By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – The City will hold its bimonthly Regular Commission Meeting at 4PM today (Tuesday, June 16th) virtually, and is available via live-streaming to the public. 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.
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.
An item on the agenda that Delray Beach Mayor, Shelly Petrolia, has commented on social media about is a contract with a new Union for the Battalion and Division Chiefs. “This is not the Fire Fighters Union for the rank and file,” she said. “These Chief positions currently pay an average salary of $120,000 annually and are considered management positions.”
Explaining further, “Salaried employees in general are not paid overtime as the salary takes into consideration working more hours than a 40 hour work week.” She added that the contract was negotiated absent city commission representation or city labor counsel representation.
Also on the agenda, a ‘Motion to Approve Special Counsel for Legal Matters Related to Workers’ Compensation Claims’, filed by City Attorney Lynn Gelin. This comes after the commission approved hiring an internal auditor position, which was reignited amidst questions regarding the $136,300.56 payout for former Delray Beach Fire Chief Neal de Jesus who resigned during an investigation of sexual harassment claims.
To that end, there will be the ‘Motion to approve Internal Auditor Services Agreement with Dr. Julia Davidyan.’ The Agreement calls for Dr. Davidyan to serve as the City’s Internal Auditor for an indefinite term at the rate of $160/hour. Work performed by other administrative staff of the firm would be billed at the rate of $80/hour.
Another item is the awarding of a contract with Community Greening Corp. in the estimated total amount of $195,504, which is budgeted in Fiscal Year 2020. It was noted as time sensitive in order to meet the established completion date, which is important to meet the goal of planting 10,000 trees in five years.
Community Greening also just won the Impact 100 Palm Beach award, and received a $100,000 grant to run a program that helps put trees in neighborhoods with a low tree canopy and educate youth.
Also on the agenda for today’s Regular Commission Meeting is the approval to observe ‘Juneteenth’ on June 19th as the celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. There is also a motion to declare June as LGBTQ Pride Month.
City commissioners are also expected to discuss extending the current ban on new sales of CBD products for another six months. Last year in July, the commission approved an ordinance which prevents new businesses from applying for permits to sell CBD products. Under federal law, CBD products with less than one percent THC are legal.
An agenda item that was expected to draw controversy, was the 100 Gleason Street residence under construction on the barrier island, which was asking for a forth story. Mayor Petrolia, explained two weeks ago when it was first on the agenda, “the home being built has a rooftop structure intended for human occupancy, which is not permitted under current rules.”
Rita Ellis, a Trustee for the Beach Property Owners’ Association (BPOA), on the Executive Board and chair of Government Affairs for the Beach Property Owners’ Association (BPOA), wrote in a statement. “The BPOA strongly recommends that the Commission deny the appurtenance approval for 100 Gleason St.”
Ellis was notified on Saturday that “the application was pulled from the agenda,” however it is still on the agenda published as of 8AM this morning. The BPOA is a non-profit organization of property owners and residents who ‘are dedicated to the concerns and quality of life in the area situated east of the Intracoastal Waterway’ in the city of Delray Beach.
This is the City Commission’s fourth 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 slow the return of face-to-face sessions, however the City is awaiting County and State decisions on Phase 2 reopening.