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SOUTHERN & B ROAD PROJECTS GET OK SEE STORY, PAGE 7 SUMMER FUN AT CASPEREY STABLES SEE PHOTOS, PAGE 11 THE TOWN - CR IER WELLINGTON • ROYAL PALM BEACH • LOXAHATCHEE • THE ACREAGE Your Community Newspaper INSIDE Sem Ridge Speed Zone Coming Soon Volume 32, Number 27 July 8 - July 14, 2011 A STAR-SPANGLED SPECTACULAR Speed zones and flashing safety lights to be installed on Seminole Pratt Whitney Road near Seminole Ridge High School may be the leading edge of a trend at other county high schools. Page 3 Wellington Hosts Holiday Celebration Wellington celebrated the Fourth of July on Monday with its annual Family Fourth Celebration at Village Park on Pierson Road. The event included field games, inflatable rides, food, music, paint-less paint ball and fireworks to end of the day. Families lined the grass with blankets and watched the fireworks, while they played games and listened to the music. Page 5 RPB Seniors Celebrate An Early Fourth Of July At The Cultural Center The Royal Palm Beach Senior Activities Club held an Independence Day party Friday, July 1 at the Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center. The room was decorated in red, white and blue for the Fourth of July holiday. Food was served, and musician Rick Nelson played a variety of popular oldies tunes. Page 8 OPINION Belt Tightening Is Good, But Not At The Expense Of Essential Services With property values continuing to decline, local governments are faced with the increasingly difficult task of balancing their budgets. That means another year of belt tightening. We encourage our municipal and county governments to cut as much as possible — but not at the expense of our quality of life. Dismantling everything that has been built for what will amount to minuscule tax savings is not good public policy. Page 4 DEPARTMENT INDEX NEWS ............................. 3 - 12 OPINION ................................ 4 CRIME NEWS ........................ 6 NEWS BRIEFS .....................10 SCHOOLS .............................13 PEOPLE........................ 14 - 15 COLUMNS .................... 21 - 22 ENTERTAINMENT ................ 27 BUSINESS ...................29 - 31 SPORTS .......................35 - 38 CALENDAR...................40 - 41 CLASSIFIEDS ...............42 - 47 Visit Us On The Web At WWW.GOTOWNCRIER.COM Royal Palm Beach hosted its annual Star-Spangled Spectacular Independence Day celebration Monday, July 4 at Lakeside Challenger Park. There were kids arts & crafts, food vendors, a waterslide and bounce house, the Mayor’s Cup kayak race, and a fireworks display to conclude the evening. Shown above, Jessie Mohl, Shay Stevens and Shannon O'Neil enjoy a treat at the Royal Palm Beach Softball table. MORE PHOTOS, PAGE 9 Serving Palms West Since 1980 Tax Rate Steady In RPB Spending Plan By Ron Bukley Town-Crier Staff Report The Village of Royal Palm Beach will spend $43.2 million next fiscal year, according to a proposed budget under review by the Royal Palm Beach Village Council. The budget is down from the $52.3 million budget approved for the current fiscal year, largely due to a $10 million drop in capital improvements. The general operating budget is proposed to be $21.7 million, up slightly from $21.1 million in the current year. Released last week, the 201112 budget had its first review by the council this Thursday. Royal Palm Beach has managed to lower its tax rate each year for the past 16 years. If the proposed budget passes, that streak will end. Village Manager Ray Liggins has proposed a budget that keeps the tax rate unchanged at 1.92 mills — despite a 3-percent reduction in the village’s property values. The rate means that a property owner will pay $1.92 for each $1,000 of assessed value. A home assessed at $150,000 after exemptions would pay $288 in local property taxes to Royal Palm Beach. Since the tax rate is staying the same, but property values have fallen, Royal Palm Beach will take in less property tax money next year. As anticipated, a continued reduction in property values and only minimal increases in other revenues continue to affect the village’s budget for the coming See RPB BUDGET, page 7 PATRIOTIC POOL PARTY PHOTO BY DENISE FLEISCHMAN/TOWN-CRIER Rules For Recreational Vehicles Divide Wellington Zoning Board By Lauren Miró Town-Crier Staff Report The Wellington Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board was divided Wednesday over two proposals to allow recreational vehicles in the Equestrian Preserve Area. Although recreational vehicles are not currently allowed in the preserve, Wellington staff recommended an ordinance that would allow personal RVs on certain properties with 5 or more acres and allow RV parks on larger parcels. In the end, the board rejected allowing RVs on residential properties, but narrowly approved allowing RV parks. The final decision will be up to the Wellington Village Council. Though the proposals were presented as one item, the board heard and discussed the issues separately. Planning & Zoning Manager David Flinchum explained that the proposal would allow one recreational vehicle for temporary use on properties of more than 5 acres located west of 120th Ave. and south of Lake Worth Road, as well as parts of the Palm Beach Point community. “The parcels in that area average 8 acres,” Flinchum said. “And as a requirement, it must be a de- veloped piece of property. There must be a residence or barn there.” Property owners could apply for a special use permit to have certain recreational vehicles on the property between Nov. 1 and April 30, when the equestrian season is underway. Approved vehicles include motor homes, motor coaches, travel trailers and fifth-wheel trailers, Flinchum said. Other restrictions include compliance with setbacks, screening of the vehicle and providing electric, water and sanitary services for the vehicle. When the issue was sent to the Equestrian Preserve Committee, members also wanted to see the recreational vehicle limited to two occupants, as well as require consent from any homeowners’ association. PZA Board Vice Chair Craig Bachove asked whether the size of the vehicle would determine how many people were allowed in the vehicle. Flinchum noted that staff recommended four people, as often the vehicles are built to be large enough for at least that many. “I’ve not seen one with room for less than four in the types of vehicles we’re talking about,” he said. “We’re not talking about campers or pull-behinds.” Bachove asked how HOA approval would work, and Flinchum said that a letter would be acceptable. “We want something that says that the property owner has done their homework,” he said. “Otherwise, it could cause a civil conflict.” PZA Board Member Bob Margolis was concerned about Wellington’s ability to enforce the conditions and standards if code enforcement officers aren’t allowed on properties. “We could have an RV on 5 acres with the required setbacks,” he said, “and there could be 10 people living there and we wouldn’t know about it.” Margolis noted that according to the minutes of the Equestrian Preserve Committee, code enforcement officers cited 28 cases of illegal recreational vehicles and said it was difficult to enforce. Flinchum said that the ordinance allowed for the special use permits to be revoked if a property owner is found in violation. PZA Board Member Mike Drahos also was concerned about enforcement, especially on limiting the time of year someone can have an RV on the property. “It sounds like we’re relying on the honesty of the applicant,” he See RV RULES, page 16 Groves Council Keeps Tax Rate Unchanged For Upcoming Year By Ron Bukley Town-Crier Staff Report The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council approved a resolution Tuesday setting its tax rate for fiscal year 2011-12 at 1.4 mills, the same rate as the current year. Town Manager Frank Spence said the council could approve a lower tax rate later, but could not raise it. Spence said he had presented a preliminary budget to the Financial Advisory & Audit Committee, which unanimously voted to keep the millage the same. Falling property values in the town means that keeping the tax rate unchanged will mean less property tax revenue will come in next year. The 1.4-mill tax rate would mean that a Loxahatchee Groves resident whose property is assessed at $175,000 after exemptions would pay $245 in town property taxes next year. The council will hold workshops on the budget in August and two public hearings in September. Although he had seen the preliminary budget at the committee meeting, Councilman Jim Rockett questioned the council’s adopting a millage rate without having been formally presented with a budget. Spence said he still had not seen final revenue reports from the state, which should come this month. Under the Truth in Millage Act, the tax rate must be adopted this month so the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office could include it in letters to property owners, he said. Councilman Tom Goltzené said he also wished he could have reviewed the budget before adopting a rate, but Councilman Ron Jarriel said he was ready to adopt the rate, “since the finance committee approved it unanimously.” Rockett made a motion to adopt the tax rate of 1.4 mills, which carried unanimously. The council also approved a resolution providing for the solid waste collection fee at $373.73 per See LOX COUNCIL, page 3 As part of Wellington’s Fourth of July celebration, the village hosted a pool par ty Monday at the Aquatics Com plex. Pool patrons had fun while beating the heat as they cooled off with a swim in the pool or a trip down the waterslide. Shown above, Angelica and Gaby Schmidt, Maria and Isis Chesko, and Eliud Campos take a break from swimming. MORE PHOTOS, PAGE 12 PHOTO BY JESSICA GREGOIRE /TOWN-CRIER Wellington Preparing $73.9 Million Budget By Lauren Miró Town-Crier Staff Report Wellington is poised to hold the line on its tax rate next year despite falling property tax revenue. At its meeting Tuesday, July 12, the Wellington Village Council will set its truth in millage (TRIM) rate, which staff has recommended to hold at 2.5 mills for the third year in a row, according to Deputy Village Manager John Bonde. That tax rate would mean that a Wellington resident whose property is assessed at $175,000 after exemptions would pay $437.50 in village property taxes next year. “Each year we’re required to adopt a TRIM rate,” he said. “That is the maximum rate. We can always reduce it later during budget meetings in August and September.” Wellington staff is proposing a budget of $73.9 million, which is down about $1.8 million from last year’s $75.7 million approved budget. But Bonde said that the shortfall had been expected to be worse. Wellington got a break last month when the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s preliminary figures came back higher than expected. “The valuations could have been worse,” Bonde said. “The appraisals didn’t come in as bad as we thought they would. We were expecting about a 5 percent decrease, but it was only a fraction of a percent.” Though holding the tax rate at 2.5 mills means less tax revenue than last year, Bonde said that Wellington staff has been able to balance the budget without sacrificing levels of service. “Holding the line on the millage is going to be a big impact to a lot of people,” he said. “The rollback rate to keep the same revenue was higher, but we were willing to hold it at 2.5 mills even though it was tough.” But it does mean that Wellington will have to trim its budget once again. “This is the fourth year in a row we’ve had to make substantial cuts,” Bonde said. Wellington will be eliminating five governmental positions but adding one in the utilities department, Bonde said. “It means fewer positions, but not necessarily fewer people,” Bonde said, noting that it didn’t necessarily mean layoffs. “It may See WELLINGTON, page 16 New Playground Equipment Coming To Kidscape Park An artist’s rendition of the Moms Club’s first choice for the Kidscape Park playground for ages 5 through 12. By Ron Bukley Town-Crier Staff Report The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors will consider approval of new playground equipment for Kidscape Park at its meeting July 13. The decision will come after months of gathering input from residents, including members of the Acreage/Loxahatchee Moms Club. Money for the project was approved in the budget for the current fiscal year. “The board approved $170,000 for the new Kidscape Park playground equipment,” District Ad- ministrator Tanya Quickel told the Town-Crier on Tuesday. Residents and Moms Club members met with ITID staff to discuss the playground equipment design options. Quickel said there are two designs for each age group, ages 2 through 5 and ages 6 through 12. “Indian Trail actually worked with the Moms Club and let them pick out and make recommendations about the design for the two age groups,” Quickel said. “The Moms Club went through more than 20 different design options in May and narrowed it down to these two different design options for us. The board will be deciding their preference between the two different designs.” Moms Club President Leanne Reid said she was glad the ITID board sought her organization’s input on the park. “The board has been working on this for a really long time, so they contacted us, and we arranged a meeting with the district administrator and the parks director,” Reid told the Town-Crier on Wednesday. “We sat down and went over the different specs and narrowed it down to what the Moms Club thinks will be approSee KIDSCAPE, page 7


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