Budgeting the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District

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Holiday savings

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….

Stay tuned….

Boca Raton – Beach and Park Proposed Budget 2017-2018

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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.

1 COMMENT

  1. PUBLISHER’S COMMENT: At the 8/9/17 meeting, seven (7) comments were received by the District Commissioners from
    concerned residents. Two (2) of these comments were referred to by the Executive Director’s remarks last night, 8/14/17.
    These remarks were on the topics of 2500/2600 N. Ocean Blvd. and the acquisition of Ocean Breeze.
    On the 2500/2600 N. Ocean item, the statement was made that the District is “fully aware” of the public’s concerns. Mr. Koski, apparently had some contact with the city and stated that he anticipated further communications with the city next week. Mr. Koski assured the Commissioners that there was no jeopardy that this item would be imminent in the near future. In essence, the public know no more today than last week as to the position the District would be taking on this matter…a wholly unacceptable response. On the acquisition of Ocean Breeze, Mr. Koski stated that the city would be provided a complete information package by September 7th for their review and the topic would be the sole item on the joint meeting scheduled between the District and the City Council on September 26, 2017. In essence, the public has no new news but at least can look forward to information being available on or about September 7, 2017.
    One additional comment was made about city police and their willingness to enter some parks at any time, day or night, but no suggestion as to how the vagrant population would be handled or the issues of public safety was provided.
    On the whole, the responses given were quite disappointing. Al Zucaro, Publisher

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