Palm Beach County Property Appraiser: Fewer people appealed assessments

PAO_LogoJPGThe number of people appealing the assessment of their property was low again this year, the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office said Friday.

As of the Sept. 16, deadline, the appraiser’s office said, 4,266 parcels petitioned to the county’s Value Adjustment Board. That’s 0.6 percent of the 635,000 parcels and 58,750 tangible personal property accounts.

In 2015, owners of 5,197 properties submitted appeals; of those, the board granted 259.

The board can agree to accept petitions after the deadline, under certain circumstances.

For more, call the property appraiser at 561-355-3230 or the VAB at 561-355-6289.

Palm Beach County to offer stress help for caregivers

SC MET 1_1 SENIOR FAIR 17 If you’re a caregiver and, like most, you’re stressed out, there’s help.

Palm Beach County’s Division of Senior Services will conduct a 6-week, once-a-week course, “Powerful Tools for Caregivers,” on Thursdays, Oct 13 through Nov. 17.

Sessions will be 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Mid County Senior Center at 3680 Lake Worth Road, in suburban Lake Worth.

The course helps caregivers to take care of themselves, which helps them better care for their relative or friend. They’ll learn how to reduce stress, improve self-confidence, communicate feelings better, balance their lives, and increase their ability to make tough decisions and find helpful resources.

Admission is free and includes a copy of “The Caregiver Helpbook.”

Class size is limited and pre-registration is required. Call (561) 357-7135.

Palm Tran to install 2-seaters for bus riders

image2Palm Tran riders will have more opportunities to take a load off while waiting for the bus. The county bus agency plans to install 24 new bus stop seats at high-ridership locations in places where right-of-way problems prevent them from having a shelter or bench. The 24 stops selected for the seats account for 23,000 or more riders per month.

The 2-seat assembly, by the Simme-Seat company, attaches directly to a bus stop pole. The make it easier for drives to see waiting riders and provide a safer option for riders than sitting on the curb.

The $13,722 for the seats came from a federal grant.

County Commissioner Priscilla A. Taylor and Palm Tran managers will show off one of the new seats at 10:30 a.m. Monday at a stop at the Presidente Supermarket at Linton Square Plaza, at 1565 S. Congress Ave. in Delray Beach.

PBC forms partnership to rehab complex in Belle Glade

Palm Beach County’s Department of Economic Sustainability has joined forces with the Palm Beach County Housing Authority and a private developer to renovate Covenant Villas, a 144-unit complex in Belle Glade.

The goal is to boost the number of affordable housing units in Belle Glade, one of the poorest communities in the county.

Covenant Villas was built in 1989 and, according to a county press release, is “in need of significant repairs.”

Only 40 percent of the complex is occupied.

The Housing Trust Group is the private developer working with various government entities to upgrade the complex, purchased for $22.3 million through low-income housing tax credits.

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, whose district includes Belle Glade, praised efforts to purchase and renovate the complex.

“It is a testament to the proactive approach Palm Beach County takes to protect and grow affordable, safe, and healthy housing stock in the Glades,” she said.

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay
Commissioner Melissa McKinlay




Expanding Riviera Beach company in line for $89K grant from PBC

Palm Beach County commissioners have given initial approval for an expanding Riviera Beach company to receive a $89,000 economic development grant if it follows through with plans to expand its operations and create 178 new jobs.

The company, whose identity has not been revealed, would receive the $89,000 over eight years. It plans to invest $11.9 million and create 178 new jobs over a five-year period with an average annual wage of $53,484. The company has also pledged to retain 255 existing jobs.

Such economic incentives have drawn some opposition from those who believe the county is paying companies to do what they would do anyway. Commissioners, however, have argued that the incentives help the county recruit and retain businesses that might otherwise leave or never locate their operations here in the first place.

The five-year estimated local economic impact of the Riviera Beach expansion is $342 million.



Palm Beach County: let’s do more for lifeguards

092516-pbc-lifeguards-3Palm Beach County Commissioners told county lifeguards Tuesday they still can’t stand with them on a “special risk” category for better benefits. But the county said it would help them to try to get the rules changed in Tallahassee. And maybe give them a raise.

For decades, lifeguards have tried to get the state-permitted classification, which would nearly double the amount of their Florida Retirement System pensions and would allow them to retire earlier.

They made their case at a Sept. 13 County Commission meeting, started a petition campaign and argued again at Tuesday’s meeting.

If the county concurred with the lifeguards, it would have to make EMT certification mandatory for all of them, including the 35 of the 94 lifeguards who aren’t certified, Assistant County Administrator Nancy Bolton told commissioners Tuesday. She said that would cost about $511,000 a year.

“We do not believe we have a legal basis” to back the lifeguards’ attempts, Bolton said.

She said the proper solution would instead by state legislation, and, if commissioners so directed, her staff would push for it.

The commission directed staff to research that, and changing lifeguards’ job description to avoid complications, and giving lifeguards raises.

To read more, go later to

Palm Beach County OKs tougher pet store rules

Palm Beach County commissioners Tuesday set new rules animal control managers say will help stanch the flow from so-called “puppy mills.”

The vote was 6-0; Priscilla Taylor had had to leave to attend a luncheon.

091316-met-pet-store-02Commissioners had approved the rules on a first vote Sept, 13, following a contentious debate.  Animal rights advocates said it wouldn’t do enough. And the eight pet stores in the county that still could sell dogs and cats were for it; they would be the only game in town.

For Tuesday’s second vote, the county stuck with its stance to “grandfather” in existing pet stores that sell dogs and cats.

But it added a provision to yank permission for two major health or safety violations five years. 

And it moved up the date the rules to take effect, to Oct. 1. Commissioner Melissa McKinlay had said at the Sept. 13 meeting that she worried entrepreneurs would rush to set up a pet store and qualify for the grandfather clause.

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Palm Beach County Commission to tackle pet rules today

091316-met-pet-store-02A contentious set of tough new rules for pet stores goes to a second and final vote at today’s Palm Beach County Commission meeting.

The county’s Department of Animal Care and Control says the rules are designed to reduce the flow of animals from so-called “puppy mills.”

Also on Tuesday’s agenda:

Lifeguards: will again visit pleas by county ocean rescue lifeguards that they be classified as “special risk” in order to get additional benefits.

Child Care: Will consider tough new guidelines for the county’s hundreds of child care centers.

Incentives: Expected to approve $357,000 in incentives to “Project Emblem,” now revealed as Cancer Treatment Centers of America, for its corporate headquarters in Boca Raton; and offer $89,000, as part of a state match, to “Project Cranium,” an as-yet undisclosed company wanting to more its regional headquarters to the county.

Vehicles for Hire: Set to take the second of two votes on new “reciprocity” rules for taxis, limos, and app-based rides such as Uber and Lyft, for five southeast Florida counties.

Palm Beach County Commission Meeting

When: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. 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 Commission to mull new child care rules

mnpd-031302-npd-childcare-bDid your last child care center have a bounce house? The next one won’t, if a new set of rules is approved by Palm Beach County Commissioners at their meeting Tuesday.

Much  of the changes the commissioners, sitting as the Child Care Facilities Board, will consider on Tuesday, are housekeeping. But the 57-page package includes tough new guidelines for the county’s hundreds of centers.

Some of them:

  •      Bring the county into new state standards.
  •      Add requirements for transportation of children, safety at outdoor play areas.
  •      Add or clarify training requirements.
  •      Raise annual license fees for family child care homes from $40 to $80, and set fees for large homes at $150.
  •      Ban trampolines and bounce houses, and ban candles and plug-in air fresheners indoors.
  •      Ban smoking inside child-care facilities.

According to a memo for Tuesday’s meeting, as of December 31, 2015, 726 permitted child care providers operated in Palm Beach County, with a capacity of 49,957 slots for children. Of these, 437 were centers and 289 were home-based.

Minto starts work on expansion of Seminole Pratt Whitney

Minto Communities is touting its work to expand Seminole Pratt Whitney Road in the new city of Westlake.

The builder’s plans call for the construction of 4,500 homes and 2.2 million square feet of non-residential development on 3,800 acres along both sides of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road. In getting its project approved by Palm Beach County, Minto agreed to expand Seminole Pratt Whitney Road.

County commissioners, displeased by Westlake’s incorporation in June, have wondered aloud whether Minto plans to honor commitments it made to set aside land for parks, recreation and drainage, areas over which the new city now has control.

In a press statement, Minto made clear its intention to follow through with the widening of Seminole Pratt Whitney.

“As part of our development order with Palm Beach County, we agreed to step up and commence construction on this substantial improvement to Seminole Pratt Whitney before putting a shovel in the ground for our new community,” Minto Vice President John Carter said. “We are pleased to see this major transportation improvement project starting.”

The project is estimated to cost $19 million and will take one and a half years, Carter said.

Seminole Pratt Whitney is to be expanded from two lanes to four with a landscaped median. The road will be widened from the northern end of Seminole Ridge High School to just past 60th Street North.

John Carter, vice president of Minto Communities, discusses the company's controversial Minto West project in West Palm Beach, Florida on July 30, 2014. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
John Carter, vice president of Minto Communities, discusses the company’s controversial Minto West project in West Palm Beach, Florida on July 30, 2014. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)