Riviera Beach proposal cuts jobs, raises taxes

Willie Howard

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Updated: 10:17 p.m. Saturday, July 24, 2010
Posted: 8:52 p.m. Saturday, July 24, 2010
                                                                                     [Be sure to Read comments at end.]

Falling property values continue to take a toll on Riviera Beach's budget.

Facing a 15 percent drop in the city's taxable property value, City Manager Ruth Jones has proposed a budget that offsets a projected $6.7 million shortfall for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Jones' proposal includes:

  • Offering incentives for employees to leave the city's payroll voluntarily.
  • Eliminating 38 jobs, including six firefighters, five police positions and eight marina employees.
  • Extending the one-day-a-month unpaid furlough for all employees that began last fall.
  • Eliminating the subsidy for the popular monthly Jazz After Dark concerts.
  • Imposing a 12 percent tax rate increase that would cost the owner of a $200,000 homestead an additional $150 annually.

Last fall, the council held the tax rate unchanged at $8.43 for each $1,000 in taxable value for the current budget year but borrowed $2.8 million from reserves.

The proposed $49.5 million general fund budget - down from $53.2 million this year - does not tap reserves. But it would increase the tax rate to $9.43 per $1,000.

Consolidations proposed in the budget would combine the Parks and Recreation Department and the library under a Parks and Leisure Services Department.

Jones proposes eliminating one of two assistant city manager jobs and creating a lower-paid assistant to the city manager position to handle special projects and grants.

Communications, marketing and oversight of the city's public access television station, RBTV-18, would be handled under a new public information officer proposed in Jones' plan. Communications is currently handled by the city's chief of staff, Rose Anne Brown .

"I like the idea that she's making some efforts to restructure," Councilman Shelby Lowe said of Jones. "She's got some more work to do.  "We're top-heavy."  Lowe agrees with plans to eliminate the Jazz After Dark subsidy. He said the concerts could be run by a private company instead of the Parks and Recreation Department.

But Councilman Cedrick Thomas is fighting the plans to cut $90,000 in annual support for Jazz After Dark.  "I see a signature event for this city that I'm very proud of," Thomas said during a budget workshop Tuesday .

The only city-funded special event in the proposed budget is the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

Thomas also asked Jones to look for ways to support the Weed and Seed and Youth Empowerment Center programs that provide after-school activities for youths.

Proposed police department cuts include laying off one technician and eliminating five vacant officer positions and one vacant position for a lieutenant.

Plans to lay off six of the city's 70 firefighters would force the city to close one of its four fire stations or pay more in overtime to maintain staffing levels, said Chuck Lupo, a union representative with the Professional Firefighters/Paramedics of Palm Beach County.

The manager's proposal assumes the marina will be under construction during much of the budget year.  Jones recommends eliminating eight jobs at the marina: three dock attendants, one clerk and four forklift operators.

The city does not plan to offer on-land boat storage during construction, but about 60 wet slips, fuel sales, the marina store and Newcomb Hall are expected to remain open.

City manager's budget plan

Proposed budget:

$49.5 million general fund, down 7 percent

Proposed tax rate: $9.43 per $1,000 taxable property value, up 12 percent

Changes in personnel: 38 jobs eliminated including six firefighters, five police positions and eight marina employees. Extending one-day-a-month unpaid furloughs. Offering incentives for employees to leave.

Meetings: Budget workshop at 5:30 p.m. Monday .

Since the city is so top heavy why don't the executives and the mayor take a paycut, just until they can raise the revenue. It makes no sense to cut out recreation facilities and parks, police and firemen when the solution is right there. If you want the community to suffer with joblessness, and hopelessness why not join them by taking a pay cut at the executive level.
9:15 PM, 7/24/2010
Cutting the Mayor and Council pay will not make a dent in the budget. Frankly, at $19K a year, the council is underpaid. However, as a taxpayer contributing almost $17K a year to city taxes, I expect fire and police services to remain at the current level. Cut out programs, hire a grant writer, cut general staff. HIRE COMPETENT EMPLOYEES.
10:25 PM, 7/24/2010
Don't make me pay more because the city didn't save during the good times. Instead of saving money, they hired hired hired and spent spent spent. You are paying $170,000 to a city manager. Let her figure out how to get us out of this mess WITHOUT putting it on the backs of the taxpayers. I've had enough! Where's Obama? He was here when he needed your vote. Where is he now? Strolling around the coast of Maine eating ice cream and picking blueberries.
forgotten middle class
10:31 PM, 7/24/2010
Unbelievable. They are going to raise our taxes by 1mill. Oh yes they are. There is only one person on the council against it. Voters, we need to remember the people raising our taxes come March. And Shelby, yes the city is top heavy. But you spend the city's money like a drunken sailor. And I say sailor because you are seeing the world on the taxpayers dime. Get some discipline.
Toes in the sand guy
10:44 PM, 7/24/2010
To set an example, council members & mayor should give up their $500 MONTHLY gas allowance, health insurance, credit cards & cell phones. Why no talk of that?

Certain people LOVE cash events - like Jazz After Dark. No further comment necessary - you figure it out. Don't let a private co. do it & RB gets the liability!

If new position - information mgr. - why do we need a chief of staff?

Getting rid of one of TWO asst.city mgrs.is LONG OVERDUE. RB never needed two in the first place.
Show you're serious
11:09 PM, 7/24/2010
95% of Riviera Beach is minority. But the other 5% (on the island) of the population pays 95% of the property taxes. Want to fix the town? Get rid of the gangs, knock down slums, upgrade and rezone the main drag, and attract tourists. Stop fighting at city hall, fire the corrupt cops, and act like people instead of a bunch of dogs.

Or watch your p*ss a** town go to Hell.
just saying
11:12 PM, 7/24/2010
I was at the Riveria Beach marina TIKI Bar this afternoon and I can say there were at least 5 cops there, way more than needed. Looks like a cut is needed.
11:24 PM, 7/24/2010

So Ruth Jones comes to town being payed an absurd salary of $150K plus and now raises our taxes in a budget that includes not one dime of pay reduction for herself. This city should have no employees being paid more than $90k - the average annual income in Riviera is less than $30k per year. If that's not enough hit the bricks - they'll be a line out the door for a $90K job in this economy.
1:54 AM, 7/25/2010
If Riviera Beach really wanted to save tax payers money, they would merge public safety services with the county. Consideration should also be given to merging water and sewer services with the county. Everyday you read about another city trying to cut their budgets but hold unto their control. Royal Palm Beach should be the model everyone follows.
let's get real
7:56 AM, 7/25/2010
ACROSS THE BOARD CUTS. . .starting with Mayor and Council. CUT $550 month car allowance plus 10%. CANCEL all travel. CANCEL take home cars and free gas. NO asst. to city manager since you have asst. city manager. Manager & asst. SHOULD do more for what they make. Council needs to make the tough decisions and start acting responsibly. STOP the give-aways to non-qualified family, friends and felons. Keep ignoring sound recommendations at will and the ditch keeps getting deeper. DO the right thing!
Across the board
8:22 AM, 7/25/2010
Ruth Jones got a seven percent raise about six months ago when raises for other city employees is frozen
are you serious

10:56 AM, 7/25/2010
400 thousand dollars a year to rent the port center get some office trailers and put them behind the police station
tired of the bull

11:27 AM, 7/25/2010
Is it a DEPRESSION yet?

11:29 AM, 7/25/2010
5% of residents are paying 95% of the taxes? Say no more because you cleared up any and all questions I had !
Sounds like the new motto will become "Riviera Beach , don't slow down"

11:33 AM, 7/25/2010
City gave away Tiki bar lease for $6K a mnth when it had offer for $22K, spent $275K to kick rent paying tenent out of marina, spent millions on stupid concerts at beach, gave away waterfront land & public street to Viking for nothing, trying to give away marina to Viking, pay absurd salaries to Pam Ryan (Cty Attrny) & Ruth Jones, - corruption catches up to us. Fire Pam Ryan & Ruth Jones and replace with competent people at half the pay. Redo lease at Tiki - then talk about taxes.

11:58 AM, 7/25/2010
Last night I watched the most recent council meeting on channel 18. I was ready to throw my tv off the balcony! Only one councilor stood firm on NO TAX INCREASE! Only one! I felt the frustration in Ms Pardo's voice and I commend her for standing firm. I also commend her for bringing the utilities issues to the forefront. Two years to reallocate utilities? The marina director and his supervisor should have been fired on the spot! This city lacks leadership and intelligent employees.

1:17 PM, 7/25/2010
Rivera Beach has been a crime riddled problem for more than 20 years. The people on the "Island" should petition to make that a separate city and let the rest of the "city" pay for itself.

1:31 PM, 7/25/2010
City of Riviera Beach should start from the top instead of elliminating positions from the bottom. Ruth Jones put ALL dept

 heads on probation, what was the outcome?? There are employees at RB with over 25 years, why are they still there? A

 City Mgr making over $100K a year with a povered city (let's get our priorites right). How can a City Fire Chief act as an

Keeping It Real

2:08 PM, 7/25/2010
All these RB politicians are Obamites. You will PAY and shut up. You RB people are getting what you deserve. Obama

 has you on his welfare plantation leash and you will jump when he says so. Don't worry, the suckah rich white people are

 picking up the tab.

Wait until the rich are gone. Obama could care less about you RB useful idiots.

Biff Logan

7:40 AM, 7/26/2010



Riviera Beach council stymied in picking preliminary tax rate for 2010-11

By Willie Howard
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Posted: 2:10 p.m. Thursday, July 22, 2010

The city council is deadlocked on how much it wants to charge property owners in taxes next year.

The council split 2-2 Wednesday on setting the maximum tax rate at $9.43 for each $1,000 in taxable value for the coming budget year, which starts Oct. 1.

Chairwoman Dawn Pardo and Councilman Cedrick Thomas voted against the proposed preliminary tax rate, a 12 percent increase from the city's existing rate. Councilman Shelby Lowe was absent.

The council also split 2-2 on a proposal to set the maximum tax rate at $8.93 per $1,000, which would be a 6 percent hike. Pardo and Councilwoman Judy Davis cast the dissenting votes on that proposal.

City Manager Ruth Jones is recommending the $9.43 rate, which would mean a $943 city tax bill for the owner of a $150,000 home with a homestead exemption.

City spokeswoman Rose Anne Brown said no date has been scheduled for the council to set the preliminary tax rate, which must be sent to the Palm Beach County property appraiser's office by Aug. 4.

The preliminary tax rate is the maximum rate the city could levy for the 2010-11 budget year. The council could approve a lower tax rate when it passes the final budget in September.

[RG4RB-Ed.  The City would do well to consider what the rest of the world is doing about deficits - smaller more efficient government, less travel, auto, donations and other non essential expenditures.  Deal with Pension distortions.  The Council could set an example by foregoing their discretionary slush-fund accounts.  SHAME - SHAME for "TAX and SPEND".]