Monday, November 21, 2011

"Live" from the chambers...

It's 5:45 and the room might be half full.  The various sound systems seem to be working.  Pam Lopez tested it a few minutes ago.  Madame Jennings just walked through the door.
The room is about full now - at 5:55 p.m.  After reading a disclosure of what transpired on Friday, Mayor Triolo asked for a motion to change the meeting back to a workshop.  Commissioner McVoy makes the motion to a work session, but the City Attorney asks for a motion to waive the rules.  Commissioner Maxwell voted no on the motion.  He says that it was the City Manager was the one that picked the time frame for the meeting.  He asked for the executive personnel contracts before he left for Orlando.  He is reading the e-mail that he e-mailed to City Clerk Pam Lopez when he inquired whether or not this was a work session or a special meeting.  The City Clerk was not in the office on Friday.  (I will get the originals of all these that I don't have on this computer)  He affirms that he did not ask that the meeting be changed to a special meeting.  He says that after going over the 200 pages of back-up and all of the items that he thought we going to be and were not, he was dumbfounded that only the two subjects that appear on the agenda of the dozen that were discussed.  He affirms that it is other people that have the authority to change the meeting.  The City Manager says that she thought it was a good idea to change it to a special meeting.  The Mayor thought that the agenda would be much more broader than what was included.  She also says that they got 200 more pages of back-up for this meeting that was delivered today at 3 p.m.  He re-affirms that he did not ask to change the status of this meeting.  He refers to other e-mails sent out by former elected officials and a sitting Commissioner.  Commissioner Amoroso says that he was called at 4:30 p.m. Friday afternoon and told to come pick up his packet.  It was a folder full of paper - not happy with the presentation.  The City Manager says that the only person who knew it was going to be a special meeting was the Mayor.

Commissioner Maxwell is reading an e-mail from Annabeth Karson.  Motion passed.  Mulvehill is not present.

Motion by McVoy, seconded by Amoroso to return the meeting to a work session.  Commissioner McVoy acknowledges sending out an e-mail "based upon what he was hearing from residents."  He is pleased that the meeting is what it is now.  He apologizes if there were "misinformations" in the e-mails - he got some back-up material at 5:57 p.m. today.

Mayor Triolo says we need to move forward on the beach project and make sure that it is financially viable. She thinks that it should operate commensurate with hours common on the island of Palm Beach.  She is excited about the opportunities that the ballroom will offer.  Her main priority is that the business succeed and the other requirements the city is talking about putting on them  should be secondary - she is one of five people that are to make decisions.  She thinks that exclusivity would be hard to enforce.  She emphasizes that this is only her opinion.

Maxwell asks the City Manager about the numbers for the beach and casino project so that we could figure out what we needed to do to make the project work.  He says that he is looking at leases now and didn't want to look at leases until he had all the numbers.

McVoy is talking about the diference between a two story restaurant and two one story restaurants, with one on each floor.  He thinks that a projection could be put together that would show the financial situation and the differences between the two scenarios.  He thinks we need those numbers.

Amoroso thought that we were going to look at everything related to the beach and all that he got was some stuff related to leases - three tenants total.  He likes Johnny Longboats, but doesn't know what is included in their build-out.  He still doesn't have the information that he needs to make educated decisions.  He is concerned about the hours of operation and how important that is and that we don't have the information yet.

Maxwell says that we don't know if this is a $6 million project or not.  He thinks that the whole thing is going to, including the beach renovation, and it will be more than $11 million.  he says that the whole plan was that the city residents would not be subsidizing the businesses at the beach.  He will not be forced to make a decision on the leases, he wants the numbers first - how much will the projects cost when all is said and done.

The City Manager says that we will have information about money on grants and other sources by January or so.  She thinks that the matter of exclusivity is a big issue.

McVoy says that he would paint it quite as negative as Maxwell, he thinks the $5 million from the county is great.  He is concerned about the overall cost.  "We don't want to tell businesses what to do, but it is a public park."  They have to come to closure on the closing hours.  He thinks a bar atmosphere is not what the city should be going for at the beach.  The Mayor asks why these questions weren't asked and answered prior to getting businesses in line for leases,  McVoy is talking about a movement.  The Mayor asks what information was given to the realtors etc.  City Manager says that we were waiting to see what kind of response we were going to get.  She says that the previous Commission never came with a clear decision on the issue.  Amoroso likes 6 a.m. to midnight.  He says you need to take into consideration 'last call" and how long it will take people to clear out and then you have staff.  It takes a while to close a restaurant.  He says the city shouldn't be involved in exclusivity agreements or what products businesses should carry.  He is asking about our water contract and how it relates to the CAM charges.
Maxwell goes back to the business plan for the beach.  He says that there were assumptions in there about hours of operation and we are now getting away from those assumptions in the plan.  "Are we going to do this the correct way or not?"  He says that $7 a foot will not be doing it and Snitkin says he is comfortable with it since it is a new building.  McVoy thinks there should be more of a "feeling" of a park and that is what he has heard from the "community."   And at the same time they have to deal with the financial push-back.  Can we make it work and make the bank happy without losing what the community has indicated it wants.  He likes food over alcohol.  He needs the numbers to know.

Amoroso asked if they aver saw what the CAM covered - what he has seen to date hasn't included that information.  Maxwell says he is willing to wait to make a decision until all the information is there before they make any decision on the leases.

Amoroso is asking about the dollar per day charge whether it is $700 or $800 a day or nothing, but then Kathleen Margoles says that they directed Morganti to go ahead after the last meeting.  If they wanted a two story restaurant, now Johnny Longboats would have to absorb the cost of making it a two floor restaurant.  Does midnight work for them?  During the week yes, but on the weekends they want it open until 1 a.m.  Snitkin says that JL is more of a restaurant than a bar - 75% of their gross sales is food.  He thinks the falsoit is perfect for them.  They have showed it to other up-scale places and those people have said that it is not up-scale enough for them.  He thinks that stalling the decision to January or February will push it out too far for JL and other tenants are counting on them to be there to draw people.  He mentions the "legend of Johnny Longboats."

McVoy thinks the location will be and is GORGEOUS and we can find someone spectacular. Cast the net wider for such a site.  Amoroso thinks we could have gone out and cast the net a little farther, but he says that this project has been in the news, it is a very public process, it is on the MLS - people know about this. If there are people out there, there would be people stepping up.  He doesn't want to open up with no tenants.  Maxwell says that he has talked to people that had no idea about it - a national tenant.  Snitkin says he could fill the whole thing with national tenants but was told not to.  Snitkin says that he has requests everyday, but not from restaurants - but for Johnny Longboats.  "The first row of tenants has always been the best row of tenants."  He says he could open a restaurant - he is going to keep trying until he finds them. He doesn't want to open a building with empty restaurant space.

Why are they talking about leases if they weren't going to talk about leases until they had the numbers?  Also, what about the other budget adjustment items?

Amoroso asks why he is just looking at three leases?  Maxwell asks why are we talking about leases and we should be talking about hours.  McVoy wants no later than 11 o'clock - what does closing mean?  Is that last call, etc.?  Are there restaurants that are o.k. with that business model?  Maxwell reminds McVoy that some, most are under the assumption that this is a $6 million building - he thinks it could be significantly more.  If so, it has to be buried in the way the building is being financed and leased.  City Manager says that we will have the beach numbers in six weeks, she says we have the GMP for the building already.  Morganti is looking at doing the GMP for the beach in two phases - one that would support the building and the second phase would be the rest, which would include the lighting.  Margoles says that some funding may come from utility funds - Maxwell says that we haven't decided that yet whether utility money will be involved in the final financial structure for the project.

The City Manager needs to find a different word other than irrespective.

Lots of discussion regarding the $2 million for lights and that it is over and above the $11 million touted for the project.  Maxwell is frustrated that the whole notion seems to be a non-event - that someone on staff knew before that these lights would be needed and it wouldn't be coming out of the County money.  Amoroso repeats that he like 6 to midnight and notes that the pier is now open until midnight.  He also wants to look at the ballroom and the money generating potential of it.  McVoy is FINALLY talking about a linkage between a second floor restaurant and catering opportunities.  Snitkin says they say it would be nice, but it is not enough to sweeten the deal.  JL is not that interested - he is thinking that it would be more of an "approved list."

This discussion seems to be going in circles.  A 1 a.m. closing means midnight last call - Snitkin.  He brings up the idea of food truck rallies.

The Mayor is looking for compromise and she wants the businesses that come to Lake Worth need to be successful.  Amoroso says that we need to write this lease once - and make sure that it is right the first time. He says that for years the beach and the building and the pool did not cover its own operations.  Once and do it right.

I just did a 6 minute video.  They are talking about a special meeting in two weeks to talk about two different proposals and allow for public input.  I am afraid that Commissioner McVoy's "public" equals Annabeth Karson.  He is just one vote.  Amoroso wants all leads exhausted in this two week period.  Maxwell needs some clarity and he wants to know what the project will eventually cost.  He can talk about the hours, but he needs to know how much it will cost.  The City Manager says we won't have those answers until the end of January.  Asking for forgiveness instead of permission, we are - Maxwell.  He doesn't want to put an additional burden on the utilities.  City Manager - Casino project is the most important capital project that we have at this time.  Margoles says that we can't have the final figures until the end of January - Margoles is asking about presenting a worst case scenario and funding options instead.


A couple more vids, will post them later.  At 8:30 they are now on to the other part of the agenda - budget cuts related to repeal of the special assessments.  (I am good until 9 p.m. - and then I will have to pull myself away from all this excitement!)

City Manager is going into the process of amending the budget.  It would require two readings and even if this was a special meeting, action couldn't be taken tonight.  She refers to a $1.6 million figure.  The Mayor says that she was presented this as options and is a proposal that is being considered - nothing has been decided.  She said that she is one vote of five and she is concerned, especially about the library.  She asked for an itemized list for positions being newly created - government money can be spent from separate funds bu cannot be saved from multiple funds.  This is the first change that is presented to them...she is concerned about the time it takes to make itemized break-downs - she just received some of this today.

Maxwell mentions that the PowerPoint is not in the back-up material.  City Manager says they are doing the best in the time that they have.  She says there is not a lot of discretionary money in the General Fund.  Maxwell asks if there is new material that they haven't seen.  The answer is yes.  The Commission doesn't want to go through things that they are just seeing tonight.  Amoroso mentions the trolley and he didn't see that as an option - City Manager says that since that is funded by the billboard monies and it is un-restricted and the most un-restricted money that it has.  But she says you can't use it for something else??  Did I hear that right?  They apparently got A LOT of material today - new - fresh.  Amoroso still has a problem with touching an asset related to Trust funds - ie the library.  He asks the City Attorney and she gave a non-answer - the City Manager says that it is an option, but not one that she likes.  She says we don't spend all of the money.  She says we have to decide, if we want to reduce things, that we aren't going to do things anymore, that is where the real savings are.

Amoroso wants to take the library out of the equation.  Hasn't had the time to really analyze what is going on - money is being moved around and he was saying that in the campaign.  Maxwell says that there are some inconsistencies - library is off limits for him too.   "We need to stop finding boogie men to blame..."  He thinks that the staff took advantage of the two new people on the Commission - 200 pages is a lot - the City Manager's way of thinking is not going to rule the day.

McVoy says 200 pages is a product of professionals that know the requirements of the funds, etc. and it has a lot of restrictions with it.  Laying wreaths at the feet of Stanton now.  "Nobody wants to pay more money, but we want certain things in our community."