Palm Beach County Mayor Berger: ‘State of County’ is ‘thriving”

Palm Beach County is on the move, attracting new business, and ready to get around to some much-needed handyman

Berger
Berger

projects, County Mayor Mary Lou Berger said Wednesday at the annual “State of the County” breakfast of the Chamber of the Commerce of the Palm Beaches.

“This truly is, together as a community, a perfect place,” Berger told the gathering at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

In the last year, the county has experienced “record tourism and a robust real estate market,” Berger said.

And, herself hours removed from being reelected Tuesday as District 5 county commissioner, she cheered the passage of the 1-cent county sales tax surcharge for schools, roads and parks.

“We’re going to get that stuff done,” Berger said.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Palm Beach County Mayor Berger gives ‘state of the county’ Thursday

Berger
Berger

With the fallout from Tuesday’s national election still settling, Palm Beach County pivots back to local politics Wednesday morning, as the county’s mayor, District 5 Commissioner Mary Lou Berger, presents the annual “State of the County” address at a breakfast meeting of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches.

Berger also will know by Wednesday morning whether she herself is a lame duck, or has fended off a challenge by suburban Boca Raton GOP newcomer Taniel Shant.

She also likely will weigh in on whether voters approved the 1-cent sales tax surcharge the county proposed in order to generated what it said is much needed money for schools, roads and parks.

Wednesday’s event is from 7:45 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Palm Beach County Convention Center,  650 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Call (561) 833-3711.

County scaling back emergency operations after near miss

Palm Beach County, breathing a collective sigh of relief, is scaling back emergency operations after its brush with Hurricane Matthew caused minimal damage.

“It’s been busy,” County Mayor Mary Lou Berger said during a press conference Friday at the county’s Emergency Operations Center. “It’s been interesting. It’s been annoying. It’s been exciting. But we have gotten through this.”

All evacuees can return, and the county is under no warnings or other advisories, County Administrator Verdenia Baker said.

An assessment found no damage to county structures or assets. About 38,750 people in the county lost power. FPL said it expects to restore power to all customers by Saturday.

Power outages or internal malfunctions have knocked out 20 to 30 traffic signals. The county urges residents to treat intersections with non-working traffic signals as a four-way stop.

Intracoastal bridges remain closed to boat traffic but are open to motorists.

Some 7,560 people sought refuge from Hurricane Matthew at the county’s 13 shelters, with 184 people staying at the special needs shelter at the South Florida Fairgrounds.

The pet-friendly shelter at West Boynton Recreation Center reached full capacity, with 245 people and 200 animals.

County staffers fielded 5,289 calls from residents who had questions about everything from warnings to road closures.

The Emergency Operation Center, where some county staff have stayed overnight monitoring the storm, will scale back its operations at 5 p.m. but will remain at an elevated level of readiness until Saturday afternoon or longer if needed.

County officials were ready for questions about whether they acted too aggressively given the muted impacts of the storm.

Baker said she would not change the county’s actions and warnings. Emergency Management Director Bill Johnson agreed.

“If folks have doubts whether we made the right decision, they just need to look up the coast a little and see what damage the storm is doing,” Johnson said.

Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

 

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.

Sales tax meeting to be held at Palm Beach State College

A joint sales tax meeting of the Palm Beach County Commission and the county School Board will be held Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday at Palm Beach State College’s Lake Worth campus.

School board members requested the meeting on Wednesday, a day after county commissioners changed the plan to raise the county’s 6-cent sales tax by a penny on the dollar.

A combined $161 million of the $2.7 billion the tax would generate over 10 years was directed to cultural projects and economic development incentives. Commissioners, however, stripped out that funding, angering school board members.

A majority of commissioners had to agree to hold a joint meeting with school board members. County Mayor Mary Lou Berger and commissioners Priscilla Taylor, Shelley Vana, Melissa McKinlay and Paulette Burdick signed off on the meeting, which will be held in the Wattenbarger Conference Room of the college’s Center for Bachelor’s Programs building.

Mary Lou Berger
Mary Lou Berger

 

Keep your information, thank you very much

As Palm Beach County commissioners sifted through challenges regarding the 2017 budget during a meeting at the Palm Beach County Convention Center Tuesday, Commissioner Paulette Burdick had an idea.

The county should look into tying insurance costs to the lifestyles of employees, Burdick suggested. Making healthier choices – say, quitting smoking or losing weight – could reduce an employee’s health care costs.

The county has a voluntary program like that now, and Burdick’s colleagues made it clear they didn’t want it to go beyond voluntary.

After several skeptical questions – Commissioner Steven Abrams wondered aloud if employees would be asked to provide blood for testing; Commissioner Shelley Vana asked how the county might learn about an employee’s binge drinking on the weekend – Burdick told county staff she still wants her colleagues to get information on how such an insurance program could work.

“It’s clear they don’t understand it, or I am not articulating it well enough,” Burdick said.

That comment didn’t sit well with her colleagues.

“I don’t want the information,” Abrams said, saying he’d oppose implementing such a program, which he described as overly intrusive.

Vana didn’t want the information, either.

“If I need more information on a topic, I will request it,” she said. “I don’t need another commissioner to request it for me.”

After an uncomfortable pause, County Mayor Mary Lou Berger stepped in: “Moving on to another topic…”

Palm Beach County Commissioner Paulette Burdick talks about her desire to discuss issues regarding Uber and public safety, instead of putting it off, during a Palm Beach County Commission meeting on Sept. 22, 2015. The commissioners voted to extend Uber's temporary operating agreement until the end of March 2016 or until the state legislature makes any decisions.  (Brianna Soukup/Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach County Commissioner Paulette Burdick (Brianna Soukup/Palm Beach Post)