By Dan Moffett
Two very familiar suitors have come forward and offered to provide police services to the town of Briny Breezes for the next three years.
One is Boynton Beach, the holder of Briny’s current police contract, which expires on Sept. 30. The other is Ocean Ridge, which policed the town for some 30 years before raising its price and losing the contract to Boynton Beach in 2016.
The proposal Briny’s next-door neighbor submitted to the Town Council suggests it is firmly committed to winning back the lost contract. Ocean Ridge proposes charging Briny $180,000 for the first year of a three-year deal, with subsequent annual 3 percent increases.
That number is significantly below the roughly $219,000 the town is paying Boynton Beach this year, and lower than the $215,690 Boynton says it wants to renew the existing agreement. Briny council members will get the chance to hear the details of both proposals during a special workshop scheduled for Aug. 1. Boynton Beach will make a one-hour presentation on its plan beginning at 3 p.m. in Town Hall, immediately followed by a one-hour presentation from Ocean Ridge.
Besides cost, enforcement issues are likely to come up during the workshop. Alderwoman Christina Adams has complained about how police have handled recent trespassing violations and parking offenses.
In other business:
• Council members assigned Town Manager Dale Sugerman and Town Attorney Keith Davis the task of working out details of a new building permit process with Briny’s corporation.
In May, Alderwoman Kathy Gross proposed allowing the corporation to deal directly with building contractors and the town’s building official when residents apply for permits. The idea is to streamline the process and reduce the workload of town staff.
Corporate officials have been open to the plan but want more details. Sugerman and Davis said they would draft a proposed agreement outlining the process and bring it for consideration at the next meeting on July 25.
The vote to advance the proposal was 3-1, with council President Sue Thaler dissenting and Alderman Chick Behringer absent.
• Ownership of Briny Breezes Boulevard continues to be a nagging issue. Sugerman said Palm Beach County officials have told him the 30-foot-wide right of way belongs to the town and the county claims no ownership. However, developers of the Gulf Stream Views townhouse project in the County Pocket maintain their northern property line runs 4 feet into the current paved road.
Sugerman and Davis said they would research property records to try to confirm ownership and the precise location of the right of way. The manager said it may be necessary for the town to hire a surveyor to resolve the issue.
• During a budget workshop before the June 27 meeting, Sugerman told the council he recommends holding the tax rate at the statutory maximum of $10 per $1,000 of taxable value for the next fiscal year. Briny has maintained that maximum rate since 2009.
The Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office brought good news: Briny’s property values have risen 8.8 percent over the last year, to about $53.8 million. The office said it was the seventh-highest increase among the county’s 39 municipalities.
Property tax revenues figure to rise with the valuation to about $510,300, up from $470,200.
Higher interest returns on reserves, lower legal fees and potential savings on a new police contract are other positives for the next budget year. Sugerman proposes spending $10,000 to replace aging chairs and desks in Town Hall.
The council will hold its next budget workshop at 3 p.m. July 25, immediately before the regular town meeting.