PBC being asked for 27 acres of park land for sports fields

PBC Commissioner Hal Valeche

Palm Beach Shores Mayor Myra Koutzen has written to County Commissioner Hal Valeche to express her support for a plan to build sports fields on 27 acres of the North County District Park.

Koutzen notes that Palm Beach Gardens wants to use some of its money from the one-cent sales tax increase to build sports fields on park land, which is located in Valeche’s district.

“As a small community with very limited public space, our residents have particular need of the types of recreational space proposed for that area of the North County District Park,” Koutzen wrote in am email to Valeche. “We are particularly appreciative that Palm Beach Gardens opens their facilities to residents of neighboring communities such as ours. This proposal would support their ability to continue to provide this access in the future.”

PBC looking to boost spending to combat heroin/opioid crisis

Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche at county budget workshop, March 25, 2015 (Staff photo/Eliot Kleinberg)
Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche (Staff photo/Eliot Kleinberg)

Palm Beach County commissioners, opening discussions about their 2018 budget, are considering setting aside $2 million to combat the ongoing heroin/opioid crisis.

The Palm Beach Post has provided extensive coverage of that crisis, which has devastated families and strained the resources of first responders and hospitals.

Commissioners are considering dipping into its reserves to boost current year spending to $1 million to combat the problem.

“I think this is a drop in the bucket given the scale of the problem,” Commissioner Hal Valeche said of the proposed expenditures.

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay agreed.

“Anyone who fails to see this as the public health crisis that it is is walking around with their eyes closed,” she said.

Check with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later today for more on the county’s initial budget discussions.

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.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Valeche: I won’t stand for mayor

PBC Commissioner Hal Valeche
Valeche

County Vice Mayor, and newly-reelected Commissioner, Hal Valeche, hospitalized for weeks, said Wednesday he will not stand for the mostly-ceremonial mayor’s post when the new commission is seated at its Nov. 22 meeting.

“I don’t think I can do it because of my health. I’m going to decline,” Valeche said from Jupiter Medical Center, where he’s been since at least Oct. 24.

On Tuesday night, the 67-year-old Palm Beach Gardens Republican defeated his Democratic challenger, suburban Jupiter attorney Tony Bennett, for a second term on the commission.

For the position of mayor, created in 2013, the board traditionally has turned to the person who is Vice Mayor and also 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.

Valeche has in recent weeks been prominent mostly for his absence. He missed more than two weeks worth of meetings; his last was Oct. 18, at which he arrived late. In a pair of brief emails sent a week apart, Valeche told fellow commissioners he was undergoing tests for gastrointestinal issues when he fell ill and was hospitalized. But the commissioner has not said whether those gastrointestinal issues are the reason for his hospitalization.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Valeche cites illness as the reason for his absences

Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche, who missed a series of county meetings last week, told his colleagues illness is the reason he’s been hospitalized.

“I was scheduled for some medical tests regarding gastrointestinal issues I have been facing when I fell ill the week before last, and was admitted to the hospital,” Valeche wrote to his colleagues this morning. “My doctors and hospital medical staff are working through the issues and I am confident I will be back in action soon. I am grateful for all of the well wishes and outpouring of concern from so many and look forward to getting back to work as soon as possible.”

Valeche, 67, represents District 1, which covers northern Palm Beach County. He is facing re-election.

Commissioners are scheduled to meet on Tuesday. The subject of Valeche’s note was “absence from November 1, 2066 BOCC meeting.”

PBC Commissioner Hal Valeche
PBC Commissioner Hal Valeche

 

Candidates for county commission to attend Economic Forum event

Candidates competing in three Palm Beach County Commission races are scheduled to participate in an event hosted by the Economic Forum of Palm Beach County Wednesday at the Kravis Center’s Rinker Playhouse in West Palm Beach.

Commissioner Hal Valeche and Tony Bennett, competing to represent District 1, Dave Kerner and Sean C. Hogan, the candidates in District 3, and Commissioner Mary Lou Berger and Taniel Shant, vying to represent District 5, are all expected to participate in a forum.

Randy Schultz, former editorial page editor of The Palm Beach Post, will moderate the discussion.

The forum will also introduce Mack Bernard, who will represent District 7 after defeating Commissioner Priscilla Taylor and a pair of other candidates on August 30.

A meet and mingle begins at 11:30 a.m., with the forum/luncheon starting a half-hour later.

Reservations are $70 for non-members and $50 for members and their guests. For more information, contact Jon Kline at 561-373-5488 or 561-622-9920.

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 )
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 )

 

PBC Commission, school board members approve new sales tax plan

During a joint meeting to smooth over differences, Palm Beach County commissioners and school board members agreed on a joint plan to raise the county’s 6-cent sales tax by a penny on the dollar.

Commissioners and school board members had previously agreed on the broad outlines of the tax increase, which would generate $2.7 billion over 10 years for repairs to roads, bridges, schools and county buildings. School board members expressed concern, however, when commissioners changed the plan, stripping out a combined $161 million in funding for cultural projects and for economic development incentives.

On Tuesday at Palm Beach State College’s Lake Worth campus, commissioners and school board members agreed to a revised plan, which includes a provision to end the tax early if $2.7 billion is generated earlier than 10 years.

Check with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later for more on this story.

Valeche says he sees no need to meet with school board on sales tax

Editor’s note: A previous version of this post incorrectly reported that Commissioner Melissa McKinlay does not see a reason to meet with the School Board to discuss changes to the sales tax plan. She does support meeting with members of the School Board.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche blasted a request from the county School Board for a meeting next week to discuss changes to the plan to raise the county’s sales tax.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche at county budget workshop, March 25, 2015 (Staff photo/Eliot Kleinberg)
Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche at county budget workshop, March 25, 2015 (Staff photo/Eliot Kleinberg)

One day after commissioners stripped funding for cultural projects and economic development incentives from the plan, angry school board members demanded a meeting to discuss the plan.

But Valeche, who has long opposed raising the sales tax, said another meeting is unnecessary.

“I for one do not see the necessity of another endless meeting,” Valeche wrote in an email to his colleagues. “We’ve stated our position and it is as clear as can possibly be. I think the time for negotiations with the other parties is over.”

A majority of the seven-member commission is required to hold a special meeting.

Check with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later today for more on this story.

A divided PBC Commission approves sales tax plan

A divided Palm Beach County Commission approved a recommendation to raise the county’s sales tax Tuesday after a back and forth and back again series of motions.

Commissioners voted 5-2 in favor of raising the sales tax from 6 cents on the dollar to 7 cents on the dollar. The tax hike would generate $2.7 billion over 10 year for repairs to roads, bridges, schools and county buildings.

Cultural projects would get $121 million, and a $27 million fund would be established for economic development projects.

While the final vote indicated strong support for moving forward with a sales tax plan, the long debate and its twisting, contradictory series of motions and substitute motions underscore the concern of many commissioners that a plan including funding for cultural projects and economic development could be rejected by voters.

Check with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later today for more on this story.

Effort to pull sales tax increase from PBC Commission agenda fails

An effort to indefinitely postpone debate on a plan to increase Palm Beach County’s sales tax failed today.

Commissioner Hal Valeche, who opposes the proposed increase, said details of how the sales tax money would be spent still needs to be worked out.

Commissioners Melissa McKinlay and Shelley Vana supported Valeche’s move to delay the sales tax discussion, but their four colleagues voted to move forward.

That means the commission will debate the proposed sales tax today.

Check with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later today for more on this story.

PBC Commissioner Hal Valeche
PBC Commissioner Hal Valeche