Wellington Names Rec Board As Surtax Oversight Committee

The Wellington Village Council passed a resolution Tuesday designating the village’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Board as its Infrastructure Surtax Citizen Oversight Committee.

Director of Administrative & Financial Services Tanya Quickel said the resolution is one of the requirements of the 1-cent surtax referendum that passed in Palm Beach County on Nov. 8, stipulating establishment of an oversight committee to review the expenditures approved by the council.

“Staff is recommending use of the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board as the oversight committee, in addition to their other duties and responsibilities,” Quickel said, explaining that there are other options, including the establishment of a separate committee, using the county’s oversight committee or using a committee established by the Palm Beach County League of Cities. “Our recommendation is that we believe the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board would serve very well in helping us with this to fulfill the requirements of the referendum.”

Councilman Michael Napoleone asked for confirmation that all the committee would do is review the expenditures.

“The expenditures are on our list of projects,” Napoleone said. “They’re not suggesting projects, they’re just a ministerial function, for the most part.”

Vice Mayor John McGovern said that the board’s function will be twofold, as oversight and to make recommendations as to compliance with Florida Statutes.

“So, there’s no official [function] other than advisory and to point out that we’re in compliance or not; there is no administrative function,” McGovern said.

Quickel said that the council will determine the projects, and the board will review the expenditures.

Mayor Anne Gerwig noted that during agenda review on Monday, council members expressed that they would like Wellington residents to be in the position of reviewing the expenditures, rather than having a county committee or using the League of Cities option.

“We would have people familiar with us, and the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board is used to dealing with contracts, and understands these types of functions,” Gerwig said.

McGovern said staff’s recommendation to use the recreation board over another advisory board was because it has more experience reviewing contracts.

Village Manager Paul Schofield said the only other advisory committee that reviews expenditures is the Education Committee.

“The Parks & Recreation Advisory Board has been dealing with capital projects and budgeting for the entirety of the time that the village has been incorporated,” Schofield said. “They look at all the parks plans, and they are used to dealing with projects in the multimillion dollars. They’ve been doing it over an extended amount of time, and it is well within their capabilities.”

Schofield pointed out to council members that as they appoint new members to the board, they should take the oversight qualification into consideration.

Councilman Michael Drahos said he takes all his appointees seriously.

“I trust the judgment of this committee as I would any other, so staff’s recommendation that the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board would be suitable for this is suitable for me,” Drahos said.

McGovern also pointed out that the council could change the membership.

“If we didn’t feel we like this was going the way we intended, we can change this at any time,” he said.

Gerwig said she had considered creating a new committee, but the function did not seem to be a lot of work for a new committee.

“Creating a new committee would be a lot of work, and having staff comply with all the regulations of that,” she said. “In this case, it seems to be a good solution to me without expanding anything else, so I support it.”

Drahos pointed out that there are other municipalities, including Royal Palm Beach, that are using their recreation boards as their surtax oversight committee.

McGovern made a motion to approve the resolution, which carried 5-0.

In related business, the council approved a resolution establishing the sales surtax budget for 2016 and 2017.

“What you are doing is establishing the accounting process for dealing with this,” Schofield said. “We will collect about $2.5 million this year. This just gives it a budget fund to go into. It doesn’t allocate funds, and it doesn’t approve projects. It is simply the accounting mechanism to deal with the income.”

Quickel pointed out that the money was not included in the current budget approved in September because the referendum had not yet been approved.

“The money will sit in an expenditure capital fund,” she said. “Until you designate projects, it will just sit there.”

Quickel said the village should start receiving money by the end of March.

McGovern made a motion to approve the resolution, which carried 5-0.