PBC residents get chance to weigh in on state constitution

Should Florida’s constitution be amended? How should it be amended?

Palm Beach County residents will have a chance to weigh in on that statewide discussion on April 7, when the Constitution Commission swings through the county to get input.

The commission, which hears testimony, performs research and identifies important issues, will hold a public hearing at Florida Atlantic University’s Stadium Recruiting Room at 777 Glades Road in Boca Raton from 9 a.m. to noon. The meeting is free and open to the public.

The commission meets once every 20 years and travels around the state to get input from residents.

Boca Raton opposes sales tax increase

The city of Boca Raton officially opposes the proposed increase in Palm Beach County’s sales tax.

In a letter from Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie to County Mayor Mary Lou Berger, the city laid out its many objections to the tax increase, which would generate an estimated $2.7 billion for upgrades to roads, bridges, schools and county buildings.

The tax is regressive, the city noted, meaning those at the lower end of the income scale will pay a higher portion of their income on the sales tax than will people who are better off financially.

There are other problems with the sales tax, too, Haynie wrote.

Cities, the county and the school district would all share the tax proceeds, but Haynie said Boca’s cut wouldn’t be big enough “given the size of the amount of business conducted within its boundaries, in relation to the amount that is estimated to be generated b the City of Boca Raton’s businesses and residents.”

Haynie added that: “A sales tax increase will adversely impact businesses and merchants in the city of Boca Raton because consumers may choose to avoid the sales tax by shopping in neighboring Broward County. The City believes that the potential impact to businesses and residents within the City far outweigh the benefits received by its citizens.”

However…

Should the tax increase be approved by voters on November 8, Haynie offered suggestions for where some of the money should be spent: in and around Boca Raton.

Some of the Boca-area projects Haynie wants the county to use sales tax money to pay for include:

-resurfacing Congress Avenue from Yamato Road to Clint Moore Road

-resurfacing Clint Moore Road from Military Trail to Congress Avenue

-resurfacing Palmetto Park Road from Military Trail to Interstate 95

-resurfacing Camino Real east of I-95

Even cities, towns and villages whose representatives opposed the sales tax increase will get some of the proceeds if it’s approved by voters. Enough municipal governments have already supported the tax increase to put it on the ballot.

Count Boca Raton in the “no” category. But if the tax increase passes, Haynie wrote that “it is the City’s strong belief that any and all County projects within the City should be accelerated and funded.”

Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie
Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie

Palm Beach County Attorney: let state decide on e-cigarettes

Nicholas Quintero, manager of Atmos Electronic Cigarette, demonstrates an e-cigarette in the West Palm Beach store Tuesday, November 19, 2013. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)
Nicholas Quintero, manager of Atmos Electronic Cigarette, demonstrates an e-cigarette in the West Palm Beach store Tuesday, November 19, 2013. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Let the state decide where people can smoke e-cigarettes, Palm Beach County Attorney Denise Nieman has told county commissioners.

In a memo sent Thursday, Nieman said the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, created before e-cigarettes, bans only lighted tobacco products, which the e-cigs are not.

Nieman
Nieman

Several South Florida entities, including the cities of Delray Beach and Boca Raton, have specifically outlawed the devices in places where the Act forbids tobacco smoking, but “the reach of each (ban) varies,” Nieman wrote.

If the commission moved to ban e-cigarettes in all indoor workplaces in Palm Beach County, both private and public, it would be difficult to enforce, and authorities also would have to decide on penalties, she said.

Read the full story.