Friday, December 27, 2013

Town of Palm Beach Council Member David Rosow will not seek another term...

David A Rosow

Dear Fellow Residents,

When I ran for election for the Town Council in 2008 I made several promises:  
            To work diligently on the finances of the Town
            To make intelligent decisions with respect to Planning & Zoning issues
            To put sand on our beaches

Let’s examine the record of those six years.

Property taxes for the Fiscal Year of 2008 (which was established before I joined the Council) were $40.7 million and the budget was $64.3 million.  For 2013 Property taxes will total $38.6 million and the budget is $65.4 million.  And for the past five years the Town’s mill rate has not been raised.
In 2008 I asked the Council to do a complete review of our benefits package and that process was done in a slow and deliberate pace over four years. During the period between 2009 and 2020, as a result of the Council’s pension reform, residents’ taxes for Pension benefits will be reduced from a projected $116 million to $52 million, a savings of $64 million.  Pension benefits were estimated to be $12.5 million for this fiscal year.  Instead they are $6.5 million.  While other cities in our nation are struggling with the costs of their pension obligations, our Town was proactive and fair.

During my first campaign I stated that  the Town’s Reserve Funds were over funded and now we are carefully using excess reserves to fund beach projects, and the burial of overhead power lines, which although paid for by the affected individual residents, are being financed over 10 years, at an advantageous rate to the residents.  We also use the excess for various other capital programs, with internal repayments with interest.  This is less expensive than borrowing money from a bank or raising taxes.

In 2008 the Town paid for capital expenditures, irrespective of their life expectancy, by taxation each year, commonly referred to as PayGo.  Property taxes could therefore fluctuate widely.  I argued for using long-term debt so that current residents wouldn’t be financing improvements that will outlast their time in Palm
Beach.  We now use long-term debt to spread out the cost of those long life projects, and the savings estimated by our Finance Department by issuing bonds three years ago rather than taxing residents is $9 million.  The Town has maintained its AAA rating and again issued additional bonds last month, which will lead to more savings.  As a result, our Capital projects program has been accelerated and the first phase came in on time and under budget.

During this six-year period (FY2008-FY2014) the Council has not reduced any services to the residents.   The Town is now operating with staffing at 1997 levels, all managed without any layoffs.

The Council members reinstated the Shore Protection Board and I suggested to fund its program with the money the Town received from DOT for the land to rebuild the North Bridge not through additional taxes.  However I agreed to reestablish the Shore Board on the basis that Woods Hole Group, the most notable experts on sand and sand movement, do a peer review of any recommendations from the Shore Board, and take into consideration information other experts provided.

In the Planning & Zoning area, I have consistently tried to reach compromises between neighbors and make decisions for Variance and Special Exceptions using common sense and the interests of the community.  I voted for the PUD5 plan, because, after 11 months of study by a prestigious committee of residents, the Committee overwhelmingly recommended it, with only one dissenting vote, and the opponents did not offer anything other than the status quo.  To preserve Royal Poinciana Way some compromises are necessary otherwise current zoning will lead to the eventual demolition of all the buildings on Royal Poinciana Way.   The street has changed considerably over the years and let us not forget that Worth Avenue was once a residential street and no one regrets that change.

During these years I listened to all residents, worked to insure their safety and watched their pocketbooks.
The past six years have been wonderful and Jeanne and I have enjoyed meeting and knowing so many residents whose paths we would never have crossed. In these six years, I believe I met the goals I outlined when I ran and achieved the objectives I presented to the Council when I was elected President.  Six years takes a toll on family and friends and therefore, after consulting with my family, we have decided that I will not seek a fourth term.  

I will miss the collaboration I enjoyed with our outstanding Town Manager Peter Elwell and his excellent Department Directors along with all the wonderful employees I have had the privilege to work with.  I also want to thank the Mayor and my fellow Council Members for the honor of working with them on behalf of all the residents of our wonderful town.