BOCK SEEKING A THIRD TERM AS CLERK SEE STORY, PAGE 3 RPB APPROVES WAREHOUSE ORDINANCE SEE STORY, PAGE 4 THE TOWN - CR IER WELLINGTON • ROYAL PALM BEACH • LOXAHATCHEE • THE ACREAGE Your Community Newspaper INSIDE Wellington Council Sends Manure Rules Back To Committee Volume 33, Number 27 July 6 - July 12, 2012 GETTING INTO THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT The Wellington Village Council decided last week to get additional input from the Wellington Equestrian Preserve Committee regarding changes to how local farms manage horse manure and other livestock waste. Page 3 RPB Zoners Reserve Right To OK Signs For National Companies The Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission last week recommended denial of a request to grant village staff authority to approve signage for national logos. Page 7 Royal Palm Beach and Wellington held Fourth of July celebrations on Wednesday, offering residents a full day of activities. In RPB, the day included fishing and golf tournaments, kayak races, a kids funzone, rides, games and fireworks at Lakeside Challenger Park. Wellington’s celebration at Village Park featured games, inflatables, face painting and live music, before concluding with a fireworks display. (Above) Marc, Dylan and Kelly Negri at Wellington’s celebration. (Left) Andrea Wethern and Paula Beauchesne in RPB. Shoppers Find Deals At The Fairgrounds’ Summer Garage Sale The Summer Garage Sale was held Saturday, June 30 at the South Florida Fairgrounds. Vendors sold a variety of unique items, from antiques and collectibles to everyday household items. Page 13 Serving Palms West Since 1980 Wellington Council Could Reconsider PBIEC Master Plan By Lauren Miró Town-Crier Staff Report The Wellington Village Council will determine this month whether to revisit changes to the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center property approved last October by the former council. Current council members will hold a special public hearing at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 17 at the Wellington Municipal Complex to determine whether there was any misrepresentation during last year’s discussion of a master plan amendment for the Country Place PUD, of which the show grounds is a part. But the owners of the show grounds have branded the hearing a “witch hunt” that could hamper economic growth. The controversial amendment, approved last October, made several changes to the site, including the realignment of Equestrian Club Drive, the platting of Gene Mische Way and providing additional access points for Grand Prix Farms South, Gene Mische Way and from the planned Lake Worth Road extension through Peacock Pond. “The master plan needed to be amended because it still showed Equestrian Club Drive aligned as it was before,” Director of Growth Management Bob Basehart told the Town-Crier on Tuesday. “And Gene Mische Way was physically there, but it was not on the master plan.” A second item — a compatibility determination approved along with the master plan amendment — enabled the property to host the shows on a permanent basis, rather than by annual permit, Basehart said. The measure classified the site as a “commercial equestrian arena.” Wellington Mayor Bob Margolis said that concern over the approvals stemmed from a 2001 resolution suspending development on the site, leading some council members to question whether the changes should have been approved at all. Though he was not on the council last October, Margolis said that there is a concern over whether the suspension was revoked automatically when a new master plan was approved. “It depends on whom you talk to,” he explained. “Some believe that the suspension had to be revoked before [the council] could vote on a master plan. Staff’s position was that it was revoked by approving the master plan.” The hearing, referred to as a “5.1.15 hearing” after the provision in the code that permits it, will See HEARING, page 18 RPB ROTARY GALA PHOTOS BY DENISE FLEISCHMAN AND JESSICA GREGOIRE/TOWN-CRIER Summer Art Programs Available At Zolet Arts Academy In Wellington Zolet Arts Academy held one of its summer art programs for kids June 18-22. Another session is scheduled for Aug. 6-17. The program provides professional individualized instruction in a variety of media. Page 14 OPINION Take Care To Protect Your Pets From The Danger Of Hot Cars We’ve all seen it at some time or another, and it’s always heartbreaking — a pet left inside its owner’s hot vehicle. While it’s wrong to do any time of the year, now is the most dangerous time, when South Florida temperatures are at their highest. It shouldn’t even be a possibility, no matter for how long. So if you really love your pet, you will treat it like the living being that it is — not like a bag of groceries. Page 4 DEPARTMENT INDEX NEWS ............................. 3 - 14 OPINION .................................4 CRIME NEWS ......................... 6 NEWS BRIEFS........................ 8 SCHOOLS ............................ 15 PEOPLE ........................ 16 - 17 COLUMNS .................... 23 - 24 BUSINESS .................... 25 - 27 ENTERTAINMENT ................ 29 SCHOOLS SHOWCASE ... 30 - 31 SPORTS ........................ 35 - 37 CALENDAR ...................38 - 39 CLASSIFIEDS ................ 42 - 46 Visit Us On The Web At WWW.GOTOWNCRIER.COM RPB Unveils 2012-13 Budget By Ron Bukley Town-Crier Staff Report The Royal Palm Beach Village Council took its first look at a 201213 budget Thursday that would hold the tax rate unchanged at 1.92 mills while improving services for residents. At a tax rate of 1.92 mills, the owner of a home assessed at $150,000 after exemptions would pay $288 in village property taxes next year. The total budget, released this week, will drop from $43.3 million to $32.3 million, due primarily to the $13 million Commons Park project that will be finished this year. Other major factors influencing the bottom line include a $2 million increase in impact fees and the addition of $665,000 from the newly created stormwater utility fund intended primarily for canal maintenance assessed to residential and commercial property owners. Although another reduction in Royal Palm Beach’s total assessed property value is anticipated, it could be the smallest decrease since the recession began, Village Manager Ray Liggins wrote in his budget message. The current year’s gross taxable value for the village has fallen from $1.842 bil- lion to $1.815 billion, which is a reduction of only 1.4 percent, or about $27 million. “It would appear the negative slide of the revenue stream could be over and revenues may actually increase in future years,” Liggins wrote, noting that most other major income, such as state and tax-related revenues, are expected to have minimal increases. Building-related revenues are also expected to increase, which Liggins related to an increase in non-residential construction. While the number of development applications has decreased See BUDGET, page 18 Lox Council OKs $150,000 For Water Control District By Ron Bukley Town-Crier Staff Report The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council last week approved paying $150,000 to the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District to help finance road maintenance so the district can avoid an assessment increase this year. Councilman Jim Rockett dissented in the 3-1 vote June 26. Town Manager Mark Kutney said the request from the district was discussed at the Intergovernmental Coordination Committee meeting May 18. The town, which receives state gas tax revenue, has been granting the district between $130,000 and $150,000 annually to help pay for various road projects, including maintenance of non-district roads. “The district has been consistent in terms of asking for $150,000,” Kutney said. “However, we’re still in the process of debating and discussing [the amount] as we go forward.” Budget timelines put the council under time constraints for a decision. “There will be several meetings in July and August on the budget, and they may have to call for a second meeting. We’re going to have input from the attorneys and... talk about it a little more,” Kutney said, adding that there has been discussion of having the district doing edging and grading along town roads. The Intergovernmental Coordination Committee has two representatives each from the town and the district. This includes the district administrator and the town manager, along with a district supervisor and a town council member serving in a three-month rotation. Rockett, whose first committee meeting was the one on May 18, said he opposed continued subsidies to the district without closer scrutiny. “I don’t want to be in a situation where we’re always here for them to count on us,” he said. Rockett said they also talked about the possibility of the town agreeing in writing with the district to increase maintenance of non-district roads that are the town’s responsibility, and that LGWCD Administrator Clete SauSee LOX COUNCIL, page 18 The Royal Palm Beach Rotary Club held its annual installation dinner Frida y, June 29 at the MarBar Grille at the Madison Green Golf Club. Scott Armand was installed as the new club president, and awards were presented to outstanding Rotarians. Shown here are Joan Scherer and Michael Fehribach with Rotarian of the Year Selena Smith (center). MORE PHOTOS, PAGE 9 PHOTO BY DENISE FLEISCHMAN/TOWN-CRIER Property Crime Down, Crashes Up In Wellington By Lauren Miró Town-Crier Staff Report Property crime in Wellington is down, but vehicle collisions continue to be a problem, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office District 8 Capt. Jay Hart told the Wellington Village Council at its meeting Tuesday, June 26. In his report, Hart said that between October 2011 and March 2012, deputies had accomplished several goals, including monitoring juveniles on probation in Wellington, preventing property crime and keeping public spaces safe. But extra traffic on the roads during the first half of the year led to an increase in accidents, he said. “Our goal is to reach a crash rate of 2.2 crashes or less per 100 village residents,” Hart explained, noting that currently the rate is 2.5. Hart noted that last year, there was a similar spike during the first half of the fiscal year. “If you look at last year’s numbers at this time, we were also at 2.5,” he said. “We ended the year at 2.2. During January, February and March, we probably bring an See CRIME, page 4 Boca Businessman Challenges County Appraiser Nikolits By Lauren Miró Town-Crier Staff Report Longtime Palm Beach County Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits is up for re-election this year, facing a challenge from Boca Raton businessman Robert Weinroth. The Property Appraiser’s Office assesses property values, using state law and complex codes to place a value on each property, which then determines a property owner’s property taxes owed to the government. With Palm Springs resident Charles Stahman also on the ballot, the nonpartisan race for the four-year term will be held during the Aug. 14 primary election. If one candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, he will win the election outright. If no candidate passes that threshold, the top two vote-getters will advance to the November election. Nikolits said that voters should recognize his experience and dedication to the position when making their choice next month. “I’m finishing my 20th year here,” he said. “But I’ve worked in this office for almost 33 years now. I understand what it takes to do this job.” Nikolits, 62, was first elected to the office in 1992. A former realestate appraiser, he spent almost 20 years in the tax-assessment field prior to his election, including 12 years working for the Property Appraiser’s Office. “This has been a perfect fit for me,” he said. “It allows me to use the skills I have developed and serve the public.” Prior to his election, Nikolits also served on the Riviera Beach City Council for eight years. Nikolits is a Certified Florida Appraiser and is past president of the Florida Association of Property Appraisers. He is a member of the International Association of Assessing Officers. Nikolits said that his top accomplishment in office has been being consistent and fair in his appraisals. “I have produced a fair and equitable tax roll for the last 20 years,” he said. “I have a team of highly qualified appraisers, and we have worked hard to do that.” He said that if he is re-elected, See APPRAISER, page 18 Incumbent Palm Beach County Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits (left) and challenger Robert Weinroth (right).