Published On: Thu, Jan 9th, 2020

From the Desk of Your Palm Beach County Commissioner

By: Robert S Weinroth

ANNUAL RECAP

As we usher in 2020, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the many positive things happening in Palm Beach County.

Veteran’s Day Ceremonies at Veterans Park with Rep. Tina Polsky and members of the VFW.

Did you know that Palm Beach County boasts the third largest population in the state with over 1.4 million residents? More than 20,000 new residents are calling our county home every year. Property values and home sales are up, and unemployment is down.

The national unemployment rate remains at a 50-year low, and the news in Palm Beach County is equally positive with unemployment now at 3.7 percent (down from the same time last year’s already low 3.8 percent).

Gleaning fruit from trees for CROS Ministries

The good news for job seekers is there are more job openings countywide than candidates to fill them! The bad news for companies is there are more job openings countywide than candidates to fill them. This is an unprecedented period of opportunity for the un- and under-employed to secure employment.

Tourism remains one of our county’s most important industries with an economic impact of $7.5 billion; creating 94,000 jobs and generating over $54 million in bed-tax revenue. Visitors are booking hotel rooms at record levels. Additionally, agriculture, biotechnology and transportation continue to drive our economic engine.

US Senator Rick Scott joined Jewish Leaders to hear the issues of concern to the Jewish community

Over the past 12 months, 34 companies have relocated or expanded in Palm Beach County creating over 2,700 new jobs while occupying over a million square feet of office/commercial space generating over $12 million in capital investment.

Wages in Palm Beach County continued to grow at a rate of 3.1 percent, eclipsing the national wage growth of 2.8 percent. Our county ranks fourth in the state in per capita income at $74,754 compared to the statewide average of $47,600.

In District 4, Boca Raton remains one of our county’s top growth areas receiving over $642,000 in incentives from the county for corporate expansions (creating over 1,000 jobs with salaries ranging from $50,000 to $75,000). These businesses include ORBCOMM, MobileHelp and Modernizing Medicine.  They have also received state and city incentives totaling over $5 million.

PBC Fire Rescue celebrates the new Chief, Reginald Duren

I am pleased to report the BCC maintained the current tax rate (millage) which has not increased in nine years. Saving you money while providing superior services remains a priority for us.

Working on the county’s $5.2 billion budget is a considerable responsibility. This significant budget reflects the enormity of the county’s operations that include solid waste disposal, public transportation, operation of three airports (including PBIA), water treatment plants, 3,500 miles of roads, 214 bridges, 8,000 acres of parks and much more.

PBC Sheriff’s Office displays its latest technology to help keep our citizens safe.

Keeping our roads and bridges in good repair and filling potholes are also top priorities. The county successfully completed major repairs on the Camino Real Bridge this past year (after several bumps in the road). Among the hundreds of road miles resurfaced in 2019 included Jog Road, Clint Moore Road, Palmetto Circle and Powerline Road.  Expect to see road crews in South County throughout 2020 working on Old Dixie Highway and Yamato Road, thanks to the voter-approved sales surtax.

Hurricane Dorian Press Conference from the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center

No annual recap would be complete without mentioning Hurricane Dorian. With a Category 5 storm taking aim at us, we were extremely lucky for the last minute change in its path, and a major disruption in our lives was avoided. However, be confident the county was ready!

The Emergency Operations Center was fully activated, and your county commissioners worked with emergency officials as we collaborated with local, state and federal agencies to disseminate critical information to our residents in a timely fashion.

Everyone should be extremely proud of the outpouring of support for our neighbors in the Bahamas who sustained catastrophic damage with a direct hit. The outpouring of resources countywide was incredible and kudos to all who responded. While we dodged a bullet as the storm path shifted north, I cannot stress enough the importance of preparedness and urge everyone to take future storms very seriously!  It can make the difference between life and death.

ANNUAL RECAP

The County faces some significant challenges, such as homelessness and the lack of adequate affordable workforce housing.

In June, the Board authorized a project to establish a second county homeless resource center. It will be built on a five-acre parcel on Lake Worth Road next door to the Mid-County Senior Center. This center will supplement the services offered at the Senator Philip D. Lewis Resource Center in West Palm Beach.  

Since opening in 2012, the Lewis Center has provided guidance and needed support services to over 17,000 individuals and families, sheltering approximately 6,000 people, and placing more than 2,100 clients into permanent housing.

The new homeless resource center will be a 74-bed, 19,000-square-foot facility and include a sheriff’s substation. The projected cost of the center is $8 million, and $7 million will come from the one-cent infrastructure surtax and $1 million from ad valorem tax revenue.

Meeting the housing needs of our workforce remains a county priority. In September, the median sale price of a single-family home in the county was $355,000 (up 3 percent from the year before). The median sales price of a townhouse or condo was $188,500, (up nearly 8 percent from the year before). The median rental rate for the county is approximately $2,100 per month.

The following is an overview of the county’s workforce housing initiatives:

  • 1,418 affordable units have been set aside in 61 residential projects (approximately 12 percent of the total number of 12,290 units approved).
  • Developers have paid $7.7 million, in lieu of required set-asides at 20 residential projects.
  • Nearly 78 percent of builders’ workforce housing obligations are met by providing rental units. To date, 915 rental units have been completed or are under construction; another 185 have been approved. 
  • There are 167 for-sale units (completed or under construction) and another 23 units have been approved but are not yet built.
  • To date, 43 units have been sold with another 31 currently under contract

Palm Beach County is taking an active role in promoting workforce housing to help essential workers such as police officers, firefighters, teachers, medical professionals, engineers and public servants find suitable housing in our county. We should all be able to live, work and play in the beautiful South Florida paradise.

COUNTY PREPARES FOR SUPER BOWL LIV

In case you haven’t heard, Super Bowl LIV is coming to Miami on February 2, 2020! The county, as a member of the Super Bowl Host Committee, is working closely with its neighbors to the south in preparing for this momentous occasion. The game will have a major economic impact on the entire South Florida region, and Palm Beach County has coordinated a number of events for our residents and visitors to celebrate Super Bowl LIV.

JAN 27:  Super Bowl Football Camps at Lake Lytal Park in West Palm Beach and

Orange Bowl Field at Glades Pioneer Park

JAN 28:  NFL Alumni Hospital Visits to St Mary’s Medical Center and Palms West Hospital

JAN 29: Delray Beach SUPER Fashion Week (Jan. 29 – Feb. 2); and Super Bowl Community Celebration at Juno Beach Park

JAN 30:  Super Clematis by Night

JAN 31:  Super Bowl Rally at Old School Square Park in Delray Beach

FEB 2:    Super Bowl Party throughout Downtown Delray Beach with game viewing screens, and

Super Bowl Party at Sea on Bahama Paradise Cruise Lines.

Residents will be able to travel to these events, in many cases, using public transportation. Brightline/Virgin trains from West Palm Beach and Tri-Rail will offer a convenient, hassle-free method of getting to and from the game.

For more information, visit www.PalmBeachSports.com/superbowl.

As I continue to serve, I welcome your comments and/or concerns. Please know my staff, Lucia Bonavita and Alexandria Ayala and I are available to provide assistance, and we look forward to a productive 2020. Best wishes to everyone for a safe and prosperous New Year. 

Main office: Robert Weisman Palm Beach County Governmental Center
301 N Olive Ave West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Tel: 561-355-2204​​

Lucia Bonavita Sr Legislative Aide [email protected]

John Taylor Legislative Intern         [email protected]

South County Complex 345 S Congress Ave Delray Beach, FL 33445
Tel: 561-276-1220

Alexandria Ayala Legislative Aide [email protected]

About the Author

- Robert Weinroth is a 27 year resident of Boca Raton where he is an attorney, businessman, former member of the City Council (where he served for four years) and currently serves as an elected member of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Weinroth went to Boston’s Northeastern University where he earned a BSBA in Management. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor at New England School of Law. He is admitted to practice law in Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and the Supreme Court of the United States. Weinroth served as president and general counsel of Freedom Medical Services Inc, an accredited medical supply company in Boca Raton. FREEDOMED® represented the realization of an entrepreneurial dream. Weinroth, and his wife Pamela operated the company for 16 years, eventually selling the business in 2016. Weinroth takes great pride in his past work as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for the 15th Judicial Circuit, advocating for the needs of abused and neglected children deemed dependent by the Court. After serving on multiple community boards and committees, Weinroth was elected to the Boca Raton City Council in 2014. During his tenure, he served as CRA Vice-chair and Deputy Mayor and was appointed to a number of county boards including the Boca Raton Airport Authority, the Palm Tran Service Board, the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency, the Treasure Coast Planning Council and was elected a board member of the Palm Beach County League of Cities. Commissioner Weinroth serves as County Vice-Mayor and has been appointed Chair of the Solid Waste Authority, a board member of the PBC Transportation Planning Agency, and alternate representative on the Treasure Coast Planning Agency and several other county and regional boards. Robert, Pamela and their two dogs, Sierra and Siggy, are proud to call Boca Raton home.

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