Voter’s Have Spoken

The voters have spoken and overwhelming reelected Commissioner Sylvia Moffett to another term as District 1 representative with 59% of the vote. The voters have shown their faith in her and the job she has done, and will continue to do. WPB Watch congratulates Commissioner Moffett for a job well done.

A disappointment for me is the 68% of voters who voted to grant property tax exemption to new businesses and the expansions of existing ones.


The city played the “job” card, and voters bought it. With signs going up throughout the city with the last line reading:
“Paid Political Advertisement Paid for by Jobs for WPB, 401 N. Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach, Fl 33401″  Click on the sign to enlarge.

Now let’s take a walk down memory lane. A complaint was filed with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) when the city paid, through the City Attorney’s office, (McKenna) for the following items:
$904.00 for 200 t-shirts.
$105.75 for 500 2” labels (stickers)
$2,500.00 for 4 charter buses, a total of $3,509.75.

The city spent tax payers dollars to transport residents, while wearing t-shirts and stickers (opposing the extension) too attend a March 21,2012 Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) public hearing regarding the proposed extension of State Road 7.
Three buses were assigned to take residents from the western communities, all gated, while one was to take passengers from down town. City employees wearing their t-shirts were bused to the hearing. The OIG found the complaint to be legitimate and a letter was sent to Mayor Muoio. The last paragraph read.

“No response to this letter is required, as it only serves to notify you of the complaint and our subsequent review of the expenditures as they relate to the Attorney General’s opinion that such decisions be made by the legislative and governing body involved.”  No sanctions, just a reminder to the city.

Lets return to the sign mentioned above where I list the 401 N. Flagler Dr. address.

According to the PBC Property Appraisers Office, the owners are:
West Palm Beach City of Lessor
PBC & Chamber of Comm Lessees.
Mailing Address:
PO Box 3366
5TH FLR Finance Dept.
West Palm Beach Fl 33402 3366
It is my opinion the city paid tax payer dollars to have the signs made. The city is the “Paid for by Jobs for WPB” The finance dept. at city hall is located on the 5th. floor where the bill will be sent for the signs.

Here is an example of three hotels in WPB listing their Market Value and taxes paid. These hotels will continue to pay property taxes, I only offer them as an example of what will be lost in property taxes.

Marriott 1001 Okeechobee Blvd.
Market Value: $27,131,123.00
2015 taxes paid: $636,664.00.

Hyatt 295 Lakeview Ave.
Market Value: $17,630,880.00
2015 taxes paid: $441,222.00

Double Tree 1808 S. Australian Ave.
Market Value: 12,293,726.00
2015 taxes paid: $306,317.00

These three hotel’s pay almost 1.4 million dollars in taxes.

The Sun Sentinel reports the newest 400 room Hilton hotel, roughly $110 million dollars, built next to the Convention Center, and scheduled to open early this year. Read the story below.

Hilton West Palm Beach marks construction milestone – Sun Sentinel

Another  hotel to be built on the “old” city hall site will not be paying property taxes.

They are “new” businesses and will bring jobs to WPB.

The hotel’ will hire: administration, maids, waiter/waitresses, housekeepers, bellhops,valet. With the exception of administrators, most will be minimum paying jobs, which will insure more profit for the businesses. What they save in property tax will support paying for the new jobs. Profit, profit, profit. Please don’t concern yourself with the loss of property taxes, as you will see your property taxes raised to make up the difference.

I am attempting to open a new business called Sandy’s Dog Walking, and will hire a retired friend to help me and hopefully I wont have to pay property taxes in 2017. Think it will fly?

City Officials At It Again

Suggestion: Have your last WPB City Water bill handy when reading this post.

2004 The City of WPB Water Bills took on a new look and the CCF (Cubic Feet) was not listed on your water bill. Along with the new look came improvement. The city added the information that 1 CCF= 748 Gal. of water

While shopping in Race Track (45th. St.) I occasionally run into city workers, who recognize me from city hall, and are more than willing to speak with me. One conversation I had, I was told billing differed depending whether you lived east or west of 95. I can’t confirm his information and will include my last water bill received for 2015 so a comparison can be made by you and will bring to your attention “Day’s of Service” I live west of 95.

SDC10001 (2)

Once again the city changed the appearance of the water bill, eliminating the number of gallons per 1CCF (748) but left the No. of CCF’s used for billing purposes.

The city recently changed the water meters to more efficient units, and if a homeowner had the smallest leak these new meters would note it and charge accordingly.
Homeowners checked to insure their plumbing had no leaks, and if they found any they would be repaired. Smart move, water, along with money should not be wasted. So ended the monthly city worker who walked the neighborhood’s and input information into a hand held computer. The next time I met a reader he explained as he sat in his truck and aimed the new device at the newly installed meter’s (which in my neighborhood is located on the sidewalk) and information was automatically installed on the computer. He stated the new system was much faster and more accurate. He could read a dozen meters without moving his car. Just aim and shoot.

If you pay attention to your water bill–good for you–for those who don’t, and automatically pay your bill, this section is written for you with the hope I explain information so it is understood.

The first home my parents built (1955) came complete with a septic tank. My dad worried for years the tank would overflow, and he was the first to teach us water conservation. Every trip to the shower and brushing of teeth came with the reminder septic tank, septic tank, septic tank. We were taught not to waste water, not because of the cost of water, but because of the damn septic tank possibly overflowing. It never did, but lesson learned.

Years later I still conserve as much water as possible, not because of a septic tank but due to high cost of water in WPB.

If you check your water bill I would bring to your attention your monthly usage and “Day’s of Service” I use my bill as an example, and please keep in mind that 748 gallons of water=1CCF.

I went back to 2012 on my water bills and found the following.
2012 One month I used 2 CCF, 11 months 1CCF.
2013 Two month’s I used 2 CCF, 10 month’s 1 CCF.
2014 Two month’s I used 2 CCF, 10 month’s 1 CCF.
2015 Five month’s I used 2 CCF, 7 month’s 1 CCF. (Something wrong here)

With no change to my routine, and constantly looking for leaks, and finding none, I questioned my water usage, and my rate increase. Here is what I discovered.

If I vacationed in Mongolia for a month my bill would reflect O CCF used and my bill would reflect the minimum billing of l CCF

When I returned and actually used 500 gallons of water I would pay for lCCF. (748 Gal.)
OK so far so good. So why has my bill reflected 2 CCF for 5 months in 2015? What I found is a difference in “Day’s of Service.”  My bill rose when the city read my meter, not in 30 or 31 day’s but 33 to 36 day’s. The new meter’s may be more reliable and accurate and if that’s the case, the city needs to hire more meter readers with more hand held computers. If my meter reads 1 gal. over 748 after 33 days my bill goes up. The following month I will use less but still pay for 748 Gal. A win-win for the city, while residents receive the shaft. Here is what my bill for February 2016 read.

Service From 1-26-16

Service To 2-24-16

Days of Service:  30

Previous Read:   78

Current Read:    78

Total Use:       O CCF

Here is the difference in water bills:

Residential Water:

l CCF                                          2 CCF

Usage: $2.42                             $4.84     Doubles

Utility Tax $2.33                      $ 2.58     ^.25

Residential Wastewater:

Usage:  $3.47                            $6.94      Doubles

The figures above represent the difference between 1 & 2 CCF If you have 3 or more kids and use 4 or 5 CCF you have my sincere condolences.

I was not on vacation in Mongolia, did use water, and when I questioned Assistant City Administrator, Scott Kelly. (Mr Kelly is the go to guy for water concerns) and asked why my water meter wasn’t read he responded with “I don’t know” I may have used 500 gal. and paid the maximum bill but my next bill will reflect 2 CCF used for a higher water bill. I will pay more money, for using less water, and I’m not alone.

Another slap in the face from elected officials.

Feb. 29,016 City Commission meeting held, and I attended.

Item # 16 reads: “Public Hearing of Resolution No. 51-16 providing notice of the City’s intent to collect non-ad valorem assessments levied for sanitation services through the property tax bills, if the Commission approves such assessment in 2016”

Before each meeting I go online and read the agenda item’s, and was upset when I read #16. I pulled my last water bill to check my monthly bill for “Residential Sanitation” and found “Garbage & Trash” has not has not changed from 2001 and remains at $16.00/month. Recycling in 2001 was $1.40 and 2016 is $2.85. I complained to the Mayor & Commissioners telling them I paid $192.00/year for Garbage & Trash and $34.20/year for Recycling for a total of $226.20/year, and now they want to charge more via non-ad valorem. The Mayor explained the charge for Residential Sanitation would be removed from our monthly bill. I was OK with that until 3 day’s later when it dawned on me the city wouldn’t charge me $226.20 on my tax bill and could set the rate much higher, and they will. Residents living on Social Security would find it easier to pay a total of $18.85/month instead of hundreds added to their tax bills. I know I would.

“Utility Assistant Program”
The city offer’s a $10.00 monthly credit on your bill if you are low or fixed income.
Check it out and see if you apply. I also believe if the city moves Residential Sanitation to your tax bill this credit will disappear due to receiving a lower monthly bill.

Remember 2008 when the City approved a “WPB Fire Protection” resolution and you were presented with a $25.00 charge on your tax bill under non-ad valorem? In 2014 the city wanted it raised to $100.00 and when residents were up in arms we were told other cities were receiving $100.00. What the city didn’t bother to mention was the fact that most cities in Palm Beach County were not involved in the practice. It is my opinion the city realized their mistake and wished they had fixed the amount at $100.00 to begin with. They will not make the same mistake with the sanitation and will go high immediately. Better to ask forgiveness, than permission.

Recently City Commission were voting to add tax dollars to a new fire station under construction after City Manager Jeff Green told Commissioners the building was over budget and more dollars were needed. Construction under way consisted of poured flooring, four walls and a roof. This cost taxpayers $1,000,000.00 dollars for a shell of a building.

Here’s what you may not be aware of. The city charges residents $2.85 to pick up our recyclables, dumps it at Solid Waste, free of charge. Solid Waste then sell’s all material, and the City of WPB receives a percentage of the sales. To add insult to injury, on your tax bill under non-ad valorem assessment “Solid Waste Authority of PBC” (Palm Beach County) assessed me on my 2015 taxes $170.00, which they may very well use to pay WPB it’s share of percentage made from recycling.  Good deal for the city and they never tell residents how much of a percentage they are making on the deal.  Please pay attention now, or be surprised next November when you receive your tax bill.

Your Invited 3/15/2016

The City of West Palm Beach will hold its General Election on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, for the purpose of voters approval of a referendum question and to elect a City Commissioner to District 1.

Commissioners Ryan, District 3 and Commissioner Materio, District 5 are unopposed so they will have another term.

Commissioner Moffett has two challengers who have qualified, so voters will have a choice this year and I ask you to vote wisely after knowing Commissioner Moffett’s voting record on two very important issues city residents recently faced.

1- The city, under the direction of former Commissioner Mitchell, and the support of Commissioner Materio, attempted to form a City of West Palm Beach Charter School. Now would be the time to remind voters how many Charter Schools have failed in Palm Beach County after receiving funding that was transferred from public schools. “No Child Left Behind” left many children behind when money couldn’t be found for text books, a shortage of teachers or decent wages for them.
Commissioner Moffett was the first to speak out publicly against the school, and continued to speak out until Commissioner James and retired Commissioner Robinson were on board and those three votes were enough to stop another plan to plunder the public school system.

You may recall the Digital Domain (another school) fiasco when the city voted to award John Textor the deed to a piece of property valued at 10 million dollars along with 2 million dollars cash that has not, and will not be recovered. The land was recovered after a court battle costing more thousands of dollars courtesy of the taxpayer.

2- Another item discussed on the dais was once again led by former Commissioner Mitchell, and again supported by Commissioner Materio, and that was to outsource the city’s water supply. This was hotly contested and tempers flared to the point that Commissioner Materio left the dais, not to return for the remainder of the meeting.
Commissioner Moffett, was outspoken from the beginning concerning this ridiculously bad idea and once again with the help of Commissioners James and Robinson the proposal was defeated. Can you even begin to surmise the cost of your water bill if this was allowed to proceed?

These two very important issues are enough to remind me who’s side of the issue Commissioner Moffett was on, and in my opinion she deserves another term, which is why she has earned my trust along with my vote.

The following referendum question will appear on the ballot:

“Shall the City Commission of the City of West Palm Beach, Florida be authorized to grant, pursuant to s.3, Art. VII of the State Constitution, property tax exemptions to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses that are expected to create new, full-time jobs in the city?”
Yes- For authority to grant exemptions.
No- Against authority to grant exemptions

The City of WPB is extremely business and developer friendly. It appears to me developers request are more often than not granted. I offer one example.

CMSJR Development appeared before the commission with a request to build rental apartments on Skees Road, off Okeechobee Blvd; one mile from the turnpike.
Residents from High Sierra, a development consisting of 32 homes appeared before the commission and simply requested the project be scaled back, and allow responsible development.

CMSJR previously built rental apartments in Lake Worth named Casa Brera and here is the comparison between the two projects with similar land size.

Casa Brera: 92 rental units on 12.2 acres or 7.7 units per acre.
Skees Rd. 245 rental units on 12.29 acres or 20 units per acre.

The project will move forward and could possibly bring an additional 500 cars daily to the Okeechobee corridor as the city continues to fight the State Rd. 7 extension.

On top of the gift mentioned above, the city now want to grant developers property tax exemptions.

Question: If the voters allow this to pass, who do they think will make up the shortage of tax dollars the developers will be saving?

Answer: The homeowner’s of course.

I had a discussion with a friend who told me it wasn’t a concern of her’s because she rents.

Well, duh, when the owner of her apartment receives his tax bill and pay’s his share plus the developers share and raises her rent, then it will concern her.

This she understood which is why she told me she will vote No to grant property exemptions to developers. Were on the same page here, hopefully you are too.