Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District – Proposed Operating Budget – 2017/18 – along with other miscellaneous matters of interest from the public….
KUDOs so far to the efforts of the Beach and Park Commissioners and staff for their insightful discussion of the 2017/18 proposed operating budget requirements from the city of Boca Raton and the impacts on the District’s budgetary decisions…but before exploring that, other topics of interest brought up during ‘public comment’ last Tuesday, 8/9/17, are worthy of your attention. BocaWatch will continue to follow these budget discussions. The next meeting is Monday, 8/14/17, and will be summarized in the Friday BocaWatch blast.
Facing a packed house, not an empty seat to be had, the District Commissioners and staff were presented with a number of items from residents for consideration. In no specific order, the topics raised were as follows:
- Status of the acquisition of the Ocean Breeze golf course;
- Providing storage space for ‘beach cleanup’ equipment, equipment provided at no cost to the public;
- Unpermitted hot water releases from two HVAC units directly into the ocean at the Cloister del Mar Condo Association;
- Providing private nighttime security in the parks for controlling the vagrant population;
- The District’s active opposition to the City granting variances for building permits at 2500/2600 N. Ocean Blvd. and the cutting of mangroves for ocean views at 2519 N. Ocean Blvd.;
- Organic Pest Control measure within the parks;
- Public safety/fire prevention within the parks.
These requests will require budget considerations. Members of the public that are interested in any or all of these topics are encouraged to contact the Beach and Park Commissioners and voice your opinions.
Back to the budget….
To begin, the District Commissioners are perched to propose that the current millage rate be maintained into fiscal year 2017/18; no ‘rollback’ proposed. Maintaining the current millage rate is not the same as not raising taxes. In fact, at last week’s meeting, the District explicitly stated that leaving the millage rate at its current level is actually a tax increase of $1.2 million dollars.
The proposed rate is subject to change at or during the 2 public hearings in September where the millage rate and final budget will be voted upon and decided. The first of these hearings is September 7th at 5:30 P.M. All are encouraged to attend.
Mickey Gomez, the City’s Recreational Services Director presented the Operations and Maintenance budget for operational issues at, amongst other locations, Red Reef, Ocean Strand, Gumbo Limbo, and Countess de Hoernle Parks. Mr. Gomez set the budget request at $16.8 million dollars, a budget including capital expenditures for vehicle replacement and repair.
Mr. Art Koski, Executive Director and Legal Counsel for the district, had, in preparation for this presentation, asked Mr. Gomez to ‘sharpen his pencil’ and reduce the City’s ask to $16.0 million. Mr. Gomez, adjusting for savings in the City’s health care benefits cost, actually was able to reduce the amount to $15.8 million as the City’s base budget.
Why I give this effort KUDOs is because there was an open and transparent discussion directed at identifying cost reductions to pass along to the resident. Facts presented in this discussion are that the City employs 147 full time and 136 part time employees assigned to the beach and parks efforts. The City also charges the district a 40% administrative fee (2/5th of the Recreational services Budget) totaling some $940,000.
After a lot of speculation, argument was made that the city’s budget empirically may have a 10 to 15% fudge factor built into its funding requests made from the District. Alternatives for how to budget the District’s millage revenues have been suggested and are being explored.
Attached below is the proposed budget handout provided at the District meeting, this is subject to change but, at this exploratory stage, will provide you with a reasonable overview.
BocaWatch will continue to monitor the budget process at both the city and the district….