Politicians conduct listening tours. Over the next month, Assistant Palm Beach County Administrator Todd Bonlarron is heading up a talking tour.
Bonlarron, tapped by County Administrator Verdenia Baker to lead the county’s effort to educate voters on the proposed sales tax increase, is coming to a library near you.
He won’t just be talking sales tax, though. A flier from the county’s library system notes that Bonlarron will discuss ballot initiatives dealing with the homestead tax exemption, solar power and medical marijuana.
State law forbids Bonlarron or any other county official from making overt political arguments, but there is no law against telling voters how the county plans to spend its portion of the roughly $2.7 billion the sales tax increase is expected to generate over the next 10 years.
Bonlarron is scheduled to hit two library branches on Thursday – the Jupiter Branch at 2 p.m. and The Acreage branch at 6:30 p.m. He’ll be at the Lantana Road branch at 3 p.m. on Friday, and he’ll resume the tour on Wednesday with a 1 p.m. stop at the West Boynton Branch.
Voters are encouraged to pre-register and can visit the system’s web site to find out when Bonlarron is scheduled to visit a branch in their area.
Now that Tuesday’s primary is over, expect to hear more from Palm Beach County officials about why it’s a great idea to raise the county’s sales tax. Expect to hear a lot more about that.
On Wednesday night, county staff members began circulating a draft copy of a brochure laying out information about the sales tax and reminding readers that “Election Day Is November 8, 2016.”
County officials can’t make political arguments in favor of raising the sales tax, but they can “educate” voters on what they see as the benefits of an increase. The county will rely on the Economic Council of Palm Beach County for the political push.
The proposed increase from 6 cents on the dollar to 7 cents on the dollar would raise an estimated $2.7 billion over the next 10 years.
That overall figure is not included on the brochure, which was put together by Assistant County Administrator Todd Bonlarron.
The brochure does note that the county would get 30 percent of the proceeds, with cities getting 20 percent and the School District of Palm Beach County getting the remaining 50 percent.
Also included on the brochure are phrases residents should expect to hear often over the next couple months, including the argument that the funds are to be used on “the three R’s: Repair Restore Replace.”
And, of course, the brochure describes the plan as “one county, one penny.”
Former outside lobbyist Rebecca DeLaRosa is Palm Beach County’s new legislative lobbyist, replacing Todd Bonlarron, who in March was named one of three new assistant county administrators. DeLaRosa previously lobbied for the Moya Group and the Tallahassee office of the Greenberg Traurig law firm and also was legislative director for the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. She also was a manager of the Florida Department of Management Services, Bonlarron said Monday in a note to county staff and commissioners.
Scott Marting is Palm Beach County’s new director of risk management. Marting, who had been the department’s manager of property and casualty insurance and claims, was promoted to replace Nancy Bolton, who after 12 years left the post in March when she was promoted to assistant county administrator, along with Todd Bonlarron, Palm Beach County’s lobbyist to the Legislature for 15 years, and retired St. Lucie County Administrator Faye Outlaw, a West Palm Beach native. County Administrator Verdenia Baker announced Martin’s promotion at Tuesday’s County Commission meeting.
“With change comes opportunity for different perspectives and renewed energy,” Baker said in an email to county commissioners and county staff. “All of these individuals are well qualified and possess unique qualities that will serve the residents of Palm Beach County well.”