Barring any surprises or election run-offs, I will now serve as your Vice-Mayor for two more regular session meetings and then one final meeting to certify the election with a new Commission.
Several people have asked if I plan to continue writing the meeting minutes after my term ends. At this point I plan on continuing to cover Lake Park Commission issues, but don’t promise that I will be watching every meeting as I have a couple of projects that I look forward to devoting large blocks of my time to.
It will be fun to cover the meetings from off-dias as I will be free to comment on things that I would not while in office.
Now, enough about me, let’s get to the business at hand.
The February 6, 2013 meeting was called to order by Mayor James Dubois, all Commissioners were present.
After minor additions and one deletion, the agenda was approved.
The Bridges of Lake Park gave an emotional presentation on the Healthy Beginnings System as provided by their organization. While parts of the presentation were difficult to hear and see, the topic is important and I commend Bridges for bringing this forward.
The full commission approved the meeting minutes of January 16th; 5 – 0.
Ordinance NO. 01-2013 a text amendment to reflect changes in the Florida statute was discussed on second read. The statute deals with notice requirements of Code Enforcement issues and what is required by the State.
After an extensive conversation, the item was approved 5 -0 after being amended.
The next three items dealt with Scrub Land located in the town and owned by Palm Beach County and Lake Park. In totality the three ordinances changed the zoning on the property, created a conservation district and placed the scrub area into this conservation district.
Commissioner Longtin and I both expressed our concerns that the county has done nothing with this land after many years of plans have sat at the county level with no action.
While we agreed that the county has led this along for far too long with no action, I feel it is important to create the district and encourage the county to move forward.
Commissioner Longtin’s request was to hold off on final zoning until after the county has committed to action on the property.
The three ordinances were passed with the land placed into a conservation district. Respectively the items were passed 5 – 0, 5 -0 and 4 -1 with Commissioner Longtin voting against the final element.
The Commission then moved into a time of Discussion and Possible Action.
One item was removed from this section of the agenda, an item to authorize the Mayor to execute an engagement letter with Bryant Miller Olive, PA as Bond Counsel for refunding of two outstanding debts of the Town of Lake Park. I do not know why this item was removed from the agenda and no explanation was provided by the Town Manager, the request was made and approved.
Three items were added tot he discussion section of the agenda. Mr. Hockman added a discussion on the Pirate Fest and Commissioner Longtin added a discussion on Voting Rights and the contract for our Town Attorney.
The fist item discussed was Mr. Hockman’s. For several minutes Mr. Hockman expressed his concerns that the producers of the event were upset and felt as though they were not supported by the Town. While he discussed having concerns for several minutes, the only item Mr. Hockman ever actually offered as a dissatisfaction was the Town’s enforcement of parking meters.
What the commissioner did not mention was we have had numerous requests by producers to waive parking fees, for the most part we have always agreed to the fee waiver.
What the commissioner also did not mention was he could have brought the request forward to the body as a whole and requested the waiver on behalf of the event, he did not make the request.
As a matter of fact, I cannot think of one instance when a commissioner asked for fee to be waived that it was not.
It has been common practice that we as a commission have done this when requested by our fellow elected officials.
While Commissioner Hockman’s campaign speech was a nice touch, the truth is if the producers, or the Commissioner, would have made the request it more than likely would have been granted.
I understand the producer not knowing to make the request and hopefully the next commission will waive the fees; however Mr. Hockman did know the practice as he has been one to make the request on previous occasions.
In past weeks the Commission has been discussing CDBG funds that the Town is applying for. At last night’s meeting we came up with our top 5 priorities the funds would be used for. Those items in order of preference, and with the name of the commissioner supporting are shown below …
Repairs at Tennis Center
Dubois, Hockman, Longtin, Stevens
Afterschool Program at Library
Dubois, Rumsey, Stevens
Electronic Marquee at Town Hall
Rumsey, Hockman, Longtin
Create a Dog Park
Demo Wall and add Lights at Marina
The commission voted unanimously and retroactively to approve an expenditure for the purchase of a C500W Encoder.
The annual parking meter maintenance contract was approved 3 – 2 with Commissioners Longtin and Hockman voting against. The contract has been in effect since Jan 1.
Commissioner Longtin requested the commission’s support of a draft resolution opposing unfunded state mandates. The item was supported unanimously.
The final two discussion items were at the request of Commissioner Longtin added to the agenda. Commissioner Longtin requested a conversation be held in April regarding the possibility of the Town’s voting system being returned to the format used prior to the 2009 Justice Department report. This was supported by all commissioners.
Finally, Commissioner Longtin brought forward her desire to evaluate the Town Attorney’s contract. After discussion on the topic Commissioner Longtin made a motion to move into a 60 day notice of termination. With no second by a fellow commissioner, the motion died.
After further discussion I questioned Mr. Baird on several aspects of his work with the Town. Tom Baird has been the Town’s attorney for 10 years, during that time period he has worked with 5 Town Managers, 4 Finance Directors, 5 Public Works Directors, 3 Community Development Directors and 3 Town Clerks…… read that list again…in just over 10 years, our Town has had the following…..5 Town Managers, 4 Finance Directors, 5 Public Works Directors, 3 Community Development Directors and 3 Town Clerks.
I am not impressed by this record…. honestly I am disgusted by it.
Mr. Baird has been one consistent cog in the Town’s wheel for over a decade. Mr. Baird has not had a raise since 2007 and he has provided consistent work for the Town in areas of turmoil and success.
With this said, I find the idea of termination for our attorney to be detrimental to the Town’s future. I motioned to extend the Attorney contract by three years. With a second to the motion, Mayor Dubois asked the attorney if her were amenable to a reduction in fees if he were given a three-year contract. A reduction was negotiated and the contract extension was approved 3 – 2 with Commissioners Longtin and Hockman voting against the extension.
After final comments, the meeting was adjourned.