RPB Postpones Discussion Of IG Funding Grant

The Royal Palm Beach Village Council postponed authorization last week for an interlocal grant requested by the Palm Beach County Commission to provide financing for the Office of the Inspector General.

The village and other municipalities have been providing payments to the county since voters approved an amendment to the county charter establishing the office, but recently, Palm Beach County Clerk & Comptroller Sharon Bock has been holding the money in escrow until a lawsuit against the county by 14 municipalities is settled. That litigation could take more than a year.

In May, Royal Palm Beach received a request from the county commission asking that it enter into an interlocal grant agreement with the county to provide the village’s share of financing for the inspector general’s operations. Setting it up as a grant would bypass the clerk’s authority to hold the money.

The proposal had been placed on the July 5 agenda at the previous meeting after Village Manager Ray Liggins introduced the letter to the council for discussion.

“Since the last meeting, I have had conversations with the county, and they have asked that we postpone this item,” Liggins said. “They have a couple of concerns with the drafted agreement, and one of the problems can be taken care of with a postponement.”

As of July 15, all the numbers for 2013 would be available to calculate the payments — information that was not available to the council last week.

“We were writing the agreement so it would end on Sept. 30, 2012,” Liggins said. “With those numbers, to be completed and counted by July 15, we will be able to write the agreement through 2013.”

Liggins requested the item be postponed until the Aug. 16 council meeting. Councilman Richard Valuntas made a motion to postpone the item.

Councilwoman Martha Webster said that the request looked good, other than waiting for final calculations of what the village would be expected to pay. “Other than that, I’d be willing to approve it today,” Webster said.

Liggins said the main concern is that since the agreement has the ability to renew, he is looking for a cap on future costs. “When we have those numbers, I’ll be able to take care of that concern,” he said.

The motion carried 5-0.

In other business, the council approved a special exception allowing a church to open in the Royal Plaza shopping center at 650 Royal Palm Beach Blvd. The Potter’s House, a congregation of about 60, has been meeting in various locations, including the Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center.

Planning & Zoning Director Bradford O’Brien said the church is in a general commercial district and will provide 70 seats, which will be in the central portion of the northwestern building in the shopping center.

The church will require 18 parking spaces, based on one space for every four seats as required by the village code. The shopping center is required to have 524 spaces, and 673 spaces are provided. The church will have services at 10 a.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

“Staff does not feel that the hours of operation will conflict with the hours of operation of the other businesses within the shopping center,” O’Brien said.

The Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission recommended approval of the application at its meeting June 26.

Potter’s House administrator Leslie Colon said the church has been in the area since 1999 and is excited to be able to put its roots down in Royal Palm Beach. “We have great anticipation of ministering to the residents in Royal Palm Beach,” Colon said.

The church has met at the Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center and Loxahatchee Groves Elementary School. “We look forward to being permanent here in Royal Palm Beach so we don’t have to tear down and set up all of our equipment each Sunday,” Colon said.

Webster asked whether the church had looked at other spaces, and Colon said the congregation has met at the cultural center since 2005 and sought out a location within 2 miles of there.

Webster said she has spoken with officials from a couple of other municipalities that had approved storefront churches and found that they are empty during the day, but she was aware that the church would have Wednesday services and have congregants coming and going at other times during the week.

Colon said office hours will be on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 4 p.m. and that the church would have volunteers coming in during those hours.

Valuntas made a motion to approve the application, which carried unanimously.