Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Live at 12 13 City Commission Work Session

Park of Commerce

Commissioner McVoy not here.  Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council presentation on the Park of Commerce economic development potential.  There is a PowerPoint.  Showing aerial, good sized 390 acres.  He says the area can be a focus of redevelopment for the city.  Centrally located in the County and region.  He thnks there are some regional interests here too.  Can help diversify the regional economy.  Access to existing transportation is in place and can be an incentive for redevelopment and the establishment of light industry, warehousing and manufacturing.  Fifteen year planning history for this park,  Many interested in the Park of Commerce's potential.  Reviewing TCRPC plan from ten years ago - largest assemblage of land in Palm Beach County.  Quote from slide "Lake Worth: Best City to do business in South Florida" - McVoy arrived.

Park needs a center, to be self-sufficient, walkable streets, entrance features and infrastructure.  Infrastructure needs assessment.  Three phases spread over 15 years 1-3 years, 4-7 years and 8-15 years.  Transportation systems, stormwater, water, sewer, power and telecommunications improvements. 650,000 additional square feet of industrial and office possible,.  The infrastructure report is very technical.  Good access to major roads. Tri-rail station, intricate network of roads throughout the park.  Rights of way are there and becomes the structure to route the infrastructure.  Boutwell Road became the priority for transportation improvements for Phase 1.  Turning movements need improvement at intersections, underground utilities, telecommunications duct bank, gateway identification, streetlights, pedestrian and bicycle friendly, Palm Tran and street trees.  Review existing conditions.  Looking at typical future street cross section.  Looked at entry feature locations.

Stormwater was a big issue to allow future redevelopment of the park.  Had to look at SFWMD and Lake Worth Drainage district requirements. Water treatment was examined.  Not feasible to rely on a regional system, need to go to the parcel to parcel approach where each property owner provides for their own system.  Green stormwater management systems were employed.  Treatment and storage were addressed.

Water, sewer, electric and telecommunications next.  Looked at future use of land and generation rates according to demand and future tenants.  Looked at potable water and fire flows - phased improvements.  Looked at eight new sanitary sewer pump stations phased over time.  Electrical - underground a priority, along with the transportation improvements.  Telecommunications and high-speed Internet - what is there and what you can do with what is existing.  FPL could bring in their fibernet in which is 50 mps.  Fiber optics can go up to 10 gbps.  Review of alternatives.  Comcast only covers a quarter of the park.  Must have return on investment.  City may have to put a "dark grid" in and then access by local ports.  $250,000 initial investment for would make park more attractive.  Cost - first phase under $6 million.  Second phase - $2 million.  Phase 3 $3.3 million.  Total $11.05 million infrastructure investment.

Funding options:  Grants, local state and federal.  Grants are moving towards a systematic approach - getting at all the things that are necessary not just one item.  Economic Development Administration funding would require a clear and concise vision from the city.  One of them is the Public Words and Economic Assistance programs.  Land owners need to be tapped to help articulate that vision.  Donna Brosemer is giving some history of how we got where we are.  She had a lot of interaction with individual property owners to encourage them to be annexed - most of park was in unincorporated PBC.  Supported by every Commission she has worked for, but not by every staff.  Much turnover and credibility suffered.  70 property owners.  She arrived at an industrial taxing district - a dependent district can be created by the city.  Owners wanted some assurance that is was not just another tax.  Lake Worth Park of Commerce Industrial Development Authority - name chosen.  Board of Directors can be City Commission, property owners or a hybrid of the two.  They recommended that the property owners would have the majority - most workable option.  Retrofitting structure over an established conglomeration.  Largest industrial area along the east coast of south Florida - transportation right there.  Can be a regional economic engine. This would be created as a tax increment financing district and would only be within Lake Worth's boundaries.  Would capture future increases in property values.  Must re-establish and maintain trust with property owners overtime.

McVoy sees the potential, know what we need, we have innovative ideas and grants available, especially if we have an environmental edge to it - but the property owners are skeptical.  Where is the money gong to come from - implementation?  Any movement?  Put on shelf and there has been no movement - all here as a favor tonight, none are currently under contract.  NOTHING HAS HAPPENED.  There was an application made to EDA but it was rejected.  Chicken or egg scenario.  Everything has to be in place institutionally first, if you don't have it, you "can ask for the moon and not get it."  McVoy asks if one of the things a granting agency looks at if we have anyone on staff to put this together?  The internal capacity of the city is critical.  Must partner with other entities.

Maxwell asked for everyone to come tonight to establish what were the first steps that we can take as a city.  Where are we going to get the money?  He'd like to give a presentation on how to come up with the initial money.  15 year timeline - to date - how much we have spent on studies to date.  Brosemer went to the legislature and everyone asked for a plan.  The EDA grant was a way to get a plan, but we were turned down for it.  Cost of CDM study - $250,000.  Physical improvements need to be made or things and occupants will be less quality.  Mulvehill pushes for an economic development staff person and that is part of this fiscal year's budget.  There is some kind of association with the county regarding telecommunications.  She thinks that position is critical and so is the marketing manager position.  She says that the models have changed - sustainability efforts.  She is campaigning already.

Maxwell asks if there is any cost efficiency if we attack all three phases - if we had the money?  The answer is yes.  How much of a timeline would there be if we could just write a check for all of it - land acquisition will take time for right of way acquisition.  Have to be happening with construction and design.  Need to do better with the property owners - hard to go back to them at one time.Can't piecemeal this anymore - what do we have to do to make it a reality and not a fantasy.  Can TIF be sunsetted?  Yes, after a number of years.  Even if we were to right that check, we would have to get our internal structure together but must also promote this land.  He will be hosting a meeting later this week - with the BDB, economic development organizations, etc, - what are the options to make this plan a reality.  He will report back to the Commission.  Marketing efforts need actions, not words.  Need to be taken seriously this time.

Amoroso thanks everyone for taking their own time to come.  Are you able to work with staff?  Did you get a response from our past city manager?  Didn't want it like the other city manager's we had.  She didn't want to advance it.  She had other priorities.  Where are we now with the 70 owners?  15 or 20 engage at any one time.  It has been a while.  Need vision to move it forward - 12 to 15 years is enough, wants to look for other funding.

McVoy what is the step that the property owners would need to see the city take - do more annexations, get the structure in place, details can be worked on that don't entail spending a lot of money.  Need to commit to spend some money on this.

Recruitment of City Manager

Kurt Bressner - range rider for International City Manager's Association - he is one of eight range riders - 73 nationwide.  His territory is southeast Florida.  He is here to present options regarding the replacement of the city manager.  There was additional information sent this morning.  Interim from city staff - advantages for continuity, might be most cost effective.  Dual function manager/department head might be a problem and both jobs could suffer.  May not have the broad based experience that is needed.  Can be done for a short period of time.  Go forward and hire a manager while recruiting for a permanent one is another option - retired military could be a possible with staffing and command experience.  He cited Bill Horn in Clearwater.  Operational changes can be made during the interim period.  Outside the organization - no vested interest.. More cost with this option.  There is the interim period - holiday period, things are flat until after the first of the year.  Can utilize the services of the range riders and he has alerted them to the possibility. Search firm has access to candidates that we don't have access to locally.   They have some in-house knowledge and connections that can help - range riders too - a savvy bunch.  Cost of search firm would be in addition to severance payments - he was fired on a 3-2 vote in Illinois.  He says that it is very important to come together and to move forward now.  Very difficult decision to make and a 3-2 vote is tough on a decision like this.  They need to put it behind you now.  Care has to be taken now related to the Commission's interaction with staff - cannot direct staff to do things - particularly during this interim time - has to be by the book.  They need one direction and it has to come from the City Manager - not five commissioners.

Charter contains a good job description for a city manager.  He can help write one or create one that matches the Charter. He thinks that the position would be attractive on a national basis - can consider an assistant or deputy manager as well.  Need someone with seasoned decision-making ability - Commission should act soon on this decision for community stability.  Just travel cost and copy costs - their service is free.  

McVoy thanks him for stepping up and helping us out.  Concerned about losing professional staff.  Mulvehill's glasses are all the way down her nose during this presentation.  Carr asks if the Commission wants an item put on the next agenda.  Maxwell says this could be a stand alone topic for discussion - might need to be a separate meeting.  McVoy says he would like to be there - someone thought that he was outside protesting at the beginning.  Mulvehill is talking about the 3-2 vote and that we have lost one person already - she inferred that the others might have not been surprised by the decision.  What timeframe is it going to take in filling this position.  He says at least 4 months for a nationwide recruitment.  Can the interim do the dual function for a four month period or does it make sense to bring someone new in - can't just be a placeholder.  Salary for the interim, could be for the current pay and that is negotiable.

They might meet this Saturday to make decisions on this topic.He would like to review the file on the previous search firm.  Saturday would be a special meeting.  Sounds like it is at 10 a.m. - Mulvehill wants the Mayor to elaborate what the new direction that we are taking with a new city manager at the meeting on Saturday.

Budget Reduction Plan

Carr introduces the topic.  Fry is doing the presentation.  He announced that he was leaving today and is taking a job at the City of Port St. Lucie and will be here another month.  It would be good to get these changes done before he leaves.  Mayor says some of the items were discussed in one on one meetings with the former City Manager - these are just suggestions from city manager Stanton.  Mulvehill says that these suggestions were made since they wanted to repeal the fire assessment.  Those options were not necessarily at the current Mayor's direction.  Carr says they result from discussions with department heads - so it is more of a collaborative staff proposal.  "The City organization is waiting for the decision in order to know if there is enough money, etc."  Maxwell, when he looked at this, saw the same 200 pages but it is devoid of the fluff from the previous back-up material.  There were items that the Mayor wanted that didn't appear in the report.  Amoroso had some suggestions that he didn't see included.  Mulvehill says that we are setting ourselves up for moving backward - look at this with a lot of caution.  The Mayor says they made need to take time to meet with the interim to make sure their suggestions are taken into account.  The Mayor wants to eliminate the fire assessment as a goal, that is not Mulvehill's goal.  She thinks this is extreme and dangerous.  Staff is waiting for an answer.  Amoroso says staff is held up, but he has some issues with things - he is seeing someone being demoted but is getting  $9,000 raise and a secretary that seems high.

I promised myself that I would be leaving at 8:30 p.m. - check out the stream