Palm Beach County may require masks in public buildings

WEST PALM BEACH — At the June 16 Board of County Commissioners meeting, the board took the following action:

COVID-19 — The board received an update from Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Florida Department of Health-Palm Beach County and Emergency Management Director Bill Johnson on local COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Dr. Alonso reported a significant spike in new cases, noting the highest number of new cases (1,439) was in the 25-34 age group. The positivity rate countywide has increased as well. Dr. Alonso attributed the trend reversal mainly to more people being out in public who are not practicing safe social distancing and wearing masks. The board agreed to discuss possibly instituting a mandatory mask order at a workshop.

Clerk & Comptroller — The board approved a budget transfer of $4.5 million from general fund contingency reserves to the Clerk of Court Fund 1903 and an emergency fund agreement with the Clerk and Comptroller of Palm Beach County to repay the funds to the county if the Florida Legislature allocates funding relating to the Clerk’s COVID-19 budgetary shortfall or excess court related funds are available. Funding will be used to pay the salaries of essential employees at the Clerk & Comptroller’s Office due to the decline of court-related revenues, affiliated with COVID-19.

Anti-hate —Commissioners adopted a resolution denouncing anti-semitism, anti-Asian bigotry, and all hateful speech, violent action and the spread of misinformation related to COVID-19 that casts blame, promotes racism or discrimination or harms the county’s Asian and Pacific Islander, Jewish, immigrant or other communities, and urges residents to join us in calling attention to these harms and denouncing hate to help keep us all safe during this unprecedented pandemic and beyond.

Dentists – The board adopted an ordinance adding Section 27-81 that requires dentists who handle dental amalgam or tooth fillings to pretreat their wastewater to remove dental amalgam before it enters the county’s wastewater conveyance system. The EPA has determined that dental clinics are the main source of mercury in wastewater conveyance systems and mercury is a component of dental amalgam. Dental offices subject to the ordinance must install a certified amalgam separator by July 14, allow inspections by the Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department (PBCWUD), and complete a one-time compliance report and forward it to the PBCWUD pretreatment coordinator by October 12. Dental offices that do not place or remove dental amalgam must provide a statement to the PBCWUD pretreatment coordinator by July 14.

Palm Tran grants — Commissioners adopted a resolution authorizing a Section 5310 grant application for the replacement of 10 Palm Tran paratransit vehicles at a total project cost of $906,000. This grant requires a 10 percent local match. The board also approved the filing of a grant application with the Federal Transit Administration in the amount of $50.7 million under the CARES Act for capital and operating expenses to prevent, prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak and maintain operations. No local match and no county funds are required.

Palm Tran Connection — The board authorized a grant agreement with the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged (FCTD) in the amount of $4.164 million for the Trip & Equipment Grant Program to provide Palm Tran Connection service trips and discounted daily and monthly fixed-route passes. The county was awarded a grant of $3.747 million which requires a 10 percent local match for a total project of $4.164 million. The total anticipated cost to provide transportation disadvantage service is $6.732 million. The county is required to overmatch $2.568 million to maintain the program at its current level. The required local match and overmatch are included in the proposed FY-2021 budget

Conveyance – Commissioners authorized the sale of a small vacant parcel of county-owned property in unincorporated Jupiter to Jeremy Stauffer for $5,000. The .06-acre parcel is unbuildable and serves no present or future county purpose. Mr. Stauffer was the highest bidder among adjacent property owners.

SHIP — The board approved a budget amendment of $370,738 to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund budget to recognize a funding increase to the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) program grant award. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation recently awarded the county an additional $370,738 in SHIP funds for Fiscal Year 2019-2020, increasing the total allocation from $1,494,822 to $1,865,560. These SHIP funds are to be used to implement various affordable housing programs and other related activities. These are state funds that require no local match.

Roads — Commissioners approved on first reading and to advertise for public hearing on July 14 amendments to the county’s Five-Year Road Program. A mid-year modification of the Five-Year Road Program is required to be considered each year.

Caron of Florida — The board approved the issuance of revenue bonds in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $52.803 million for Caron of Florida, Inc. to finance construction, installation and equipping of a new medical and detox facility at 4675 W. Linton Blvd. in Delray Beach and the acquisition and renovation of Fairways on the Green, a residential facility for extended care treatment services to individuals suffering from chemical dependency, sexual trauma and gambling addiction located at 2045 Lowson Blvd. in Delray Beach. The new facility will add 114 full-time equivalent positions. The existing Fairways on the Green facility will retain 100 employees. The project’s five-year economic impact is estimated at $262.9 million. No county funds nor its taxing power, faith or credit are involved.

Highridge Family Center — Commissioners approved a work order to the annual heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) contract with Farmer & Irwin Corp. in the approximate amount of $300,000 to replace two chillers at the Highridge Family Center. The existing chiller units are more than 10 years old with corroded coils and are at the end of their useful life.

Fire Rescue— The board agreed to rename a rule in the comprehensive plan that requires three personnel aboard every Fire Rescue truck in honor of Ron Jarriel who was instrumental in getting the safety measure in place. The retired county firefighter and former Loxahatchee Groves Town Council member passed away in April, 2020.

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