids the schools
    • The project was voted on over a year ago, each part having separate Council votes with estimates under $2 million.

At this point, Comments from the Public resumed. Other Comments made before and after the Shady Lakes ‘interruption’ include:

  • Resident Vito DeFrancesco pointed out that Mr. Woods should have been seated in March, and was denied so due to a misinterpretation by staff of the Charter. He also said that all votes taken since March should be reworked. (Note – since the Council has voted unanimously 4:0 or 5:0 on all items since that time – no different outcome would have resulted – although clearly had Council Member Woods had a strong argument differing with those votes, he could have swayed the remainder of the Council, changing the results.)
  • Barbara McQuinn (candidate for School Board District 1) and Tony Bennett (Candidate for County Commission District 1) both introduced themselves.
  • Tom Murphy, President of the PBG Police Foundation, reminded the public that the deadline for the 9/11 essay contest is coming up. See details here.
  • Michael Marsh, of Vero Beach – who has spoken several times on his friend Corey Jones as well as use of body cameras, thanked the City for how fast it implemented the cameras and changed Policy and Procedures.
  • Troy McDonald, on the Council of Stuart, came to congratulate Mr. Woods and to offer advice on attaining public office.
  • Barbara Grossman read parts of a letter she had sent to the Council detailing safety issues with All Aboard Florida.

During Items for Council Action/Discussion – Mayor Tinsley asked that there be a Proclamation drafted to honor and thank former Mayor and Councilman David Levy at the next Council meeting in September. All were in agreement.

**PBGWatch has a different issue with the Settlement between Mr. Alexander, Avenir and the City. Mr. Alexander is NOT a resident of Palm Beach Gardens. He lives in IBIS. So should a Charter Review Committee be assembled, our position is that it should consist of Residents of the City. We will raise the issue when the subject arises before the Council in the future.

 

Subdued Council Passes All Items 4:0 and Showers City Manager Ferris with Praise

Much of the discussion during the July Council Meeting centered on subjects not originally on the agenda. All Ordinances and Resolutions passed 4:0 with the result that:

  • Property tax revenue will increase by 6% if millage is not lowered during the September Budget hearings. Maximum millage is set during July meetings throughout the state. The only usual proponent of lowering millage on the Council, Council Member Premuroso, stated that he saw no way to lower millage in the fall given upcoming Police and Fire/Rescue contracts, and city growth. He also said that the goal should be to continue to maintain flat millage. (Note – this means that as property valuations increase, your property taxes will go up accordingly – at differing rates depending on whether or not you own a homesteaded property). Save the date – September 8, 2016 at 7pm for the first 2016/2017 Budget Hearing.
  • PGA Station PUD amendments were approved. See a summary in Sarah Peters’ article here.
  • Resolution 52, 2016 – added to the Agenda at the meeting, allows for the City to call a Special Election concurrent with the November 8, 2016 General Election. This is a place holder should Circuit Court Judge Colin find for the City in the Levy/Woods Litigation conclusion within the next couple of weeks. The August City Council meeting would be too late to open candidate qualification. Should the judge seat Carl Woods, then the Council would withdraw Resolution 52 in August.  More detail below.
July 8, 2016

Mayor Tinsley began the meeting with a moment of silence for the victims of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub attack. She then brought up former Mayor/Council Member Levy’s resignation and read his resignation letter. She brought forward the City Attorney report to the beginning of the Agenda, so that Mr. Lohman could describe briefly the litigation time-table, enforcement of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on the Charter’s Term Limits retro-activity and Levy’s ineligibility to have run for office. Resolution 52, 2016 was added to the agenda. More detail here .  (NOTE:  PBGWatch was present at the most recent hearing – it is Max Lohman, on behalf of the City, that is arguing for a Special Election – otherwise Judge Colin would not be considering it.  We recommend that the Council read the transcript obtained by their attorney, and here is our summary of that hearing).

Presentations included Recognition of the City’s Spirit Team, and the  Sponsors of the Gardens Cup, which raises funds that are used to put on morale raising events for City Staff.

Comments From the Public included:

  • Tom Cairnes, of the PGA Corridor Association thanked David Levy for his contributions to the City, especially in all things environmental. He also hoped that the citizens wouldn’t end up regretting their actions comparing the term limits vote in 2014 to Brexit.
  • Ross Wilcox and William Papageorge, both residents living on Gardens Glen Circle, raised a Code Enforcement issue with a vehicle with trailer parking on the city street at all times. Mayor Tinsley and City Manager Ferris were reviewing the problem.
  • Carol Courtney of 40th Terrace N. cited concerns with how the City implemented the Sunset Dr/40th Terrace improvements without respect for environmental impacts.
  • Kevin Easton and Marilyn Parmet both asked that Resolution 52, 2016 not be voted on, that there not be a Special Election (ranging in costs up to $80K) and that Carl Woods be declared the winner of the March election.

Mr. Ferris began his City Manager Report by implying that the two residents didn’t understand that Resolution 52 was just a placeholder and that the Special Election would only cost $15K. (editor’s note – he was not understanding that they were saying the Council could end the need for such an election by seating Mr. Woods!)

Also included in the Mr. Ferris’ upbeat report was:

  • Well earned recognition for Km! Ra, Purchasing and Contracts Director, for a prestigious Excellence in Achievement Award for the 3rd year in a row. As Mr. Ra IS the Purchasing Department – he achieved a round of applause!
  • Congratulations to the City’s Police Explorers who one 1st place in the 2016 Law Enforcement Challenge for the 3rd year in a row.
  • Thanks to the Police Foundation for donating 40 infrared thermometers which can be used to detect temperature in parked vehicles.
  • Recognition by the City by interim Fire Chief Keith Breyer and the City to Juan Nunez, lifeguard at the Recreation Center for saving a toddler unresponsive in the swimming pool – see Lifeguard Receives Hero Award for more details.
  • The Chief also Recognized Km! Ra once again – this time for getting a $43K FEMA grant for 120 Personal Safety/Rescue Bailout System for the Fire Department.

During Items for Council Discussion, the Council did their annual City Manager Evaluation. It also happened to be Mr. Ferris’ birthday. He couldn’t have asked for a better present than the effusive praise, minimal critique if any, and the standing ovation given him by the Council and his staff….

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