“I like to see civic engagement,” Mayor Scott Singer said as more chairs were set up for his town hall.
This is the fifth year for these get-togethers, Singer said at the Downtown Library. “I’m glad to see young people. Our city is getting younger.”
“We’re well located, and low taxes….are driving businesses here,” Singer said.
The city’s greatest job growth is in information technology, “part of our DNA.”
“I see some former IBMers here,” he said about the firm’s large workforce here in the ‘60s and ‘70s. “Now it’s time for Boca 3.0.”
Here’s some questions and Singer’s answers from that session.
Q: When will the Camino Real bridge open?
A: It is not a city project and I have been frustrated, too. The third week of July, possibly second week of July. This is a county project
Q: Do we have a secure Internet?
A: Rivera Beach has Ransomware. We have done a great number of things. We have strong protocols, safeguards, backups, we’re up to date. Our latest licenses protect vulnerabilities. We have insurance against cyber attacks.
Q: What does the city manager do?
A: We have a council-manager form of government. We set policy direction. Leif Ahnell acts as the city’s CEO. We’re the board of directors. He’s a CPA and a sound fiscal manager.
Q: What’s the status of Brightline?
A: They’re a privately owned high-speed rail. Brightline originally said no. I have reached out to Brightline. Nothing concrete yet.
Q: What’s new with the Sears complex at the mall?
A: The store closed and Sears’ current owner Seritage put in preliminary plans for hotel and restaurants. That hasn’t come to city council yet.
Q: Is the city helping to build up and beautify Pearl City and other low-income communities?
A: Pearl City and Dixie Manor. There’s a master plan for beautification. I don’t have specifics. I want to see a revitalization. Reinvesting in Pearl City is essential.
Q: When will El Rio Phase II be done?
A: This will be the city’s 47th park. It will open in November on the south side of 18th Street.
Q: What about the Alina development and more traffic?
A: The slingshot lane turning onto Mizner Boulevard will become a hard right. We’re enhancing lighting, putting in flashing beacons and connectivity to Royal Palm as well.
Q: What are city’s financial reserves and are we over reserved?
A: There’s some misinformation. The answer is no. They’re important for our fiscal rating. We’re able to borrow at a very low rate. We rarely borrow from them. We by law have to have balanced budgets.
Q: What about climate change and the risk of rising water?
A: We’re at ground zero. Our office of sustainability is now focusing on the shoreline, restoring and elevating seawalls. We have 30 or fewer homes with septic tanks. We’re collaborating with other government entities.
Q: What about Camino Square?
A: Only a certain number of units are allowed downtown and we’re getting close to that cap. The development offered $2.1 million in offsite improvements including improving that intersection at Camino and Dixie. That was a significant factor.
By Marci Shatzman