By Tim O’Meilia

    The long-necked, long-lived streetlights Gulf Stream had hoped to install along State Road A1A came at an equally long-lasting price — $315,000.
    The 35 cobra-headed black poles would have been fitted with energy saving LED lights. Compare that with Florida Power & Light’s gray concrete poles topped with traditional sodium vapor lights.
    Now, compare the price: $315,000 vs. $0.
    “Too much money,” Mayor Joan Orthwein said of the more elegant and more eco-friendly cobra heads.
    Instead, town commissioners unanimously decided Sept. 13 to scratch the custom-made poles and go generic. FPL will supply and install the lights at no cost.
    Commissioners had hoped to refit all 88 of the town’s street lights with six-sided lantern-shaped lights, but the taller, long-necked variety must be installed on A1A because of their required distance from the street. And the $700,000 cost was far above the $380,000 anticipated.
    The town’s interior streets will get 53 lantern tops fitted with LED lights with three brightness settings for $400,000. They’ll be installed as the town begins putting its power, telephone and cable lines underground this month.
    In other business, commissioners:
    • Approved unanimously a $3.5 million budget that boosts the tax rate by 19.4 percent, from $3.10 per $1,000 of taxable property value to $3.70. The budget includes $288,000 for the first phase of street lighting, $162,000 to repay the town’s reserve fund and a 2.5 percent pay hike for employees. The owner of $1 million in taxable property value this year would pay $600 more next year, if his property value remained the same. But values in Gulf Stream increased an average of 5.4 percent, so the added tax would be more.
    • Approved unanimously a development agreement with resident Martin O’Boyle that permits him to remodel his property on North Hidden Harbour Drive under the building code as it existed in 1981 except for dock and canal structures. The deal is part of the court settlement of 21 of O’Boyle’s 22 lawsuits against the town following the March denial of his request for a 25-foot-tall entryway and others changes. O’Boyle also received $180,000 and an apology from the town. O’Boyle removed paintings and signs from his home criticizing town officials. O’Boyle and the town are negotiating the final lawsuit over the cost of public records requests.
    • Learned that Town Manager William Thrasher had negotiated a new five-year agreement with Waste Management Inc. for residential garbage pickup for $135,000 annually. Ú

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  • O'Boyle was the appetizer, the main course is about to be served.

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