Liggins Updates Council On Progress With Strategic Plan Items

Village Manager Ray Liggins updated the Royal Palm Beach Village Council on various elements of the village’s strategic plan Thursday, Nov. 3.

Liggins said that his staff is reviewing the village’s impact fee policy and would make adjustments based on Palm Beach County voters’ approval of the 1-cent sales surtax and then would report to the council.

“I think the report will give us the flexibility that we need to be consistent with the way we fund capital projects and the way we use the sales tax,” he said.

A proposed policy for development fees will be brought to the council in April in an impact fee ordinance setting requirements for developers.

A general fund revenue projection model was completed and given to the village’s impact fee consultant to make sure that the fees are consistent.

Phase 2 of the RV parking lot project is financed for the next year and still on schedule. Phase 1 is now complete.

Liggins told council members that a customer cost analysis and policy had been developed for park rentals, primarily at Royal Palm Beach Commons Park, after staff found that 90 percent of rentals were by local residents.

Staff members asked attendees at the recent Fall Festival where they were from and how many times they had visited the park.

“Out of 1,248 people we talked to, 50 percent were from Royal Palm Beach, 12 percent were from The Acreage, 9 percent from Loxahatchee, 9 percent from Wellington and 20 percent from other places,” he said.

Liggins added that other surveys are planned at the Winter Festival on Saturday, Dec. 3, as well as West Fest and the Fourth of July event next year.

The village has 78 ongoing capital projects costing $13.5 million and currently has seven contractors working for the village on different construction projects.

Liggins said that the renovation of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office substation is underway, with the locker room complete and the lobby still under construction.

The Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center expansion is on schedule, with a site plan ready for Planning & Zoning Commission review before coming to the council.

Liggins noted that a communications and engagement strategy needs review because he does not have a clear idea on what is desired as a final product.

Several residents had told council members that evening during discussion of boat and RV parking amendments that they had not been aware of the planned changes. They were, however, properly noticed through advertising required by state statute, as well as by the village posting the council agenda on the web site.

“I did hear tonight that we have areas that maybe we can improve on noticing people,” Liggins said, explaining that it is difficult to do a request for proposals because he does not know where to go. “I do know there is some strong desire from the council to do something different that puts us in a position where people can’t complain about notice. I think maybe the best policy is not an RFP going forward because of that unknown conclusion that we are looking for.”

Liggins suggested that the council allow him to hire a consultant to do a media audit of what the village does now to communicate with residents, and get insight on what the options are going forward.

He said that village staff has researched what other municipalities do, and although the village attorney had recommended not using Facebook as a communication tool, many police departments use Facebook as a detective tool.

“If you talk to a city that has a communication department, they’ll say this is the way to do it,” he said. “It’s pretty common among those that have done that step. We’re not there, and I don’t know if the council wants to go there. I think there is a little more investigation that we need to do.”

Council members agreed that hiring a media consultant for less than $10,000 might be the best approach.

Liggins said that amendments to the powers of the Planning & Zoning Commission are moving through the approval process in the form of an ordinance.

Notice requirements for site plan approvals are being added, including notices for items going through that commission that will be coming to the council soon, he said.

Village Attorney Jennifer Ashton said that the additional notices should reduce the impact of contentious or complex projects.

Liggins said that all active projects will be set up on the web site with a tracking chart available to the public.

Software has been purchased for e-permitting. “Staff is going through it and creating flow charts and graphs and all the steps that each permit needs to take,” he said. “We’ll be creating the flow charts over the next three months.”

New mobile maps were used successfully for the first time during Hurricane Matthew. “We got a test run using the damage assessment software,” Liggins said.

Construction has been authorized for a 10-foot pedestrian bridge and lighting on the south side of Sparrow Drive from Royal Palm Beach Blvd. to the Royal Palm Beach Recreation Center.

Crestwood Blvd. Phase 2 is complete, although the completion of the irrigation still must be done, which is the responsibility of the homeowners’ association, he said.

“We’ve been in contact with them over the last eight years, and there is still some confusion,” he said. “I understand that code enforcement is giving them a courtesy notice.”