Palm Beach County Commission to set sales tax advisory panel


Palm Beach County Commissioners, at their regular meeting today, will formally establish a 17-member advisory committee that will monitor how dollars from the 1-cent sales tax surcharge will be spent. Voters Nov. 8 approved the extra penny, which is projected to raise $2.7 billion over the next decade. Half will go to county schools, 30 percent to the county and 20 percent to individual cities.

Other items on the agenda:

Lifeguards: Will hold a closed session to discuss an agreement with ocean rescue lifeguards over pay, training and “special risk” status.

Legislature: Would approve a priority list of county requests to the Legislature’s 2017 session.

5-year plan: Will hear the county engineering department’s 5-year plan for road projects.

Airport: Would approve $950,000 — $760,000 of that from a Florida Department of Transportation Grant — to build hangars at the Palm Beach County Glades airport in Pahokee.

Jail: Would approve a change order that would mean $126,609 in savings in a $4.1 million contact to replace water lines under the east tower of the Palm Beach County Jail.

Incentives: Would approve $25,000 in incentives for “Project Chop,” which now can be revealed as West Palm Beach-based Granite Telecommunications. The firm will move its regional headquarters.

Palm Beach County Commission Meeting

When: 9:30 a.m. today. Public comment at 2 p.m. Where: Sixth-floor chambers, Weisman Palm Beach County Governmental Center, 301 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach

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Palm Beach County holds closed talks Tuesday on lifeguards’ ‘risk’ status

092516-pbc-lifeguards-3Palm Beach County ocean lifeguards’ years-long fight for “special risk” status is set to go behind closed doors Tuesday.

County administrators plan to meet with commissioners before Tuesday’s regular meeting to discuss the concept. Because it’s a form of collective bargaining, the meeting will be behind closed doors. County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay would say Wednesday only that it will cover “the staff direction we gave at previous meetings.”

The lifeguards have tried to get the county to grant them a state-permitted classification, which would nearly double the amount of their Florida Retirement System pensions and would allow them to retire earlier. The county has balked.

But in late September, commissioners directed staff to research supporting state legislation that would automatically apply “special risk” to ocean rescue guards.

Commissioners also have asked county staff to look into changing the job description for ocean rescue guards, perhaps to have them automatically declared EMTs — emergency medical technicians — which also would help the county avoid having to give back-benefits to previous lifeguards.

And the county has suggested across-the-board raises.

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Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation meets next week in Belle Glade

palm-beach-county-logoThe third and last hearing of the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation before the 2017 session starts will be 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. next Monday, Dec. 19, at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center on the Palm Beach State College Belle Glade campus, 1977 S.W. College Drive, Belle Glade.

At the hearing, the group — comprised of Palm Beach County’s state senators and state representatives — will vote on the local bills submitted for consideration and will take comments from the public. The proposed local bills can be found on the delegation website:

For more, call the delegation office at 561-355-2406.


Palm Beach County Clerk Bock: I’ll close Royal Palm Beach center on Fridays



Describing it as yet another consequence of what she’s called deficient money from the state, Palm Beach County Clerk and Comptroller Sharon Bock said Friday she’s closing her “Midwestern Communities” service center in Royal Palm Beach on Fridays.

The new hours start Aug. 5 at the center, at 200 Civic Center Way, Suite 500.

Bock has said her budget took a $2.6 million cut this budget year, leading to layoffs and branch closings. She already closed operations on Fridays last year at her offices in the North County and South County courthouses.

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Palm Beach County gives a “go” to rules for Uber-style firms

Uber01Palm Beach County Commissioners Tuesday finally set rules for Uber and Lyft and similar app-based ride operations.

The ride companies have said the rules are enough to guarantee they will operate safely. But taxi firms say rules don’t go far enough to protect the public and give the ride services an unfair advantage.

Palm Beach County set a temporary operating agreement for app-based ride services in September 2014. A year later, the county opted not to set its own permanent rules and continued its temporary agreement, hoping that the Florida Legislature would enact uniform regulations for the entire state. In mid-March, the state body adjourned without a law in place. With the county’s temporary agreement set to expire April 30, the issue came back to commissioners.

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Legislature balks on Uber rules; issue goes back to Palm Beach County Commission



The contentious issue of how to regulate Uber and other app-based ride programs, and what it means for the traditional taxi and limo industry, could be back before the Palm Beach County Commission as early at next month.


The issue could come back to the commission’s April 5 meeting, Brock Rosayn, president of Metro Taxi of Palm Beach County and a member of the county’s Vehicle for Hire Advisory Committee, said Sunday.

In September, Palm Beach County opted not to set new rules, instead calling on the Florida legislature to enact uniform regulations for the entire state. On March 1, county commissioners extended their September 2014 temporary operating agreement


to the end of next month, to see what Tallahassee did.

On Friday, the state body adjourned without a law in place.

“I guess it puts it back into square one as far as the Uber debate,” Commissioner Steven Abrams said Sunday.

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Palm Beach County: give Uber two more months

020115-UBER-3UPDATE: March 1, 9:40am: At the start of today’s Palm Beach County Commission meeting, County Administrator Verdenia Baker said the proposal has been changed to end the temporary operating agreement not at the end of September but to instead extend it just another two months to the end of April.

Palm Beach County Commissioners are set at their next meeting, March 1, to extend for another six months the operating agreement with Uber app-based ride program and similar outfits that already is approaching a year and a half.

Palm Beach and other South Florida counties, and the entire state, have been wrestling with rules for Uber and other operations. Taxi and limo firms have said a person’s in just as much danger getting into a stranger’s private car as a taxi and that the app-based firms’ drivers should have the same background check and insurance rules. Uber argues it’s a different animal.

Uber wasn’t helped by this week’s shooting binge by a Michigan Uber driver that left at least six dead. Uber has said the driver had no criminal past and had passed background checks.

The county commission set the 1-year temporary deal in September 2014. In September 2015, it voted to extend it to March 31 or until the Legislature passed uniform statewide rules for such providers. But the Legislature still is wrestling with proposals; thus the commission’s proposed stopgap.