By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – The City will hold its bimonthly Regular Commission Meeting at 4PM tomorrow (Tuesday, July 21st) virtually, and is available via live-streaming to the public. The Commission will review the proposed budget adjustment, as well as a number of other ongoing and pressing issues.
Perhaps the most anticipated discussion is the review of the mid-year budget adjustment, and a net shortfall of approximately $4.25 million according to a staff report by Marie Kalka, Finance Director. Staff will request to amend the adopted FY19/20 budget to account for changes necessary since its adoption in September 2019.
Delray Beach Mayor Shelly Petrolia wrote in a statement yesterday morning, “Like every city in the country, Delray is faced with pandemic-related drops in expected revenue and unplanned expenses.”
“In recent one-on-one meetings, Interim City Manager Jennifer Alvarez and Finance Director Marie Kalka informed the City Commission of a $4.5 million shortfall in the current budget,” Petrolia said. “This number was actually somewhat of a relief, since City Manager George Gretsas had projected an $8-$10 million impact.”
Adding, “Alvarez was able to further reduce the shortfall by about $2 million when she requested department cuts across the board. The City Commission will be tasked with determining how manage the remaining gap in expected revenues.”
City Attorney Lynn Gelin is also looking for direction regarding a request from George Gretsas for indemnification by the City. A lawyer for Homestead Concrete & Drainage claimed “disparaging remarks” were made by Gretsas in his role as City Manager, indicating $1,000,000 in damages will be sought if he does not issue a written retraction.
Also related to the Mr. Gretsas and the City’s ‘intent to terminate’ his employment, is the request for the Commission to approve the employment agreement for Interim City Manager Jennifer Alvarez. On June 24th the Commission voted (4-1) to appoint Alvarez for an unspecified term, despite her not holding the job before.
The agreement with Ms. Alvarez includes an annual salary of $189,500 and a $500 per month car allowance. The Agreement also provides for Ms. Alvarez to return to her position as Purchasing Director of the City of Delray Beach whether by her own choice or the City’s choice with thirty days’ notice.
A number of other items are on the agenda, including a motion to renew the agreement with APTIM Environmental and Infrastructure, Inc. for Coastal Engineering Consulting Services in the amount of $500,000 for three years. The Delray Beach Shore Protection Program consists of the design, permitting, construction and monitoring of approximately 2.6 miles of shoreline.
The meeting is set to run for two hours, from 4PM to 6PM, and the agenda has been published online on the city’s web site. The agenda includes direction on joining the video stream as well as submitting comments.
Any resident can comment on any matter by leaving a voicemail message that will be played during the meeting, and made a part of the public record.
This is the City Commission’s sixth regular meeting since the coronavirus closures, and while the technology has enabled virtual sessions, for some residents it is less accessible.
The recent surge in COVID-19 cases may delay the return of face-to-face sessions, however Palm Beach County commission is meeting in person.