County thanks voters for approving increase in sales tax

Palm Beach County is offering thanks to county residents who earlier this month voted to approve a 10-year increase in the sales tax from 6 cents on the dollar to 7 cents on the dollar.

That thank you is carried on the county’s redesigned website, where residents get a breakdown of how the roughly $2.7 billion in additional sales tax money will be distributed.

The county will get 30 percent of the money, which it plans to spend rebuilding parks, roads, bridges and county buildings. Cities will get 20 percent, and the School District of Palm Beach County will get the remaining 50 percent.

palm-beach-county-logo

Boca Raton Unitarians make good on threat to withdraw as voting site in mosque controversy

Bucher
Bucher

A Unitarian congregation in Boca Raton has made it official, withdrawing as a voting site to protest Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher’s pulling a polling place out of a Boca Raton mosque.20161112-bucher-letter-withdrawal

On Wednesday, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Boca Raton forwarded to reporters a formal letter of withdrawal that it sent Bucher on Nov. 12.

“We are saddened that it has come to this. Religious discrimination, and Islamophobia in particular, have been increasing dramatically, even more so since the election,” the group’s secretary, Charlie Cormier, said in an email to reporters. “We had hoped that our county government would not succumb to pressure from

Islamic Center of Boca Raton
Islamic Center of Boca Raton

that segment of our community. We continue to hope that other government offices resist similar pressures in the future.”

 

The group — which said it has served as a polling place for decades, most recently for precinct 4160 — had threatened on Aug. 21 to withdraw after the election if Bucher did not restore the mosque in time for the Nov. 8 vote, which she didn’t. It said its rules forbid to rent to any group that discriminates.

Bucher earlier this summer had selected Islamic Center of Boca Raton, at 3480 N.W. Fifth Ave. near Florida Atlantic University, then decided in July not to use it after she received as many as 50 calls advising her to move the site, with some callers warning her they’d try to block voting or even would call in a bomb threat in order to clear the building.

After the move, Bucher told The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board she felt she had to move the site “when we had a heightened threat that they (phone callers) were going to impede voters. I was very disappointed in our community and saw we have a lot of work to do.”

Bucher’s office didn’t immediately comment Wednesday on the Unitarians’ action.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Valeche out again; ‘I’ll be back next week.’

Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche, noted for recent absences, was out again at Tuesday’s workshop.

“My doctors wanted me to take it easy to the end of the week, so I’ll be back next week for all the meetings,” Valeche said by phone during the workshop’s lunch break.

Valeche’s aide sent commissioners an email Monday afternoon giving notice that Valeche would not attend.

The recently-reelected commissioner, and outgoing vice-mayor, missed weeks of meetings, and was hospitalized for weeks, in late October and early November. He said Nov. 9 he would not stand for the mostly-ceremonial mayor’s post, citing his health.

Valeche did attend last month’s organizational meeting, his first in weeks, and was sworn into his new term. He did not make mention at that meeting of his absences or his health.

Valeche has not describe his health situation, and during the election, opponent Tony Bennett had called on Valeche to be more transparent about his health. Bennett, a Democrat, noted that Republican Gov. Rick Scott would appoint a replacement if Valeche, also a Republican, won re-election and could not finish that four-year term.

Trump pays property taxes in PBC in time for discount

trumptaxes16

Getting elected president of the United States doesn’t get you out of paying your taxes.

President-elect Donald Trump ponied up for real estate he owns in Palm Beach County – including his lavish Mar-a-Lago mansion on Palm Beach – to the collective tune of $190,667.73.

Mar-a-Lago was responsible for $146,927.03 of that bill.

The Palm Beach County Tax Collector’s Office @TAXPBC tweeted out that Trump paid his bills on Monday, in time to get a 4 percent discount for those who pay by the end of November.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. (Getty Images)
President-elect Donald Trump. (Getty Images)

 

Palm Beach County Commission to congratulate Trump

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. (Getty Images)
Trump (Getty Images)
Palm Beach County Commissioner Paulette Burdick (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)
Burdick (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)

Part-time Palm Beach County resident Donald Trump will get a congratulatory letter from the Palm Beach County Commission, but it will be more in the spirit of unity than enthusiasm.

At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioner Steven Abrams suggested drafting such a letter to the president-elect, “wishing him the best in his presidency.”

New Mayor Paulette Burdick, a longtime Democratic activist, looked like she’d bit into a lemon.

“Thank you, Mr. Abrams. Good suggestion,” she said, appearing to want to let the issue die. When Abrams persisted, she said, “If I am directed by the board to do it, I will do it.”

Abrams cited post-election national calls for unity and noted Trump’s connections to the county and the prospects of a “second White House” at his Mar-a-Lago compound in Palm Beach. Where, coincidentally, Trump will be spending the Thanksgiving holiday.

“It shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” said Abrams, a longtime Republican who noted many people crossed party lines on Nov 8,  but didn’t say how he voted.

“We in Palm Beach County are always gracious,” Burdick said. “I’m sure we can draft an appropriate letter to Mr. Trump.”

And Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, also a strong Democrat, said, “it does send the right tone that we’re willing to cross the aisle.”

Palm Beach County Commission picks Paulette Burdick as mayor

img_4894
Bernard
img_4895
Kerner

The Palm Beach County Commission changed the guard Tuesday with laughs, hugs and tears.

The commission also made a surprise pick for its mostly-ceremonial mayor’s post, selecting Paulette Burdick 4-3 over colleague Steven Abrams.

The panel Tuesday said goodbye to Shelley Vana, out by term limits, and Priscilla Taylor, defeated for reelection in August.

It then swore in former state representative Dave Kerner, who won Vana’s seat, and former Delray Beach City Commissioner and former state representative Mack Bernard, who replaces Taylor.

By tradition, outgoing Vice-Mayor Hal Valeche was next in line for mayor. But Valeche, hospitalized for weeks in late October and early November,said Nov. 9 he would not stand for mayor, citing his health.

Since the position was created, the board traditionally has turned to the person who is Vice Mayor and is chairman when the commission sits as the governing board of the Solid Waste Authority. That would be Valeche.

Next up would be Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, the current vice chair of the Solid Waste Authority’s board. But only Burdick and Abrams were nominated Tuesday. McKinlay later was unanimously picked for vice mayor. McKinlay said later she hadn’t sought the top post and was happy with the pick.

Abrams had been the first mayor when the panel switched to the title from “commission chair,” and Kerner said later he voted for Burdick because she hadn’t had the post yet.

In 2013, Burdick, who as vice mayor traditionally would be next in line, was passed over for Shelley Vana in a move she later called “petty” and blamed on her growth-management stances. Burdick said Tuesday that was in the past and she was ready to take on her new duties.

Palm Beach County Commission picks mayor today

palm-beach-county-logo

Mack Bernard, middle, greets guests at an election party at Revolutions at City Place Revolutions at City Place West Palm Beach Tuesday August 30, 2016. ( Meghan McCarthy / The Palm Beach Post )
Bernard
Kerner
Kerner
PBC Commissioner Hal Valeche
Valeche

The Palm Beach County Commission today will swear in two new members and select a mayor.

Democrat Dave Kerner, who’s wrapping up four years as a state representative from suburban Lake Worth, won the race for the central Palm Beach County Commission District 3 seat that Shelley Vana is vacating after today because of term limits. And former Delray Beach City Commissioner and former state Rep. Mack Bernard ousted three-term District 7 Commissioner Priscilla Taylor on Aug. 30.  Newly-reelected County Commissioner Hal Valeche will be sworn into a third term as well.

Not clear: who will be picked for the mostly-ceremonial mayor’s post. Valeche, hospitalized for weeks in late October and early November, said Nov. 9 he would not stand for mayor, citing his health. Since the position of mayor was created in 2013, the board traditionally has turned to the person who is Vice Mayor and is chairman as the commission sits as the governing board of the Solid Waste Authority. That would be Valeche. Next up would be Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, the current vice chair of the Solid Waste Authority’s board.

Also on today’s agenda:

Westlake: A vote to approve changing the boundaries of its Municipal Service Taxing Unit for fire-rescue to include the new city of Westlake.

Cancer Treatment Centers: A vote to approve $357,500 in local incentives for Boca Raton-based Cancer Treatment Centers of America, which will spend at least $14.,5 million to buy and renovate an existing building for its corporate headquarters.

Palm Beach County Commission Meeting: When: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Public comment at 2 p.m.  Where: Sixth-floor chambers, Weisman Palm Beach County Governmental Center, 301 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Bock says she’ll monitor spending of sales tax money

Sharon Bock, Palm Beach County’s clerk and comptroller, has said her office will designate a special account so money from the recently approved increase in the sales tax can be closely monitored.

“A dedicated staff person will be assigned to monitor the receipts coming in, as well as audit any expenditures from this new fund,” Bock said in a statement released Friday.

She added: “Rest assured that my office will examine and account for every penny that is allocated and spent.”

Voters approved a 10-year increase in the sales tax from 6 cents on the dollar to 7 cents on the dollar. The increase is expected to generate $2.7 billion, with the School District of Palm Beach County getting half of that money, the county getting 30 percent of it and cities getting the remaining 20 percent.

County commissioners and staff have said they’ll use the county’s portion – estimated to be about $810 million – to repair parks, roads, bridges and buildings.

In approving the sales tax plan, commissioners also supported the establishment of citizen oversight committees to make sure the money is spent as originally planned. But Bock said she’ll be watching as well.

“As the official ‘watchdog’ of all county funds, I am constitutionally tasked to provide the necessary ‘checks and balances’ on the county’s budget, revenue and spending,” she said.

Bock’s office does have the power to refuse to release funds if she determines that the spending does not serve a public purpose.

“I know your tax dollars are in good hands,” she said. “We are here to protect and preserve public funds with integrity and accountability.”

Palm Beach County Clerk Sharon Bock (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach County Clerk Sharon Bock (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

 

 

Sign up to pay Palm Beach County property taxes in installments

TaxCollectorLogoPeople can sign up to pay property taxes in four installments, Tax Collector Anne Gannon said Monday.

The deadline to apply is April 30, 2017. The plan offers a discount of slightly under 4 percent. Quarterly payments are due by the last day of June, September, December and March.

Property owners can go online and complete a short application. Applications were mailed with all 2016 tax bills or can be picked up at a Tax Collector service center.

In 2016, about 22,117 properties were enrolled in the plan. If you’re in the plan now, you don’t need to re-enroll.

Visit https://www.pbctax.com for more.

 

Palm Beach County judge gives Riviera Beach five days to give activist Fane Lozman a street address

Lozman
Lozman

A judge Monday gave Riviera Beach five days to assign activist Fane Lozman street addresses for the five Singer Island lots of what the activist calls his “Renegade” complex.

Palm Beach County Judge Martin Colin’s order said “credible evidence belies the City’s position” that Lozman hadn’t exhausted his avenues to get the address, saying Lozman first contacted the city via email and written correspondence more than a year ago.

Lozman’s suit, filed Feb. 12 in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, said that, without an address, if there’s an injury, a call to 911 could be catastrophically delayed.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.