RPB Will Increase Support For Art & Music Festival

The Royal Palm Beach Village Council agreed last week to add an extra $10,000 into next year’s budget to support the Royal Palm Art & Music Festival at the behest of Vice Mayor Fred Pinto, who said he was pleased with the success of the event.

At the April 19 meeting, Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce CEO Jaene Miranda said the March festival was a tremendous success, despite rain that made it necessary for sidewalk artists to redraw their work.

“I have to give credit to the artists because they wouldn’t give up,” Miranda said. “After it rained on Saturday, most of them came back on Sunday morning and repainted their artwork.”

Miranda said residents and artists both enjoyed the event. “The fireworks were very well-received. We had two fireworks shows, and we had a lot of compliments on that,” she said.

The fireworks replaced a laser light show that was put on the year before, which had not received good reviews.

“Sponsors were happy with the crowds,” Miranda said. “We really did have large crowds before the rain came. Even after it rained on Saturday, it cleared up pretty quickly and the crowds came right back.”

Plans are already underway for next year’s festival.

Pinto, who had been critical of some elements prior to the event, such as changing from the laser show to fireworks without consulting the council, suggested including an additional $10,000 in next year’s village budget for the festival, but also requested that chamber staff work with the village on how to support more participation by children. “I think it’s an important event for everyone,” Pinto said.

Councilman Jeff Hmara congratulated Miranda on a successful event. “It’s really sad to watch all that beautiful chalk washed away,” Hmara said, pointing out that the rain did not wash out numerous other activities. “It was a wonderful event.”

Councilman Richard Valuntas said he was impressed with the participation. “I thought we had a lot of turnout and a lot of participation,” he said. “It’s a great way for the community to get out and be involved and a good cause.”

Councilwoman Martha Webster said she was especially pleased that the chamber had worked with the village to avoid a gate fee. Webster asked how the chamber’s merger with the former Greater Lake Worth Chamber of Commerce is going to affect the Lake Worth Street Painting Festival, and Miranda said the events are timed a month apart so there is no conflict.

“The Street Painting Festival in Lake Worth is managed by us,” Miranda said. “However, there is a street painting festival nonprofit that owns the event. We work in cooperation with them. That event is in early February, so they will be a month apart.”

In other business, the council gave final approval to creating a stormwater management utility that will charge property owners a specific fee for stormwater management rather than take financing from the general fund, as it has in the past.

The idea had been reviewed in a February workshop before receiving preliminary approval April 5 and final approval last week.

Consultant Scott McClelland of CDM Smith said stormwater runoff from driveways, roofs and other impervious areas make it necessary for municipalities to control flooding, erosion and pollution that the runoff causes.

“The village already provides a stormwater management program,” McClelland said, explaining that the amount charged to the property would be relative to the amount of hard-surface area the property has.

Village Manager Ray Liggins said having a stormwater utility will be a more equitable way to assess property owners for the service, which now comes out of the general fund.

“The fact that we have a stormwater utility on our books now will definitely give me the ability to draft this year’s budget reducing the pressure on the general fund,” Liggins told the Town-Crier on Monday.

Liggins added that it also halts what amounted to charging some residents twice for stormwater management — those who are served by alternate drainage districts such as the Indian Trail Improvement District and the Lake Worth Drainage District.

“There will be an exemption for those who are receiving service from another provider,” Liggins said. “As it relates to those areas, with Lake Worth being on the east side of our town and Indian Trail being on the west side, we do not provide the service and we do not therefore have those costs, and they will not be assessed for drainage.”

McClelland noted previously that the canal system in Royal Palm Beach handles stormwater runoff relatively well, but that no significant improvements have been made in decades, and that eventually, siltation in the canals would reduce their effectiveness.

There are about 160 stormwater utilities in Florida, with eight in Palm Beach County, McClelland said. The average rate in the state is $4.60 per month per billing unit, and the average rate in Palm Beach County is $5.44 per billing unit. The billing unit is defined as the median impervious area for single-family homes. In RPB, that would be 2,723 square feet, based on an average of all single-family homes.

Under the formula, a single-family homeowner in the village would pay one equivalent residential unit (ERU) per dwelling unit, and nonresidential customers would pay based on the ratio of their actual impervious area to 2,723 square feet.

Pinto made a motion to approve the ordinance, which carried unanimously.