Palm Beach Daily News/The Shiny Sheet: “Palm Beach mayor focuses on budget, upcoming projects in speech”
In her State of the Town address at the annual Palm Beach Civic Association awards meeting Monday, Mayor Gail Coniglio kept reiterating the need to trim costs and to make small adjustments to the budget going forward.
Coniglio said she’s happy with the town’s current financial situation, but she frequently steered back to cost savings when she talked about such issues as hurricane cleanup, staffing needs and the utilities project.
The project to bury the town’s utilities lines is one of the biggest expenses the town will face with bonds up to $90 million for the construction work that is slated to go until 2026. Town officials are trying to get creative to bring those costs down.
“The pursuit of Florida Power and Light tariff credits and intense negotiations with telecommunications providers to reduce and slim down the total budget remains our highest priority,” Coniglio said.
The town has been looking at ways to save money since it allocated $5.4 million in annual savings to help pay down a long-term shortfall in the retirement program.
Last month, the Town Council approved $2.5 million in cuts, including eliminating open positions and re-training staff to perform new duties.
Coniglio acknowledged that staff performance will be important and that workers are doing a great job with the tasks they’ve been given.
“We must remember that our employees are paramount toward the continued success of our community,” she said. “These talented, motivated and goal-oriented employees are multitasking and accomplishing more with less.”
The mayor also discussed other upgrades such as the already-finished project in Bradley Park and the in-the-works $32 million improvements to the Town Docks and the new recreation center.
The Civic Association gave out its annual awards as well.
Co-Chairman of the Association’s Town Beautification Committee John David Corey presented Up Markets head Samantha David with the Beautification Award for her company’s revival of the Royal Poinciana Plaza.
And the Raymond J. Kunkel Award went to three recipients.
Andy DeLong, manager of the Palm Beach Publix, was recognized for his work in keeping the shelves stocked before and after Hurricane Irma; and first responders Ryan Burgoon and Anthony DeJesse received the award for saving a swimmer off Clarke Beach last May.