Monday, June 17, 2019

Half the story - leaving out a very important detail - the Truth: Palmetto Bay is hosting a regional MEGA Fourth of July event. Black Point's celebration moves to Palmetto Bay

Get ready. The historic and popular Miami-Dade County Fourth of July event held at Black Point has been relocated to Palmetto Bay.  And those familiar with Miami-Dade County's Black Point celebration will remember how large it is; how many people take part and enjoyed that event.  I am personally shocked and disappointed that it will not be happening for 2019. I am sure many others will share that view. But that is not the point of this blog. The point is that the Palmetto Bay Village council has apparently made a huge policy decision without input or even notice to its residents in adopting and combining the Black Point Independence Day Celebration with the much smaller event held in Palmetto Bay.

So much for the small town feel to our past Fourth of July Event put together for our Palmetto Bay residents. My initial concern is transparency. Just when were our elected officials going to tell us? This was not discussed at a publicly noticed Village Council meeting. This is not a policy decision to be made by a single member of our Village Council per our charter.


The County did not simply "donate" to Palmetto Bay, but instead the historic Black Point event is now part of the MEGA Palmetto Bay/Cutler Bay?Miami-Dade County event; placing the responsibility for this blended event largely onto the shoulders of the Palmetto Bay taxpayers. This has the potential to have a huge impact upon our community. The County's celebration at Black Point was a huge competitor to Palmetto Bay's event. When were Palmetto Bay Mayor and council going to tell the residents that the County Celebration at Black Point was canceled - no, actually, MOVED to Palmetto Bay? This is an important detail! I have posted the Mayor's quote below, as it is more important for what is fails to say that what little information it actually provides.  

This is our 6th year hosting Independence Day right here in our Village. With the support of Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners, the Village was able to secure great street entertainment, artists, and live bands,” said Mayor Karyn Cunningham.
Does anyone else here feel like they have been left out of the loop? 

CLICK HERE to view the source (posted as of 6/16/2019) - the official Palmetto Bay website. I am of the opinion that the facts portrayed by the Mayor and Village on this issue are far from accurately portraying the truth.

Let's face it - the quote was disingenuous. Nowhere does it say that this "support" is really to transfer costs and logistics of the Black Point event from Miami-Dade County, and move it all over to the Palmetto Bay venue. Will the "support"of the Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners go to offset the $50,000.00 Palmetto Bay has budgeted for this event or is it all for newer expenses? What is the amount of the donation? Has this decision been delegated to a single member of the village council as to how the contributions from the County and Cutler Bay will be used - simply adding to the cost of the event without passing on any relief to Palmetto Bay taxpayers?


$50,000.00 budgeted by Palmetto Bay. The event appears to be approximately 60% subsidized. Along with the $50,000.00 Palmetto Bay taxpayor investment, Cutler Bay appears to be contributing $4,000 plus some police and Parks personnel, $2,500 from the office of County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, a $5,000 grant from Miami-Dade County. There are many more donations, as usual, as there have been over the 6 year history of this event. Atlantico, the apartment developer, has made a donation as well as providing use of their facilities for parking and for the VIP area (I wonder who will be invited to be in the VIP area?) Will Cutler Bay be shuttling people into Palmetto Bay via their Town circulator in order to reduce traffic? 

The County did not providing funding in order for Palmetto Bay "...to secure great street entertainment, artists, and live bands" - Palmetto Bay has been able to provide great street entertainment, artists and live bands each of the past 5 years. The money from the County is a small part of the annual costs of the Black Point festivities that Palmetto Bay taxpayers will now be undertaking and undertaking without putting the question to its residents as to whether they want to transform our local event into a much larger regional event.

We would know the answers to my questions had this matter had been discussed in public, instead of these decisions (including potentially ill-advised decisions) being made within private offices.

Worse yet, if it doesn't go well, will Cutler Bay and Miami-Dade County decommit to donating in future years while leaving Palmetto Bay taxpayers holding onto the annual costs of this regional celebration?
Miami-Dade County banner displayed at Black Point - notification that their July 4th Celebration moved to Palmetto Bay
Transparency is important, or should be. Involving residents in the planning of events is important, or should be. Heck, involving the entire council at a publicly noticed meeting (held in front of the public) is important - was it? If so, which members of the Village Council knew the complete and full facts of this blending of events and when did they first become aware of it.
   
So the truth is that this is no longer a local Palmetto Bay event - the county has "donated" money to the Village of Palmetto Bay to take over the historic and very well attended Black Point event (which I and my family have enjoyed many times over the past years) and hold it here in Palmetto Bay.

Was this MEGA special event discussed by the council publicly or passed along from council member to council member via an intermediary? 



How much is this support adding to the MEGA regional fireworks show?



And why is this event (and important change) being promoted outside of Palmetto Bay, but not to our own Palmetto Bay residents?

I'd like to see the parking and security plans for these recently enlarged MEGA public event. Will parking occur along US1 or will the neighborhoods be asked to absorb the additional traffic and parking? Will Palmetto Bay residents be provided priority parking and seating or do they risk being pushed back in their own event at this 6th year?


The above are a few of the issues that should be discussed in public as we all have a right to know.


I have said it  before, transparency is dead in Palmetto Bay. But then again, that's why readership is going so well on this blog as this is a place where I can truly say, "you read it here first!"

I have posted the Village event poster (right) that has been distributed as of June 16. Where does it provide notice that this event has changed from its original scope and size?


I also think it prudent that those redirected from the County event to Palmetto Bay be made aware that the rules are different. Palmetto Bay relies upon Food Vendors to sell their wares to the attendees - the key difference from the Black Point event is that Palmetto Bay does not allow personal BBQ grills. Let's get the word out.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Summer YA books preview: The 15 biggest (and best) reads | Entertainment Weekly - Alex Flinn's "Girls of Summer"

Palmetto Bay's own Alex Flinn has her latest YA Book - "Girls of Summer" has been released and is recommended reading for this summer. Entertainment Weekly calls it one of the 15 biggest (and best) reads for this summer. 

See Entertainment online (EW.Com) The 15 biggest (and best) YA books of the summer, by David Canfield, June 12, 2019.  Girls of Summer is featured on page 3 of 17.


 "Best known for her No. 1 best-selling phenomenon Beastly, Flinn returns with an infectiously lovely portrait of four girls who escape to the mountains over one long July, rediscovering their bonds and themselves in the process. ()"





As posted on Amazon:
Perfect for fans of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and To All the Boys I've Loved Before, this compelling contemporary novel is from Alex Flinn, the #1 New York Timesbestselling author of Beastly.
Four girls. One unforgettable July.

Britta is the bubbly drama queen. She needs to get away—and a peaceful cabin in the woods sounds like the perfect escape.
Meredith is the overachiever. She’s spent her entire life preparing for college, but at what cost? Now she’s wondering if that’s all there is.
Kate is the reluctant socialite. She’s searching for a reason to begin again after fleeing her small Georgia town—and a shameful family secret.
Spider is the quiet intellectual. She’s struggling with pain that has isolated her from her peers for much of her life.
When these four very different young women stay together for a month in the mountains, they discover that sometimes getting away from it all can only bring you back to who you really are.

Monday, June 10, 2019

A better step toward seeking canal bank stabilization money - SFWMD invites the public to attend their budget workshop to be held Wed., June 12, starting at 1:00 PM

Do you really want to positively impact the budget of the South Florida Water Management (SFWMD)? Here is your opportunity.  The South Florida Water Management District's Governing Board is encouraging the public to attend the agency's budget workshop on Wednesday, June 12, starting at 1 p.m. The workshop, which will be held at SFWMD Headquarters at 3301 Gun Club Road in West Palm Beach, will be open to the public and broadcast on sfwmd.gov.

This may be short notice (I received the e-mail at 11:00 AM, June 10, 2019), but I highly recommend that residents and elected officials attend and advocate strongly for a budget that includes canal bank restoration in Palmetto Bay.

Other governments may promote it by including it in their municipal legislative agendas, but the State will be reluctant to fund items for the SFWMD not requested by the SFWMD Board. - this is our best opportunity!

CLICK HERE to view prior related posts regarding the South Florida Water Management (SFWMD)

SFWMD Governing Board Encourages Public to Attend Workshop on Next Year's Budget
Forum part of ongoing initiative to increase engagement with the public and stakeholders on issues impacting South Florida's water resources and environment

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The South Florida Water Management District's (SFWMD) Governing Board is encouraging the public to attend the agency's budget workshop on Wednesday, June 12, starting at 1 p.m. The workshop, which will be held at SFWMD Headquarters at 3301 Gun Club Road in West Palm Beach, will be open to the public and broadcast on sfwmd.gov.

Wednesday's workshop agenda will focus on the development of SFWMD's budget for the upcoming 2019-2020 Fiscal Year, which begins Oct. 1. The Governing Board is committed to the continued open development of the budget. Members of the public are encouraged to attend and provide public comment on the agency's budget priorities. The workshop session is informative in nature and no decisions will be made by the Governing Board.

The workshop is the third in a series of workshops the Governing Board plans to hold before each regular monthly business meeting of the Governing Board. These forums are part of the District's ongoing efforts to explore all facets of the region's water resource issues and encourage public participation. 
 
Multimedia

Sunday, June 9, 2019

POD - "say hello to my little friend". This little guy was holding down my mail until I could check on it.

Photo of the day - a little green (very much a juvenile) tree frog. Fee free to use this link (CLICK HERE) which will take you to the UF / IFAS / Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation - Johnson Lab - South Florida's Frogs - in order to assist me in identifying this little creature.

We need to allow nature to keep a balance. 

We saw bats late last week and noted how they eat their weight in mosquitoes, something we can all get behind and support.  

Most diets listed for the various species of frogs appear to be consistent for beetles, crickets, caterpillars, beetle larvae, stinkbugs, ants, spiders, termites, and other small invertebrates.

We need to let these lil guys do their job.

The photo below provides a better perspective on the current side of this juvenile tree frog:


Friday, June 7, 2019

June 6, 2019 - Looking in on a colony of Mexican / Brazilian Free-Tailed Bats who call Palmetto Bay their home.



Are you really aware of the plants and animals that call Palmetto Bay home? 

There was quite a rare air crowd present at the home of Council Member David Singer and family on Thursday, June 6, 2019. We waited with anticipation for the daily departure of the homesteaded bats, identified as Mexican / Brazilian Free-Tailed Bats. We were told that there are pups at this time of year, so a scope was used to invade the bat habitat and observe them pre-evening departure. 

This Bat colony was reviewed by Melquisedec Gamba-Rios, Ph.D., BCI Research Fellow / Florida Bonneted Bat Initiative, Bat Conservation International, batcon.org and Frederick Hubbard, Director, patchofheavensanctuary.org  
This was a great evening in Palmetto Bay - that is if you are a Bat-fan! (And I am!). My photography skills are limited as I was unable to get one of the bats to hold a pose for a photo.

We were told that the southeastern free-tailed bats commonly roost in buildings and under bridges in urban areas, where they form relatively large colonies with individuals typically numbering in the hundreds to thousands. Roosting together in large colonies allows baby bats, called pups, to remain behind in the warmth, comfort, and safety of the colony while the mothers leave the roost to feed.

The subspecies that occurs in the southeastern United States, including Florida, is Tadarida brasiliensis cynocephala.

These bats are the fastest mammals on earth and have been clocked at 99 mph in level flight (can't we give them a round up?!). 

They can fly as high as 10,000 feet and forage on tons of harmful pest insects daily. 

These bats are communal. They are known to form mega colonies that number in the hundreds of thousands, with the largest known maternity colony reaching nearly 20 million bats.

We are fortunate to have a colony of the Mexican / Brazilian Free-Tailed Bat here in Palmetto Bay - we welcome their evening feasts on pests such as mosquitoes. 

CLICK HERE to read more about the Mexican / Brazilian Free-Tailed Bat on the National Park Service Everglades website. 

Here is the link to the page of Bat Conservation International, specific to this Mexican / Free-Tailed Bat subspecies: http://www.batcon.org/resources/media-education/species-profiles/detail/1738

Please visit the respective web sites posted above - support our local environment including preserving the 22 acres on Old Cutler Road.

SPECIAL NOTE: Thank you Palmetto Bay Council Member David Singer and family for being great hosts, both on Thursday, June 6, as well hosts to our Bat-friends who are trying to make a go of it here in suburban Palmetto Bay - I can check Bats off my list of the wide range of creatures that call Palmetto Bay home.




Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Palmetto Bay Municipal Center Construction - Slide Show. We look back at some positive Palmetto Bay History.



Taking a look back - here is the video/slideshow of the day.

Presented is an official slide show of the construction of Palmetto Bay's LEED Platinum Village Hall. This video was originally published on Nov 2, 2012.


What does it mean to be Platinum level LEED Certified? Please see the prior related post of October 9, 2012, entitled Great news. It is official. Palmetto Bay's Village Hall receives Platinum LEED certification.  Many communities are “Green” with envy. 

The talk of a sustainable community was matched by action. This building sets the standard for sustainability. 

A significant portion of this Village Hall was paid through grants and aid from our trips to Tallahassee and Washington during 2006-2009. I continue to believe this project was worth the effort and will bring desirable economic impact to the area.

I hope that this Platinum Village Hall is a reminder to future councils as to what can be achieved when a community is inclusive, focuses on the positive and works together toward mutually established goals.

Very truly yours,

Eugene Flinn

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Property Taxes will increase in the next budget year. The question is how much. Property Appraiser Pedro J. Garcia issues June 1, 2019, Estimates of Taxable Value.

The preliminary tax roll was released for 2019/2020. Here is the initial news and how it will affect home affordability for your upcoming tax bill, what the numbers below mean for those who pay property taxes and it shows why it was smart to lower taxes in Palmetto Bay in 2016 and again in 2018: future taxes will be going up and not everyone is able to simply reach deeper into their pockets and pay an increased bill. The new taxes, and increased taxes that come on line for the 2019/2020 fiscal year will certainly amount to much more than a dinner out for many people, hitting those on a fixed income the hardest.

Here are the facts for the upcoming property taxes:

1. Your tax bill will go up (at least) 3%, the maximum allowable under the Save Our Homes Amendment (SOH) protection, unless the applicable property tax mileage rates are reduced in order to adjust for the increase in revenue. * This is due to the fact that each and every taxing district, each municipality as well as unincorporated Miami-Dade County saw an increase in value above 3.0, unless something drastically changes between the preliminary and final certified tax roll (July 1, 2019).

2. All property tax payers will see an increase in their property tax bills in 2019/2020 as approved by the voters in November 2018: #362. This tax is known in part as “Secure Our Future” – and will be collected from your property tax bills for the next 4 years. This is a new tax and is not covered by the Save Our Homes protection. Property owners will soon see a tax increase of $75 for every $100,000 in assessed taxable value, regardless of residential or commercial. About $232 million stands to be collected in Miami-Dade County, by July 2019 for the referendum’s first year.

This means that a home with an assessed taxable value of $400,000 will pay an additional $300.00 in property taxes for the upcoming property tax year. You can review your tax bill to locate your own assessed taxable value.


3.  Miami-Dade County is long overdue for a garbage fee increase. The proposed increase is $20.00 from $464.00 to $484.00.  This is less than a $4.3% increase. The Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on this proposed increase on June 18, 2019, at 9:30 AM. This proposal may be approved, amended or rejected.

PROPERTY TAX ROLL

I have posted June 1 preliminary tax roll numbers for Palmetto Bay as well as some of our comparable municipalities. Palmetto Bay Council members may feel free to review my numbers and provide their own assessments or advisement.

Source: MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, PROPERTY APPRAISER

2019 Estimated Taxable Values by Taxing Authority
Released JUNE 1, 2019

(CLICK HERE) to view the full document, available on the M-D Property Appraiser web page.

  5.0%   Coral Gables
  5.6%   Cutler Bay
  9.0%   Homestead
  4.6%   Miami Lakes
  4.4%   Pinecrest
  4.2%  Palmetto Bay
  3.9%   South Miami
  6.4%   Unincorporated Miami-Dade (UMSA)

  5.9%   Countywide (will affect your countywide portion of your tax bill)
  4.8%   School Board (will affect your School Board portion of your tax bill)

Notes:
Initial estimate released June 1:
The Miami-Dade Property Appraiser issued the June 1, 2012 Estimates of Taxable Value to Miami-Dade County's Taxing Authorities.  This allows the County, School Board, and local governments such as Coral Gables, South Miami, Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, and Homestead to proceed with the preparation of their 2019-2020 budgets.

Final Property Roll to be released July 1.
July 1st the Property Appraiser’s Office will publish the 2019 Preliminary Assessment Roll, which provides the taxing authorities with their official numbers to set their millage (tax) rates in July.

*Amendment 10 is a benefit of the homestead exemption that provides homeowners protection by limiting the maximum that the assessed value of their home for tax purposes can be raised to 3%, or the CPI whichever is lower (with some exceptions). Voters approved this amendment to the Florida Constitution, which was effective January 1, 1995.