$73 Million Windfall….What Will the City do With it?

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On May 4th and 5th , the City Council, senior City staff and a professional facilitator will convene at the City’s 6500 Congress Ave. location for their annual ‘Visioning Session.’   This exercise takes place ever year with the purpose of setting ‘top priorities’ to be accomplished during the next 12 month period.

This year will be a bit different.  It is highly likely that a driving force in consideration will be the proverbial ‘pot of gold’ at the end of the golf course sale.  $73 million is a great motivator…but do we, the residents, trust the current crop of elected leaders to exercise prudence in planning how to spend this one time windfall?

With the ongoing saga of the City of Boca Raton’s western municipal golf course, one topic has been consistently missing from the conversation. Any public body anticipating a windfall like this should have a transparent, responsible plan for it, but that is not the case here.

Does it make you wonder why?  If so, you are not alone.

We all know the bureaucrats in city hall know exactly what they want to do with the money. I am not suggesting I have some specific insight into this, but there is no question the people inside city hall have a plan. In fact, many people think that plan is ‘city hall’ itself.

Planning continues to percolate about a new ‘city hall’, and some are intent on that project being a massive, multi-block reimagining of a significant part of our downtown including Mizner Park, our police department, city hall and surrounding recreation areas.

But this is just conjecture, because the problem is whatever their thoughts, they are not telling us, the residents. As a result, there are conversations happening all over town focused on what neighborhoods, businesses, schools, and individuals think we should do with the money.

I have an idea. It is a big idea, a unique idea for government.

I propose we do nothing with the $73 million at all.

I know this will come as a shocking affront to the people making all those plans in city hall they are not telling us about, but think about it. If we have needs, money has never been cheaper. So why use our money when we can borrow for next to nothing?

If we lockbox the $73 million for 18 months, let’s say, it would act as a cooling off period. Then perhaps we release a portion of the funds for debate on use, safeguarding the majority of the funds as reserves. Of course, this can be structured so in the event of an emergency need the funds can be made available.

But seriously, this sale is creating a true windfall. We do not need the money – we want the money – but that does not mean we have to turn around and spend it right away.

Why not be responsible? Why act like teenagers letting the money burn a hole in our collective pockets? We must be smarter than that.

This is a huge opportunity to be fiscally responsible, and be an example of how city government can be smarter…even if that ‘city hall’ plan might be the final plan?

Let’s exercise discipline….let’s exercise patience…and let’s engage the residents with the public and private sector on partnership ideas before we spend one penny of this taxpayer money.

More on this in the weeks to come!

Al Zucaro, Publisher

561-644-1665

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Alfred Zucaro has resided in Palm Beach County since 1982 and has been a resident of Boca Raton since 2008. A graduate of Fordham University, he holds a Magna Cum Laude degree in Economics. Mr. Zucaro attended Nova University receiving a Juris Doctorate Law Degree in 1986. He is a member in good standing with the Florida Bar, practicing in the area of Immigration Law for the majority of his career. Currently he is manager/member of Palm Beach Investment and Finance LLC, a USCIS approved regional center identifying foreign investment leading to permanent resident status. Mr. Zucaro served as a City Commissioner in West Palm Beach from 1995 to 2002 and as the President of the City Commission in 2000/2001. He has also been a member of and/or served on the Economic Council, the Business Development Board, the Film and Television Commission, the Tourist Development Council, the Workforce Alliance and the Palm Beach International Film Festival. Of particular interest is his founding of the World Trade Center Palm Beach, an organization that focuses on international economic development. Married to Yvonne Boice, they are avid world travelers having visited 6 continents and dozens of countries since their 2008 nuptials.

6 COMMENTS

  1. If the city does not need the money why go to the bother of selling off green areas of the county. I know the sale will be financially beneficial to both the county and the city but are getting more congested. Are we covering the green areas for money when we don’t need it. Let’s keep Boca green and less crowded.

  2. You would think the City of Boca is in dire financial straights since they want to sell off a money making golf course and buy one that never will make money….I really do not understand the logic behind the selling of our Boca Muni course. Do you?

  3. Invest the money! But not in the SBA. (State Board of Administration)
    Our finance department (one of the best in the state) will know how to invest it.
    Buy Negotiable CDs (FDIC insured) or Govt. Agency bonds such as FHLB.

    Don’t try to decide how to spend the money now. There is no need to spend it
    on anything now. Perhaps more oceanfront or intracoastal land will become available
    for purchase. Save it for a future possible acquisition

  4. Why is the City even thinking of selling our current municipal course? It’s a lovely, popular course that is self sustaining, which is unusual in a publicly owned facility. If the City needs $73 million so badly I’m sure there are other assets that could be sold, although I understand that the City is in very good financial condition. As to Ocean Breeze, I understand why the Boca Teeca residents are anxious for the City to purchase and renovate the course so they can recoup their home values. The truth is Ocean Breeze is a mess and renovation would be costly. I’m not sure how good a course it would ever be, certainly not the equal of Osprey Point and probably not as nice as our current course.
    Given that we have a nice course that pays for itself, that the Ocean Breeze course cost and quality is unknown and we don’t need 900 more homes on Glades Road, what are we thinking of.

  5. In order to deliver a world-class waterfront park at Wildflower, it’s going to take money. Like $10-20M. So if we sit on the money we don’t get our waterfront park. The Wildflower Park is an important future landmark for the downtown area.

    Furthermore there are infrastructure needs on 20th Street to facilitate the transition to a University District including burying the light poles, implementation of pedestrian tables, new light poles and landscaping, bike lanes, etc. That’s going to cost money and this windfall can help there.

    That’s not to mention work on Wyman, beach restoration, and possible upgrades to Gumbo Limbo.

    Meaning there are a number of projects where the money is needed.

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