Lake Wellington Offices Proving To Be A Solid Village Investment

The Wellington Village Council approved resolutions Tuesday adopting the Lake Wellington Professional Centre budget, the Acme Improvement District water and wastewater budget, and the village’s solid waste assessment.

The Lake Wellington Professional Centre, purchased two years ago, drew special attention from council members, who had been concerned about operating a private entity. Director of Administrative & Financial Services Tanya Quickel reported surplus revenue, however, and about 95 percent occupancy, up from only about 80 percent when the village purchased it.

Lake Wellington Professional Centre’s budget of $508,666 for this year is proposed to go up $135,000 to $643,666, which includes an accountant. About $1 million of the purchase price has been repaid. About $684,000 is anticipated in lease revenue with $45,000 in excess revenue from the previous year.

The village bought the property in December 2013 for $5 million, and the owner, former Palm Beach County Commissioner Ken Adams, donated $1 million back to the village. It had three appraisals in 2011 with an average price of $4.8 million. The 2.5-acre property houses 22,282 square feet of office space and is home to several dozen local businesses.

Councilman Matt Willhite asked about staff for the building, and Quickel said that when they purchased the building, it had three salaries costing just under $115,000.

“Where we stand now, it’s at $142,000,” she said, explaining that the staff had received 3 percent raises along with other village staff.

A previously contracted janitorial position is now a part-time position, she said. “It’s fairly comparable,” Quickel said. “It has increased because we had additional things that they paid as outside services before.”

Willhite asked about the overall plan for upkeep of the building, and Quickel said money is being put away to cover the cost of new air conditioning and a roof, which were evaluated when the building was purchased. She estimated that the village is spending $10,000 to $15,000 a year for various roof repairs.

“Those are the two items that are a bit challenging with the age of those facilities, so those budgets are for items related to that,” Quickel said. “As long as it is being leased, those are items we have to address.”

Quickel said that if there were serious breakdowns, such as an air conditioner failure, she would go to the village manager for direction. “We haven’t had that issue yet, but we can have some fairly serious issues,” she said.

Willhite asked whether there had been any negative feedback about Wellington operating the business. Village Manager Paul Schofield said some prospective tenants had chosen not to lease there, but the village operating the property did not appear to be creating a negative impact on other local businesses that rent space.

Schofield added that his staff did not anticipate any major repairs in the remaining three years of a five-year timeframe the council had set up for evaluation.

“It’s still a profit center for us, and we’ve begun to look at it in relation to, if we want to enhance the lakefront access, what buildings could we continue to use, what buildings would we not use, and we would clearly start with the older buildings, taking [those] out of service first,” he said.

Gerwig recalled that the council had set the five-year timeframe to recoup the money they had paid for the buildings, and Willhite suggested setting aside some of that profit in the next three years for whatever might happen in the future. “We’ve shown a positive benefit to our community from a business aspect that we’re offering leases at a good rate and people are taking advantage of it, not that the previous owner didn’t,” he said.

Moving to the village’s solid waste budget, Willhite asked about costs to residents.

Quickel said the monthly solid waste bill has dropped since Wellington went under the renegotiated contract in June. Residents will pay $140 annually ($11.66 a month) for curbside service, and $105 annually ($8.75 a month) for containerized service.

The Acme drainage assessment is slated to remain unchanged at $230 a year. The Acme water and wastewater fees also remain unchanged at $18.22 per month as the monthly base rate, and $17.38 for wastewater for single-meter residential service. The water charge is $2.06 for less than 6,000 gallons, $3.07 for 6,001 to 15,000 gallons, $4.12 for 15,001 to 25,000 gallons and $6.76 for more than 25,000 gallons.

A resolution adopting Acme’s non-ad valorem assessment of $230 per unit, as well as a capital budget presentation, was postponed to Aug. 25.