From The Mayor’s Desk
By: Mayor Scott Singer
Dear Neighbors, in my recent updates, you read about some of the key business initiatives that we are pursuing to continue to ensure a healthy economy, as well as ongoing enhancements to our infrastructure. This month’s update has more about our city budget and low taxes, our strategic planning, and news on exciting openings.
Budget and Low Taxes: September is the month when the city adopts its budget. Unlike Washington, our budgets are always balanced, and we are maintaining healthy reserves. We can be pleased about the ninth straight year with no property tax rate increase. In my eight years as Mayor and City Council Member, I’m pleased to that rate has only decreased during my tenure. With assessed property values rising an average of more than 12%, it means that residents who have the homestead exemption (most of us) will be taxed at an increasingly lower rate compared to the rise in our property values. We work to preserve more of your hard-earned dollars while providing outstanding services with one of the lowest tax rates of any full-service city in Florida. This year’s budget includes some additional programming for the new Wildflower and Silver Palm Parks, due to open fully in the coming month, as well as planning to continue efforts to streamline our outdated land development code. We will continue to invest in improvements in the Boca Raton Golf & Racquet Club, building on our upgrades since we received the donation of this 167-acre championship course, court facilities, and clubhouse.
More Strategic Goals: In the July issue, I discussed our primary goal of making Boca Raton the best place to do business and highlighted several initiatives in that goal. We all set a goal of making our city more sustainable by working on policies to ease the housing crunch. With land values high in Boca Raton and little available land, we recognize that a solution to the continued demand for homes for professionals and employees is a regional effort. I’ve had discussions with mayors of nearby cities on what we can do collaboratively to address this need, which employers have cited as a key issue. We will work on this regional problem with regional solutions. Increased availability of attainable housing in nearby cities that can be built there more quickly and cost effectively can provide employment opportunities for workers in Boca Raton with a variety of commuting options. For years, the Boca Raton Tri Rail station was the most popular on the route in large part because our city operates a shuttle to key centers of employment for professional, tech, and other employees.
Brightline: In August, we reached two more milestones toward the opening of the Brightline station in Downtown Boca, as we marked the topping off of construction of the station and the parking garage that will serve Brightline riders, downtown visitors, and library patrons. Brightline has moved very quickly on construction since the groundbreaking in January, and we remain on track for an opening in late fall. So many residents and businesses see Brightline as a game-changer and recognize how vital it is for us to be connected to a major transportation network that will link us to Miami and Orlando, and hopefully beyond. Check out my Facebook.com page @ScottSingerUSA for a lot more footage of the progress to date.
One of our strategic plans is to refresh our plans for an update of our downtown government master campus: city hall, community center, other city offices, and police station. Speaking again of Brightline, we have an opportunity to expand the vision for this site by integrating these plans with refreshed retail and office near to the Brightline station. Currently, we have some industrial uses across from the station site that are far from highest and best use: a scooter shop, print shop, and other light industrial. We recognize that as a new gateway to our city for professionals and visitors, this area has a lot of potential.
More Openings: Several exciting attractions are coming to Boca Raton. I mentioned the completion of the long-awaited Wildflower Park in our downtown – our 48th park. The privately operated Boca Raton Ice and Fine Arts Center is due to open at the beginning of October, offering a wide range of recreational and cultural programming. We also have a bevy of restaurant openings planned, with major investment by key brand. These include Red Pine, a Chinese concept, Meat Market, a Palm Beach steakhouse, both opening this fall. Looking ahead, Restaurant Row on Butts Road is due to arrive in early 2022, with Pubbelly Sushi, Fiolina, and El Camino. New York’s iconic steakhouse Gallagher’s is also working on their Glades Road location for early next year.