Margie Plunkett and Mary Kate Leming
What a jolt to Ocean Ridge commissioners, who found a defibrillator at each of their chairs on the dais at the start of last month’s town meeting.
The brand-new machines weren’t intended as commentary on the liveliness of Ocean Ridge monthly meetings, however. They symbolized the town’s good fortune in receiving not one, but two generous gifts that made possible an abundance of the emergency medical devices used to restart a lifeless heart.
The town presented a certificate of appreciation to residents Albert Naar and Judith Kelly at the July meeting for their $9,065 contribution to purchase seven Automated External Defibrillators for the Police Department.
The two had discovered the need to replace aging defibrillators in the department’s annual report. As it turns out, while awaiting delivery of its new AEDs, the town learned it had also been awarded a $9,065 grant from Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation to purchase seven defibrillators, and was only one of two police agencies to win the award in Florida.
With the two donations, the town would have had 14 AEDs — one per police officer, more than one per police car and about one for about every 120 residents.
To prevent the loss of the grant money, however, Naar and Kelly allowed their contribution to be used for other Police Department needs, Police Chief Chris Yannuzzi said in a monthly newsletter. “It was a pleasure recognizing them at the Town Commission meeting and, coincidentally, the new AEDs arrived the same day.”
The 2011-12 budget notes the residents’ donation as being used to help pay for a Computer Aided Dispatch system for the Police Department from USA Software with a total price of $100,386.
Commissioners at their Aug. 1 meeting approved using $72,000 in 2010/11 budget funds to buy the CAD. The balance is from donations, including Naar’s and Kelly’s.
“We have a very generous citizenship that contributes” to police equipment, Yanuzzi said. Most contribute through the fundraising efforts of the Public Safety Support Group. It’s more rare for a large donation be made outside that effort, Yannuzzi said.
The support group raises in the vicinity of $30,000 or $40,000 a year for the Police Department, the police chief said.
When Naar and Kelly heard that their donation duplicated the grant, they said, “You’d be nuts to turn down the Fire House Subs grant” and put their money toward other police equipment instead, according to Yannuzzi.
Other police items authorized by commissioners to be purchased with the 2010/11 budget at the August meeting were an advanced authentication system, two security cameras, upgraded security system hard drive and a police vehicle.
While still operating in the 2010/11 budget, commissioners have been working on next year’s budget.
They’ve approved a tentative tax rate of $5.30 per $1,000 of a home’s taxable value at their July meeting, with the intent to lower it, if possible, before final approval.
The rate can be decreased at this stage, but cannot be raised. The current tax rate is $5.15 per $1,000.