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2020 Parks Bond - Frequently Asked Questions

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Overview

What is the Parks Bond?

The City issued a 20-year bond in the year 2000 that provided $20 million for park upgrades throughout the City that were completed as part of the City’s Park Master Plan. The repayment of that bond issuance expires in September of 2020.
 
Twenty years later, many of the City’s parks are again facing critical needs to replace playgrounds, improve lighting, resurface parking lots and trails and install infrastructure that would allow for enhanced community amenities and greater activation of parks. The City desires to complete the construction, improvement, renovation, equipping and furnishing of some parks and recreation projects (see below) and desires to issue general obligation bonds to fund these parks and recreation projects in an amount not to exceed $30 million.
 
On November 18, 2019, City Commissioners gave preliminary approval to a bond referendum election in conjunction with the regular municipal election on March 17, 2020.

During the December 2, 2019 meeting of the West Palm Beach City Commission, the 2020 Parks Bond Referendum was approved unanimously by the City Commission. As a result, this initiative will be presented to voters in conjunction with the regular municipal election on March 17, 2020. If approved, the issuance of general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $30 million would facilitate widespread improvements and renovations to the City’s many parks. Additionally, the Parks Bond Referendum would be repaid from ad valorem taxation. It would not be an additional tax or fee, as property owners have already been paying a parks bond, which expires in September of 2020.



 

Why is the Parks Bond Needed?

The West Palm Beach park system is made up of nearly 60 public parks, providing community members with hundreds of amenities. Examples of these amenities include playgrounds, walking trails, sporting courts, athletic fields, recreation centers and much more. These resources periodically require renovations and/or replacements due to their regular “life expectancy,” natural wear and tear from daily use and constant exposure to the elements (steady sunlight, rainfall, heat, etc.) As the City’s population grows there is also a need to add additional park infrastructure and amenities to keep up with demand.

 

 
What Benefits Would the Parks Bond Provide?

The new funding would allow the City to execute large-scale upgrades and enhancements to its parks. These include new playgrounds, walking and exercise trails, outdoor fitness equipment, athletic spaces, increased lighting, shade structures, renovated restrooms, community center improvements and ADA accessibility improvements.

 

Why are These Improvements Necessary?

Well-maintained parks contribute to a city’s overall value and add vibrancy to neighborhoods and improve quality of life. Making these necessary renovations is vital to keeping our City’s properties at optimal values. Additionally, the equipment in many of our parks are nearing the end of their “life expectancy,” making replacement a more cost-effective solution when compared to ongoing repairs.

 

How Will These Improvements Impact Our City?

West Palm Beach has established a tradition of making parks a priority for residents and visitors. Parks help connect individuals of all ages by providing activities for active lifestyles and healthy communities. The goal of the new parks bond is to allow our City to continue providing these safe, recreational spaces to further develop the camaraderie and close-knit neighborhood feel that starts in parks.

 

What Prompted the City to Consider the Need for a Bond Referendum Now?

Through the public engagement component of the City’s 2015 Parks Master Plan, residents identified numerous improvement opportunities to our already existing structures. With the current parks bond referendum sunsetting in 2020, a replacement parks bond would allow us to address these findings.

 

What Parks Will This Bond Benefit and How Were They Selected?

The following parks are included in the 2020 parks bond:
  • Alice Mickens Park
  • Blum Park
  • Brian Chappell Park
  • Coleman Park
  • Currie Park
  • Dreher Park
  • Echo Lake Park
  • Fogelman Park
  • Gaines Park and Community Center
  • Howard Park and Tennis Center
  • José Marti Park
  • Lake Mangonia Park
  • Lincoln Park
  • Osprey Park
  • Phipps Park
  • South Olive Park and Tennis Center
  • Sunset Park
  • Vedado Park
  • Village Paws Park
  • Warren Hawkins Aquatic Center
DRAFT Park Projects for Referendum 2020
Park name Estimated Cost Improvements District
Alice Mickens Park $400,000 Repair basketball court, replace playground and swings
create ADA access and walkways
3
Blum Park $500,000 New playground and swings, improved lighting, repair
tennis court and fencing
1
Brian Chappell Park $600,000 Replace playground, replace walkaway and ADA access,
repair/replace seawall
1
Coleman Park $380,000 Replace playground and swings 1
Dreher Park Master Plan $150,000
5
Dreher Park $300,000 Destination Playground - boundless 5
Echo Lake Park $200,000 New playground and swings, improved lighting 1
Fogelman Park $250,000 new playground and swings, new paths and ADA access 1
Gaines Park Comm. Center $3,000,000 Community Center expansion and renovation 1
Gaines Park $600,000 Tennis, basketball court repairs, pathway repairs, fencing
and lighting
1
Howard Park Tennis Center $2,500,000 Total rebuild to hydro courts, new fence and lights 5
Howard Park $80,000 light playground and walkway to playground 5
Jose Marti Park $100,000 Removal of concrete walls, repair walkways - ADA 3
Lake Mangonia Park $150,000 Bathroom renovations 1
Lincoln Park $350,000 Additional field lighting, fitness station, shade, seating 4
Osprey Park $500,000 Replace walkways, new playground and swings, replace pavilion, replace dog park fence.   1
Phipps Park $400,000 Repair Tennis Courts, replace playground, improved lighting at handball, ADA walkways 5
Phipps Park Baseball $1,300,000 Replace concessions and bathrooms, replace walkways 5
Phipps Skate Park $300,000 Reconfigure ramps and update 5
South Olive Park $240,000 Replace playground and ADA walkways 5
South Olive Tennis $2,000,000 6 Court conversion to clay - lighting, fencing PHASE 2 5
Sunset Park $200,000 Replacement playground and swings 1
Vedado Park $150,000 New Playground and swings 5
Village Paws Park $200,000 New entry and parking 2
Warren Hawkins Aquatic Center $1,250,000 Rebuild swimming pool and locker rooms to meet swim meet regulation size 1
Waterfront Playground $150,000 Playground/fitness 3
Currie Park $8,000,000 Renovations, improvements, based on community input 1
Contract Engineer - Project Management $750,000 $150,000 for 5 years ... includes vehicle, office space, etc.
Park System Wide Upgrades  $5,000,000    
Total Estimated Costs $30,000,000

 

 

Residents and subject matter experts were consulted on what aspects of public parks are critical and should remain priorities.

What is the Total Capital Cost of the Projects?

After analyzing the needs of each of our parks, we have estimated that roughly $25 million in park improvements is needed.

FINANCIALS

What is a Bond?

A bond is a loan to a company or government for a pre-determined use, which is then paid back with interest over an agreed upon timeframe.

Why Does the City Issue Bonds to Pay for City Projects Rather Than Pay for Projects with Cash?

The City cannot fund the capital needed for a project of this magnitude with cash on-hand, so more fiscally-responsible options are considered.

Don’t My Tax Dollars Already Cover These Needs?

Your current property taxes cover the costs of daily maintenance and operations for city parks, but do not cover capital improvement costs. They also contribute to your city’s police and fire departments, and other essential services.

Does This Mean I’ll be Paying Additional Taxes?

Once approved, a parks bond is paid off within 30 years. If the new parks bond were approved, residents would be paying the same amount they paid last year and less than what was paid prior to that for the past 20 years, meaning the only change seen would be the upgraded public parks.

How is the debt service millage rate calculated? 

Millage is the tax rate used to calculate your ad valorem taxes. One mil equals $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s taxable value. For example, the existing millage rate for the City’s park bond debt service is .1202, therefore you are paying twelve cents in property taxes for every $1,000 of your taxable property value. For the median priced home of $243,000 within the City that amounts to $29.21 per year($2.43/month). For debt service, the millage is a function of the required annual payment and 95% of the City’s property value. 

Will the debt service millage rate be the same every year?

The current bond proposal is to retain the same amount citizens paid last year, if not reducing it.

What are the Authorized Uses of Bond Funds?

All proceeds collected by the parks bond are allocated to specific projects identified in the official bond statement.

How Will This New Parks Bond be Paid Off, and How Long Would It Be in Effect?

The bond will be paid-off within 30 years from inception through a special millage included on your annual tax bill. 

Is the City Eligible for State or Federal Funding for the Projects?

While the State currently does have a small granting opportunity through the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP), this program has received little to no funding from the State over the past several years.  If the State decides to increase investment in the FRDAP, we would match the program contributions with the bond funds to maximize your tax dollars and complete additional park improvements.

NEXT

If the Referendum is Approved, What Happens Next?

An oversite committee for the bond will be established, which would spearhead community engagement opportunities for the parks that will be receiving upgrades.

When Would Construction Expect to Begin?

Once the volume of work is determined for each individual park, renovations will commence within one to five years.

ACCOUNTABILITY

How Will I Know Bond Projects are Being Completed and Funds are Being Used Properly?

The City will have a section on its website dedicated to showcasing project progress.  Additionally, the oversight and parks and recreation advisory committees will be responsible for the accountability of the funds and status of the projects.

ELECTIONS

How Can I Find My Polling Place?

Your polling place is determined by your home address. To find your precinct, visit www.pbcelections.org/Voters/Precinct-Finder.

QUESTIONS/COMMENTS

Who Do I Contact if I Have a Question or Comment About the Parks Bond? 

For questions, suggestions or feedback regarding this initiative, please contact the Office of Community Engagement at (561) 822-1200, or the Parks And Recreation Department’s administrative office at (561) 804-4900 TTY 800-955-8771.