The meeting was called to order at 11:00 a.m. by President Bob Rozema.
Board Members present: Rozema, Ieraci, Berkowitz, Glickfield, Guttman, Casier, Comis, Ellis, Freismuth, Gilligan, Hamaker, Mayer, McBride, Montross, Nicholson-Brown, Persiani and Talerico.
Approval of Minutes - The minutes of December 15, 2005 were approved.
Old & New Business - President Rozema introduced and welcomed Fort Lauderdale Assistant City Manager Kathleen Gunn, who shared the following:
- Spoke to hurricane devastation of landscaping, street lights, etc., throughout the city. There is a two month order backlog for our lights. Trees along sidewalk were cut as precursor to extraction. Parks Director Phil Thornberg reported that bidding will take place this week for new trees. Galt project is expected to commence by the end of February or the first of March. The Mile needs 300 trees. An estimate of $10 million in landscaping was lost by the city. Due to the expense, the City will “phase” in replacement landscaping.
- A question was asked about root balls intertwined with utility lines affecting electricity and water when tree stumps are removed. Kathleen will bring this to the attention of the appropriate authorities. Ms. Gunn stated that certain trees are more environmentally compatible than others for the Galt ecosystem.
- There are changes in the City Manager’s office: David Hébert to be the 3rd Assistant City Manager, along with Ms. Gunn and Stephen Scott. The area needs more emergency personnel, needs to be self-reliant and needs a dedicated position to coordinate police, fire, medical, security, etc. A position has been created to coordinate efforts with UASI (Urban Area Security Initiative).
- The City has stepped up recruitment to fill police department positions. Fort Lauderdale has many employment opportunities.
- Responding to Pio’s concern about increased vehicle and home invasions in the Rio Vista neighborhood, she referred to a commissioned survey that affixed responsibility on Police management; the problem is being addressed and crime statistics are improving.
- There has been tremendous residential growth. Ms. Gunn is working with Economic Development Director Ronald Hicks to attract new businesses, preferably mid-size companies such as Kaplan University.
- Pio expressed concern about recent dramatic tax increases drastically impacting the City’s attraction to foreign nationals. Kathleen responded that despite rising costs, taxes had not been raised for many years. This was gross mismanagement. Since the correction, the City’s Fund Balance has been increased from $875,000 to $20 million and the City’s bond rating was recently raised. Employment vacancies are currently being filled. Recent tax increases were primarily due to skyrocketing property values. There was a slight decrease in the city millage rate.
- Ms. Gunn discussed building permits – a “priority” review service is being established. For a small premium, permit applications will be expedited. This new service may begin within 4 months.
- Discussed addressing issues between the city and the county. With the departure of former Broward Administrator Roger Desjerlais, with whom City Manager George Gretsas enjoyed a good working relationship, it became critical for the City to build a new understanding with the County. The City is currently working with New Broward Mayor Ben Graber and Interim County Administrator Bertha Henry to that end.
Click Here for full report about Assistant City Manager Kathleen Gunn’s address to the Advisory Board. [Editor]
- Sapphire: While contracts have been sent out, some have not been returned so some units are possibly available.
Opus South - Bob Rozema stated that the developer has withdrawn.
Il Lugano - Ralph Hamaker - There will be dock space on the intracoastal.
Galt Mile Web Site – Eric Berkowitz - December Hits: 498,342 – 5,667 first timers
New articles include: Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff discussed the issues tackled at the December Special Session on the Florida Legislature, a summary of the questionable actions and statements made by Condo Ombudsman Virgil Rizzo, Regency South President Garland Warren’s experience with FEMA and Vice Mayor Christine Teel’s uncontested re-election.
Correspondence - Reviewed
Treasurer’s Report - Leah Glickfield reported $16,338.16 in our Treasury.
- Bob Rozema thanked the Board of Directors and Advisory Board for their support and loyalty during 2005.
Next Board Meeting - THE NEXT REGULAR BOARD MEETING WILL BE HELD ON THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2006.
Meeting adjourned at 12:30 P.M.
Fern McBride, Assistant Secretary