Epic Reading

A new agenda has been posted to the town website for this week’s commission meeting. It’s EPIC. But that seems to be the trend in agendas these days.

Please find and review the October 5th, 2011 Meeting Agenda here.

When it was first published, War and Peace was 1,227 pages long, and it has become the epitome of EPIC reading. Here in Lake Park, this week’s town agenda is published at 497 pages and is the epitome of bureaucracy. It leaves commissioners and residents with their eyes crossed trying to wade through so much content between Friday and Wednesday. Why the “War and Peace” sized agenda? Well, perhaps there is a fantastic story buried within. I have no doubt there is, but is anyone up for the reading marathon in order to find out? Doubtful, and the Town Staff must certainly be well aware of this.

Here is an overview of topics to be discussed:

Meeting Minutes, Financial Report, Comprehensive Plan and Discussion/Action Items

The content of our “Epic Town Novel” appears to be 2 and 1/2 months worth of meeting minutes from 3 commission meetings, 2 budget workshops, the first public hearing on the budget and a special call attorney/client session. All are included for approval as well as Lake Park’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. Asking for approval of this many items at once is unrealistic and a does a disservice to the commission and the residents. These minutes become the public record. Sufficient time is needed to review these for accuracy before voting to accept them. Why is so much being pushed for approval at once?

In order to hold the town accountable, these minutes need to be published in a more timely manner and this was brought up with the Town Manager in correspondence on more than one occasion over the past months. Due to the wait for these minutes, neither commissioners nor residents have had the benefit of the information contained therein while working through the budget and other recent decisions. The staff was said to have been very busy working on the budget, however, the week after the budget was voted on, suddenly the minutes of 7 meetings are all available at once. You mean in one week they could produce EVERYTHING they couldn’t produce in over 2 months?

2010 Lake Park Comprehensive Annual Financial Report

A 188 page (very detailed) financial report which is included in this budget is to be voted upon for approval.

Again, this is a lot for anyone to digest on it’s own, much less in conjunction with all of the other items in this agenda.

Resolution regarding changes to Development Review Fee Schedule

This schedule, which is found on page 460 lists permit fees for residential as well as non-residential items. I believe the only change is an addition of $150 fee for the new Bank Registration Ordinance recently passed for abandoned homes. (But don’t take my word for it. Please read it yourself to be sure. I am merely doing a quick run through right now.) It is interesting to note the permit fee schedule. Check it out. We will have to come back to the issue of permits another day for sure. Right now we have to slog through the epic read at hand.

Capital Improvements/Comprehensive Plan

In addition, many items within the capital improvement schedule of the comprehensive plan are up for approval on second reading (with updates). I’m not sure if that means there have been updates/changes since the last meeting or if this lists only what was discussed previously. Grant money is needed in order to finance these projects, even some that it seems were also on the town’s budget, such as vehicle replacement and drainage. I’m sure it’s all on the up and up, but it’s worth looking at. So many questions, so little time. Someone must like it that way.

This agenda also suggests discussion and possible action on three items:

A Volunteer Dinner

There will be a discussion of the dinner to honor town volunteers; the cost, the list of volunteers, the place and possible dates for the event.

Fireworks Event Costs

Commissioner Rumsey’s desire to have volunteers help fund a fireworks display. He asked the town to provide some numbers as to the cost for the event. A couple of options have been proposed with and without entertainment as part of the event.

Adult Arcades/Internet Cafés

There is also a discussion item regarding adult arcades/internet cafés which are considered by some as gambling houses. Part of this discussion will revolve around enacting a moratorium to give the town time to create land development regulations against such “arcades” in Lake Park, as is being done in North Palm Beach and Juno beach, because these businesses are possibly in contradiction to Florida Law.

Please do the tedious work of accountability and take some time to review the agenda and the items contained within.

There is much to consider here, and it does not seem wise for the commission to move forward hastily through so much content without the ability to check and confirm that what they are approving is indeed valid. Please contact your commissioners in regard to any concerns you may have. Their contact information is available on the town website.

As a reminder: I seem to remember a certain grant for the purchase of a parking lot that was agreed to without full consideration to the complex details and the ramifications. That vote is now haunting our town. Please make sure we are not rushing through votes for approval of items which have not been fully reviewed for accuracy or potential problems.  

It may mean the difference between another epic “War and Peace” debate in our town.  

Here again is the link to this week’s Wednesday night meeting agendaGet reading, although, we are already down to three days left to slog through it, and we all know, no one has three full days, and likely not even three full hours to devote to this.