Palm Beach County Vice Mayor McKinlay now chairs Solid Waste Authority

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McKinlay

Palm Beach County Vice Mayor Melissa McKinlay is the new chair of the Solid Waste Authority’s governing board.

County commissioners who sit as the authority board selected McKinlay Wednesday morning at their regular meeting. The vote was 7-0.

The board then selected as officers two new commissioners; Mack Bernard as vice chair and Dave Kerner as secretary.

Mayor Paulette Burdick had nominated Bernard as authority chair but there was no second. Mary Lou Berger then nominated McKinlay.

McKinlay has been the authority board’s vice chair. She succeeds Hal Valeche, who also has been county vice mayor. By tradition, the county commission’s vice mayor heads the authority’s governing board.

Meetings of the governing board are held every other month at Authority headquarters, 7501 Jog Road, West Palm Beach. Call 561-640-4000 or visit www.swa.org.

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 office of community revitalization holds meeting Feb. 15

palm-beach-county-logoIf you want to learn about programs and services county agencies and department offer, and let the county know how it can improve, the county invites you to a meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Vista Center, 2300 North Jog Road in suburban West Palm Beach.

The Countywide Community Revitalization Team meeting is hosted by the county’s Office of Community Revitalization.

For more, call 561-233-5303.

Palm Beach County Tax Collector: property tax discount ends Feb. 28

TaxCollectorLogoFebruary is the last month for property tax early payment discounts, Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon said in a newsletter. Pay by February 28 and save 1 percent.

Property taxes are due by March 31. Taxpayers can use the office’s ePay system; instructions are on the website.

Taxpayers also can sign up for the Tax Collector’s advance installment plan for their 2018 property tax payment; make four payments throughout the year and get a discount of just under 4 percent. Sign up on the website by April 30.

The Tax Collector also offers a tax planner and  services guide. It includes a calendar, information about services, frequently asked questions, and a glossary of tax terms. Pick up a hard copy at one of the Tax Collector’s offices or click here to download. For bulk copies, email ClientAdvocate@taxcollectorpbc.com.

For more, call the tax collector at 561- 355-2264.

 

Atlantis: We support ban on jets at Lantana Airport

citation-i-1-eThe Federal Aviation Administration has yet to rule on whether retired commercial pilot Errol Forman can land his jet at the Lantana Airport. But an interested party has weighed in. The Atlantis City Council, at its Dec. 14 meeting, voted 5-0 to support the 43-year-old embargo,

The town, which is adjacent to the airport, said in its resolution that many people and businesses relied on the ban when they moved there, and the city “believes that it is in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of its residents and businesses” to keep the moratorium in place.

The FAA said in December that Forman’s complaint has merit and the ban “may be unjustly discriminatory and not consistent with the county’s federal obligations.” Palm Beach County Airports Director Bruce Pelly then wrote to county commissioners that the restriction still might be enforceable for reasons of “airspace safety and/or efficiency.”

Forman has told The Palm Beach Post it’s the county that’s infringing on his right to fly at an airport that’s paid for with federal money and open to the public.

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 Federal Aviation Administration gave the county authority to ban jets. It’s the only one in Florida that formally forbids jets.

Palm Beach County ethics panel tosses two complaints

ethics logoA Delray Beach city commissioner and a Palm Beach County Community Services Department supervisor were cleared Thursday by the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics.

The commission found “no probable cause” that Commissioner Shelly Petrolia benefited by nominating a customer of her outside business to the city’s Site Plan and Review Board. According to a memo, on June 7, Petrolia nominated Cynthia Freeburn as one of seven applicants; Freeburn was not picked. The memo said Petrolia did not reveal she and her husband, real estate brokers and had sold Freeburn a home and recently had listed her current home for sale. But an ethics commission memo ruled the $8,885 the Petrolias earned from Freeburn did not meet a $10,000 minimum to constitute a code violation and that she received no direct benefit in exchange for nominating Freeburn.

The commission also found no probable cause that Kathryn McNealy used her official position to manipulate the time sheets of two department employees. A former supervisor alleged McNealy put in hours for two co-workers for time they did not work. But a memo said a commission investigation found no evidence of that and noted the complainant signed off on many of the questioned time sheets and that one of the workers actually ran out of vacation and leave time and accrued some 80 hours of unpaid leave.

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 libraries chief: 4.6mm visitors last year

042910 met library 3.jpgDon’t tell Palm Beach County library people no one uses the library any more.

The county’s library system saw more than 4.6 million visitors on the 2015-2016 budget year, county commissioners heard Tuesday in an update at a workshop.

Crane
Crane

“I’m happy to report our library system is thriving. Our libraries are being used in record numbers,” Director Doug Crane told commissioners.

But all that love means added pressure on the library system, formed in 1969 with one branch in Tequesta and a bookmobile, Crane said. He said the system needs to grow. It already has a spot in mind around the Canyon Town Center west of Boynton Beach. And, Crane said, it’s looking to expand in central and northern Palm Beach County.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Administrator: Palm Beach County on the rise; extra penny will help

Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Baker in 2016 talk (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker started her “State of the County” update Wednesday to a business group by talking about pennies.

“Thank you for your support to reinvest in our community,” Baker said at a breakfast meeting for the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce. She referred to the 1-cent sales tax surcharge voters approved in November. The county, the school board and municipalities will split the money, which mostly will repair and improve roads and buildings.

Now some eight years removed from the real estate crash and recession, Palm Beach County continues on the rise, Baker said.

The county has added 11,500 jobs, its unemployment rate is 5.1 percent, and it is “experiencing a healthier economy with tourism, agriculture, biotech and transportation continuing to be vibrant aspects of what makes the county a great place to live, work and play,” she said.

And, she said, “We are also enjoying record-setting tourism and a robust real estate market. Property values and home sales are up, while foreclosures and interest rates are low.”

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Palm Beach County Attorney: lifeguard benefits fight must go back to bargaining

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A Palm Beach County Commission package of improved pay and benefits for lifeguards, which failed Tuesday in a 3-3 tie, won’t come back to the commission, at least not right away, County Attorney Denise Nieman has told commissioners.

Because the commission was voting on a collective bargaining agreement, it can’t just bring the issue back at its next meeting, Nieman said Friday in an email. Instead, she said, state law requires that the issue go back to County Administrator Verdenia Baker for a new round of bargaining.

“To be clear, this item is not to be resurrected by a Commissioner at the next or any future meeting,” Nieman wrote. “Instead, it’s back to the negotiating table it goes.”

The sweeping agreement, reached in November, and ratified by lifeguards, would provide several employee benefits changes that lifeguards have sought for years. The biggest was that the county would have agreed to approve all applications by lifeguards to the state for “special risk” status, which would nearly double the amount of their Florida Retirement System pensions and would allow them to retire earlier.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.