Taylor hosting meeting to oppose Glades land bill

Palm Beach County Commissioner District 7, Priscilla A. Taylor in West Palm Beach, Florida on March 22, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Former Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor is putting together a breakfast meeting Saturday to call attention to legislation she argues will harm residents of the Glades, an impoverished area along the banks of Lake Okeechobee.

The object of Taylor’s ire is a bill filed in the Florida Senate (SB 10) that calls for the purchase of land south of the lake for a reservoir project that would end the necessity of the lake discharges blamed for the algae bloom that fouled water along the Treasure Coast last year.

The legislation, authored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, calls for the land to be purchased from willing sellers. But Taylor, a former state legislator whose district included the Glades, worries landowners in the area would be compelled to sell.

One area of particular concern, Taylor said, includes a mill that employs more than 1,000 people.

The closing of that mill “would be devastating to that area,” Taylor said, adding that she is frustrated that there have been no public discussions of the legislation’s potential impact.

Taylor is organizing a “call to action” breakfast from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at Payne Chapel A.M.E. Church at 801 9th St. in West Palm Beach.

Solution for excess horse manure?

Palm Beach County has a problem – too much horse manure. And that’s not because presidential candidates keep coming here.

No, the county has a vibrant equestrian industry. But some of the waste from those horses is dumped illegally, threatening the environment.

More companies that recycle or process that waste have wanted to set up shop in the county, but residents, wary of the potential odorous effects of such an operation, have shouted NIMBY (not in my backyard).

County officials now hope they have a solution.

Commissioners have given preliminary approval to an amendment of the county’s comprehensive plan that would allow an equestrian waste recycling pilot project to operate in an area called the Glades tier, a large swath of unincorporated farming land west of Wellington and east of Belle Glade.

The goal is to have the operation located close enough to the equestrian hot spot of Wellington but not close enough to Wellington (or to cities in the Glades, for that matter) for it to foul the air of neighborhoods and depress property values.

Commissioner Priscilla Taylor initially expressed concern that the operation would be foisted upon already economically depressed cities in the Glades, but Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, whose office has been working on the issue, assured her that is not the case.

McKinlay’s district includes the Glades, and she bristled at the suggestion that she would support foisting anything on the area.

Ultimately, commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the amendment, which must be reviewed by state officials before it comes back to the county for final approval.

McKinlay viewed the amendment as a step in the right direction.

“We’ve got hundreds of thousands of tons that need to be disposed of,” she said.

equestrian2

 

PBC forms partnership to rehab complex in Belle Glade

Palm Beach County’s Department of Economic Sustainability has joined forces with the Palm Beach County Housing Authority and a private developer to renovate Covenant Villas, a 144-unit complex in Belle Glade.

The goal is to boost the number of affordable housing units in Belle Glade, one of the poorest communities in the county.

Covenant Villas was built in 1989 and, according to a county press release, is “in need of significant repairs.”

Only 40 percent of the complex is occupied.

The Housing Trust Group is the private developer working with various government entities to upgrade the complex, purchased for $22.3 million through low-income housing tax credits.

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, whose district includes Belle Glade, praised efforts to purchase and renovate the complex.

“It is a testament to the proactive approach Palm Beach County takes to protect and grow affordable, safe, and healthy housing stock in the Glades,” she said.

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay
Commissioner Melissa McKinlay

 

 

 

Belle Glade mayor supports cultural projects in sales tax plan

Belle Glade Mayor Steve Wilson urged Palm Beach County commissioners to use some of the money from a proposed sales tax increase to pay for cultural projects.

The County Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday on a plan to raise the 6-cent sales tax by a penny on the dollar. If the tax increase is approved by commissioners and by voters in November, it would generate $2.7 billion over 10 years for repairs to roads, bridges, school and county buildings.

Cultural institutions like museums, theaters and the zoo can apply to receive $121 million from sales tax money for their projects. Some commissioners, business officials and county residents oppose using sales tax money on cultural projects, arguing that all of the money should be used on county and school projects.

The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County had identified specific projects it recommended for funding, and those projects were initially included in the sales tax plan put together by County Administrator Verdenia Baker.

But after some raised questions about how the council came up with its recommendations, Baker changed her plan, requiring all cultural institutions to compete for sales tax money in a process run by the county.

In a letter written on April 18 and forwarded to commissioners Friday by Cultural Council President Rena Blades, Wilson said he backs using sales tax money on cultural projects.

“While we definitely need additional funding for infrastructure, we also need help in bringing tourism to Palm Beach County, and particularly to western Palm Beach County,” Wilson wrote. “I want to see cultural arts opportunities become more readily available to youth throughout the county, including children and young adults in the Glades region.”

Tuesday’s public hearing will be held on the sixth floor of the Weisman Governmental Center at 301 N. Olive Avenue in West Palm Beach.

(Bill Ingram /The Palm Beach Post): Steve B. Wilson, mayor of Belle Glade
(Bill Ingram /The Palm Beach Post): Steve B. Wilson, mayor of Belle Glade

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.