Thursday, July 27, 2017

Getting down to the nitty-gritty.

What is the early “wish list” from the Lake Worth City Commission for proceeds from the County ¢1 sales tax increase? There is a bullet list below.

Following the City Commission Work Session last Tuesday, Assistant City Manager Juan Ruiz is going back to Staff to fine tune the results from the “Proposed Projects” list. For more about this meeting use this link to read about,
“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood”.
This meeting, in my opinion, set the standard how local governments deal with very important issues such as this. Yes. It was that good.

We learned from Ruiz there will be another Budget Work Session on August 8th. And the oversight for the “¢1 sales tax” proceeds Ruiz stated will be the task of the City’s Finance Advisory Board with guidance from the Palm Beach County League of Cities.

Ruiz summed it up this way, this money is to:

  • Fund infrastructure projects.
  • Leverage infrastructure projects.
  • Complete infrastructure projects.
Note the word, “Infrastructure”.

Will this money fund “Tree Beautification”? Tree-lined roads? No. It will not. Will the County have veto power over a decision? That is still unknown.

The bad news from City Manager Michael Bornstein was the FEC Railway’s maintenance funding for the City’s railroad crossings ($500,000?). The FEC is constructing the quiet zones but it’s up to the City to maintain them. Remember, railroad crossings are a right-of-way courtesy of the railroad and regulated by the Federal government. As they say,
“The railroad [Henry Flagler] was here first.”
City Attorney Glen Torcivia said a project is what, “serves the public purpose” and “needs to comply with the ballot language.” A crucial point. Also, the definition of Infrastructure is not a broad one; it’s very precise.

About ¾ way through the meeting Ruiz said “it’s been a healthy dialogue” and tried to gauge the consensus (top priorities) of the City Commission — by rank, highest to lowest — here it is:
  • #1: Roads (fix, repair, and maintain roads not on the Neighborhood Road Bond passed last year).
  • #2: Park of Commerce and Boutwell Rd.
  • #3: Construct a parking garage in the Downtown.
  • #4: Address/fix the Casino business plan at the Beach.
Mayor Pam Triolo then tasked the City Commission to each pick their top three. However, some added caveats and ended up with a list of more “top picks”.

Here we go. . .

Mayor Pam Triolo:

  • #1: Roads (along with Park of Commerce [POC])
  • #2: Parking garage
  • #3: Beach business model
Triolo also said, “Traffic calming is a big issue in all the [City] neighborhoods.” And Triolo set the theme for the evening, “Have everyone feel the love.”

Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell:

  • #1: Roads
  • #2: POC and Boutwell Rd.
  • #3: Parking garage.
Maxwell also suggested a parking garage Downtown in tandem with a parking garage at the Beach run by a “Parking Authority”. The City could capture the resulting revenue sans running the day-to-day operations. Maxwell’s big push was for land acquisition and then “mortgage” that land to developers like the Town of Lantana has done for many years, a “huge opportunity”.

License plate readers are a “big priority” and Maxwell told everyone, “CDBG money may not be around for long.”

Vice Mayor Pro Tem, District 3 Commissioner Andy Amoroso:

  • #1: Roads
  • #2: Parking garage
  • #3: Beach business model
Removing the pier at Spillway Park, now condemned, is “a no-brainer”. Amoroso also said, “Think Maxwell’s idea of land acquisition is a great idea.” And Amoroso also pointed out, “We know a parking garage will provide revenue . . . get multiple things done and share the love.”

District 2 City Commissioner Omari Hardy:

  • #1: Roads
  • #2: POC
  • #3: Parking garage.
Hardy diplomatically called the Beach a “recurring expense problem” and think it was Hardy who first said the pier removal at Spillway Park was “a no-brainer”. Hardy’s position was firm on, “Invest now to save money later.”

Hardy also reminded everyone there are streets in this City still unpaved (2½ miles mostly in Districts 1 and 2). Streets that were platted 104 years ago. [In my opinion? A historic disgrace that needs to be remedied.]

District 4 Commissioner Herman C. Robinson:

  • #1: Beach business model.
  • #2: Parking garage
  • #3: Roads
Robinson said, “Completing the Casino [business plan] is absolutely at the top of my list” and “has to be done.” Robinson’s focus was on ROI [return on investment] and the City can’t wait for “money from above”. Robinson was keen to Hardy’s idea of “pocket parks” to replace unpaved roads. [A consensus? No more unpaved streets in our City here in Palm Beach County?]

The big idea of the night was from Vice Mayor Maxwell and Commissioner Hardy seemed to agree:

Borrow money ($10M+) up front and pay off with the County money over the next 10 years. This would provide a big impact, for example, on fixing more of our roads in the City of Lake Worth. Is this even possible? Maybe we’ll find out at the next Budget Work Session on August 8th.

“Stay tuned”, as they say, and try not to get frightened or upset. All the City Commission is doing right now is exploring ideas. Why?

Because that’s their job as elected officials.