Kudos is again extended to the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District Commissioners for their commitment to an open and transparent approach in the District’s budgeting process for the upcoming 2017-2018 budget year. Acknowledgement must also be given to city staff members who have been available at the District’s meetings for explanation of the financial requests being made of the District for commissioners and residents to review. City Administration/City Council might take a lesson here. City Council members should demand that the City Administration publish the draft proposed budgets for review so residents might be able to prepare remarks in advance of the two budget setting hearing in September.
Attached below is the proposed 2017/18 Capital Improvement Program presented to the District Commissioners by Mickey Gomez, the city’s Recreational Services Director. As uncovered in last week’s analysis of the Operating Budget, the Capital Improvement Program also has details that, when looked at closely, fall into the ‘fudge factor’ category. Of particular note in this category is the $900,000 for Phase 2 of Countess De Hoernle Park requested under the Municipal Services section of the budget proposal. This expenditure is being earmarked for further discussion before final budget approval. In fairness, this fudge factor may be due to logistics in differing budgetary and policy matters between the City and the District. One such comment was made by Dan Grippo, Municipal Services Director, where he stated that “Some numbers put into a typical project is a 10% factor for design….while not taken into account (design) work already done.” Further into the proposed budget is expenditures for ‘Vehicles’. The total ‘ask’ by city staff was $412,800. After discussion, this number has been reduced to $235,000.. In essence, under a closer scrutiny of just these two items, the District Commissioners tentatively reduced the city’s budgetary ask by over $1 million dollars.
Other items of interests raised in the discussion were the following:
- The City’s Request for Proposal (RFP) process takes between 8 to 9 months from issuance (this is an overly optimistic timeline from my experience);
- Still remaining open for final action are two Interlocal agreements needed for greater efficiencies between the City and the District; to wit: Interlocal Agreement for Phase II at De Hodrnle Park and the Master Interlocal Agreement between these two independent agencies (nearly two years in the negotiation process…what is going on with this???);
- Next joint meeting with the City and the District is scheduled for September 26th. All interested residents should be there for this. It is anticipated that the entire meeting will be devoted exclusively to the acquisition of the Ocean Breeze property;
- Executive Director Art Koski stated that the open questions regards the acquisition of Ocean Breeze, the bond request being made by the District of the City, and the expected future budgetary considerations for review of the golf course operations and cashflows will be prepared and presented by September 7th .
- Adjusted final 2017-2018 budget figures will be submitted for review at the August 30th District meeting scheduled for 5:30 P.M. in the district office with final budget proposal submitted by September 5th;
- Final votes to adopt or not the budget will take place in September. The first of these two is scheduled for September 7th.
On a preliminary basis, the District Commissioners did tentatively approve the Municipal Services element with the exception of the $900,000; the Vehicle budget with the exception of the $235,000; and delayed the preliminary vote on the IT element of the budget until the next scheduled budget meeting.
Finally, during the comment section, 5 residents spoke in support of The Gumbo Limbo park; one comment was made regarding the tentative deal for the Ocean Breeze acquisition and one comment regards the 2500 and 2600 N. Ocean Blvd. The last of these referenced the District’s empathic response to residents at their prior meeting, but, as of yet, recognized that the District has not announced its official position in favor or opposition to the City’s furtherance of these offensive projects; projects that substantially destroy Boca Raton’s pristine beach.
BocaWatch will continue to monitor these budgetary processes at both the District and City levels….Stay tuned….