It pays to manage a city or a county

Lantana Town Manager Deborah Manzo

When Palm Beach County commissioners recently contemplated extending the contract of County Administrator Verdenia Baker, they had at their disposal a salary survey to show where her pay would slot among peers in different parts of the state.

One consideration, in general terms, is this: the bigger the population of residents, the more responsibility for the county or city manager and, thus, the more loot they should be paid.

Baker’s salary is $273,183 per year – less than her fellow administrator in Broward, which has a larger population than Palm Beach County, and more than fellow administrators in Orange, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, all of which have smaller populations than Palm Beach County.

But the salary survey didn’t just include county administrator pay. It showed how much some city managers rake in, as well.

Turns out, they rake in quite a bit, regardless of the size of the populations they serve.

Take, for example, Fort Lauderdale’s city manager, who, according the survey, pulls in a hefty $238,222 per year, despite the fact that the city only has 176,013 residents. Miami’s city manager makes $224,663 while the city’s population stands at 417,650.

But those are famous, large cities with complicated challenges, right?

Miramar’s city manager brings in a cool $199,000 overseeing services to a city of 130,288, according to the county survey. Pembroke Pines, with a population of 166,611, pays its city manager $274,996.

No administrators or managers, however, are making out quite as well on the pay-per-population scale as Lantana’s town manager and Palm Beach Gardens’ city manager.

Lantana’s town manager makes $131,586 overseeing services to a town of 10,737 residents. And Palm Beach Gardens’ city manager makes $225,835 to oversee services to 52,923 residents, the survey shows.

That’s more than the $224,789 West Palm Beach pays its city manager. West Palm Beach’s population is 102,436, nearly twice that of Palm Beach Gardens.

FAA to Palm Beach County: Let jets land at Lantana airport

The 44-year ban on jets at Lantana’s airport is over. The Federal Aviation Administration wrote Palm Beach County this month to say small jets now can land at the airport, though they’re limited to one of its three runways.

The agency “has concluded that permitting jet aircraft operations” on the one runway “will not affect safety or efficiency at LNA (Lantana) or surrounding airports,” FAA airport compliance specialist Deandra Brooks said in a March 17 letter to the lawyer for 76-year-old retired Eastern Airlines pilot Errol Forman of Hypoluxo.

Lantana, just 7 air miles from Palm Beach International Airport and officially named Palm Beach County Park Airport, is the subject of a 1973 agreement in which the FAA gave the county authority to ban jets. It’s the only one in Florida that formally forbids jets.

Forman had protested in April 2016 to the feds, arguing the rule is archaic and was instituted when small jets were far noisier than they are now.

“It looks like the FAA made a reasonable decision,” Forman said Monday.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

 

Home caregivers: March 1 is deadline to get licensed in Palm Beach County

(Gary Coronado/The Palm Beach Post)
(Gary Coronado/The Palm Beach Post)

Those providing in-home care to seniors and other vulnerable adults have had a year to get licensed. That grace period ends March 1, and those without licenses face a $500 fine and up to two months in jail, according to Palm Beach County’s Consumer Affairs Division.

The Palm Beach County Commission voted in October 2015 to require caregivers who hadn’t already done so to submit fingerprints and undergo a national criminal background check. Commissioners said their goal was to make it harder for seniors and physically or mentally disabled adults to be abused by those purporting to care for them.

Those who have committed a serious criminal offense such as fraud, elder abuse or exploitation, homicide, burglary or theft will be ineligible for the license, which must be renewed every five years.

Home-care agencies that already require employees to undergo fingerprinting and a background check must provide the county with an affidavit attesting to that fact. In those instances, the employee would still be required to be photographed and obtain a physical license, which is expected to cost $20.

Others working independently must undergo the background check, fingerprinting and photographing at a cost of about $75.

 

Lantana Airport businesses: Trump’s weekend visit cost us as much as $50,000 in lost commerce

 

Miller (Palm Beach Post/Damon Higgins)
Miller (Palm Beach Post/Damon Higgins)

The first visit by new President Donald Trump cost aviation-related businesses at Lantana Airport an estimated $50,000 this past weekend alone, and with Trump reportedly making another visit next weekend, a flight school that’s the airport’s biggest tenant already is looking to leave Palm Beach County, an airport manager said this week.

It’s not just this past weekend; “the question is ‘how many of those 3-day periods do you have?”” Jonathan Miller, CEO of Stellar Aviation, said late Monday.

Stellar Aviation is the “fixed base operator,” and the landlord of sorts, for several businesses that operate at the airport, which has been listed as the 10th busiest “general aviation” air facility in the country.

By edict of the U.S. Secret Service, any time the president is at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, a series of flight restrictions are put in place. They’re much stronger than those in effect when Trump visited while president-elect, and effectively shut down the Lantana airport.

County Airport’s chief Bruce Pelly said late Monday that, with Air Force One having gone wheels up just hours earlier, it was too early to get a handle on the impact of the flight restrictions.

Bruce Pelly did say that he’s had no reports that any aircraft violated the concentric 1-mile, 10-mile and 30-mile restriction zones around what Trump has called his “winter White House.”

Pelly said he’s “still trying to get a head count” on flights that came through the area after getting security clearances at “gateway airports.”

Stellar’s Miller said Palm Beach Flight Training was shut down this weekend and company president Marian Smith suddenly is looking at a second dark weekend now that the president reportedly will be right back at Mar-a-Lago for talks with the prime minister of Japan.

“Her basic comment to me was that if this continues consistently and we’re shut down consistently, we’re going to have to move our opreaton out of the county complete.y.,” Miller said.

He said Smith already has told him some students have dropped out of the school. Smith couldn’t be reached late Monday.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

 

 

Palm Beach County Commission to hear federal priorities today

palm-beach-county-logoThe Palm Beach County Commission will hear a roundup of its federal priorities at today’s meeting.

Part-time Palm Beacher Donald Trump now is in the White House, and Palm Beach County officials have been studying how actions taken by his administration could be a boon to the county – or they could block progress in areas where the county can’t succeed without federal help.

Also on today’s agenda:

Animal Care: Will get a report on how the county’s Department of Animal Care and Control collects, and spends, money from rabies tags.

Code: Set to approve the settlement of four large unrelated code violations, reducing penalties from more than $1 million to just thousands.

Court Security: Will get an update on plans to overhaul the security system at the Palm Beach County courts complex.

Jet: Will “receive and file” a resolution passed by town of Atlantis opposing the allowing of jets at Lantana.

Palm Beach County Commission Meeting:

When: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. 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.

Palm Beach County hosts 5th annual “Dark Sky” festival Saturday

A photo taken at the Pine Glades Natural Area, west of Jupiter Farms. (Photo: Tania Melendez)
A photo taken at the Pine Glades Natural Area, west of Jupiter Farms. (Photo: Tania Melendez)

The fifth annual Dark Sky Festival is set for 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4 at Okeeheelee Nature Center, in Okeeheelee Park, 7715 Forest Hill Blvd., one mile west of Jog Road.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is organized by the county’s Environmental Resources Management and Parks & Recreation departments, to “celebrate the night and turn down the lights” by exposing people to astronomy and the importance of protecting dark skies for the benefit of both people and wildlife.

The festival will include stargazing with local astronomers, nighttime photography lectures, exhibits, vendors, nature walks, a children’s activity area, food trucks, a campfire and more.

For more, call 561-233-1400 or visit the event’s Facebook page.

Palm Beach County commissioners spar over school “choice” proclamation

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)
Burdick
Abrams
Abrams

A routine vote on a Palm Beach County proclamation at Tuesday’s county commission meeting prompted a lengthy discussion on school choice.

Commissioner Steve Abrams was asked to introduce declaring Jan. 22-28 as “School Choice Week in Palm Beach County.” The motion passed, but Mayor Paulette Burdick and new commissioner Mack Bernard voted no and did not sign the proclamation.

“If you go on their web site, it is very much about charter schools. It is very much about using public funding for vouchers and scholarships,” Burdick, who sat on the county school board from 1994 to 2010, said of the group National School Choice Week.

Abrams said the group is non-partisan and doesn’t lobby and that it fully supports the option of public schools.

“It’s not about charters,” he said. “It’s not about vouchers. It’s not about tuition tax credits. All those controversial type issues. It’s about appreciating that we offer choices in the county.”

Abrams said that after hearing fellow commissioners weren’t comfortable with the group’s original proposed wording, he rewrote it himself “to best reflect the types of choices our parents and

The proclamation “does not have to do with certain types of schools that some of us, myself included, are not happy about,” said colleague Mary Lou Berger, who said she and her siblings spent their youths in parochial schools. “It’s about the choice that parents have.”

Abrams then offered to change the wording to refer only to choice in Palm Beach County; “then we don’t have to affiliate with that group at all.” He even changed the date to Feb. 22-28.

Burdick still felt the commission, by approving the proclamation, was at least indirectly supporting the national group. Bernard did not speak on the issue.

Housing Seminar set for Jan. 23 in Belle Glade

022215-met-pbg-house-repair-04Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay will host a seminar for homeowners and local contractors from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Palm Beach County Public Library Belle Glade Branch, at 725 NW 4th St. in Belle Glade.

The event will provide information about low-interest rate loans for home improvement projects. Financing is available at below market-rates and homeowners with poor and limited credit history are eligible to apply. Local contractors also are invited to learn more about how these financing programs can help their businesses:

Programs:

  • *U.S. Department of Energy low-interest rate loans to for energy efficiency improvements.
  • The non-profit Solar and Energy Loan Fund, which provides low-interest rate options for improvements. Call (772) 468-1818.
  • Contractor recruitment for SELF. Approved local contractors can use SELF financing options.
  • Job training programs available from the building trades.

Palm Beach County to claim $3.4 million in federal aid for Hurricane Matthew costs

Matthew Oct. 6
Matthew Oct. 6

Palm Beach County is set Tuesday to formalize its agreement for federal aid for at least $3.4 million in costs associated with Hurricane Matthew’s glancing blow in October.

Palm Beach is one of 15 counties along the east side of the peninsula that qualified for Federal Emergency Management Agency aid under a FEMA declaration issued in late October.

Palm Beach County commissioners will vote on the agreement at their meeting on Tuesday.

Palm Beach County government and the 39 municipalities and other agencies had to collectively total at least $4.7 million in costs to qualify, county Public Safety Director Stephanie Sejnoha said Thursday. She said the $3.4 million estimate is exclusively for the county and she did not have figures for the other entities.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Cold War sub would sink off Jupiter, become Florida’s first sub artificial reef

(USS Clamagore Preservation & Memorial Assn)
(USS Clamagore Preservation & Memorial Assn)

For decades, a 320-foot Cold War-era submarine has been a floating tourist attraction in downtown Charleston S.C. Now a group hopes to sink it off Jupiter, perhaps as early as this summer, as part of Palm Beach County’s renowned 150-plus piece artificial reef program and as an “underwater museum.” Organizers said it would be the first sub ever turned into a reef in Florida.

Palm Beach County plans to sink the USS Clamagore, the “Gray Ghost of the Florida Coast,” in about 100 feet, according to a memo for Tuesday’s county commission meeting.

County Commissioners would vote to approve paying a Miami firm $1 million. The money will come from a vessel registration fee trust fund.

The diesel-powered Clamagore, built in 1945, just after the end of World War II, ran up and down the Atlantic coast from Key West to Charleston and trained sailors to track Soviet nuclear subs. It was retired in 1975 and since 1981 has been docked since at the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum in Charleston.

According to the memo for Tuesday’s commission meeting, while the sub has been a popular draw, it has “structural fatigue” so extensive it’s not practical to repair it enough for tourists to safely tour it. Several groups had suggested new homes for the sub but couldn’t come up with the money.

The museum decided the sub deserved a better fate than a scrapyard and signed a deal last spring with Artificial Reefs International-Clamagore, a subsidiary of Miami-based CRB Geological and Environmental Services, to find a home for it somewhere in the ocean, ARI principal Joe Weatherby said Tuesday.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.