The 11th annual State of the Village Address on Wednesday, Oct. 23, had as its theme “Charting a New Course,” which seemed to hint at a new direction now that previous issues such as the Palmer Trinity School expansion have been resolved.
The evening began with a reception in the promenade in front of Village Hall at 6 p.m. that lasted for an hour, featuring wine and hot hors d’oeuvres and a chance for attendees to mingle. The event attracted an estimated 150 people, down from last year’s 250, after threatening weather. It also was simulcast via live-streaming video and on WBAY Channel 77, which allowed many residents to view it from home.
Following the reception the event moved inside to the Council Chambers for the formal address. The traditional Presentation of the Colors was done by the Miami-Dade Police Department Honor Guard, and the National Anthem was sung by Priscilla Carlo, a sophomore at Palmer Trinity School.
Village officials attending included Vice Mayor John Dubois, council members Patrick Fiore, Tim Schaffer and Joan Lindsay; village manager Ron E. Williams, village clerk Meighan Alexander, village attorney Eve Boutsis and other staff members.
Williams gave the welcome remarks and introduction, and the sponsor welcome was presented by Sherelle Washington, the regional director of Baptist Health Medical Plazas.
Mayor Shelley Stanczyk began by thanking Baptist Health South Florida for their generosity and support through the years. Then she commented on the input from residents on various issues.
“Winston Churchill once said, ‘The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people,’” Stanczyk said. “I’m sure that my fellow council members, dedicated public servants sitting here before you, have come to understand all that quote implies. Our decisions are not always easy to make, and, while we may not always agree, there is no doubt that we all serve with great conviction.”
The mayor introduced the council and staff members, as well as members of her family, and thanked the departing village attorney, Eve Boutsis, for her years of service.
Stanczyk mentioned property values in the village, a lack of private investment in the commercial sector, and the recovering economy, stressing the positive.
“Palmetto Bay has maintained through conservative fiscal management the same low millage rate of 2.447, the sixth lowest tax rate in the county, for the past six years while continuing to provide excellence in services and maintain our assets,” the mayor said. “At the end of last fiscal year, we had a very healthy reserve account of approximately $13 million. Additionally, our conservative approach resulted in an operating surplus of $1.5 million.”
Stanczyk said that village leaders need to focus on the revitalization of Palmetto Bay’s commercial sector, because that will generate more revenue and help keep residential property taxes low. She spoke of the work of the Downtown Redevelopment Task Force in that regard, and introduced a 10-minute video explaining the role of the task force.
She also mentioned the Education Compact recently entered into with Miami- Dade County Public Schools.
“For over a year, our five-member board of dedicated parents and former educators met, together with school district staff Lubby Navarro, to draft and finalize a document that defines the collaboration that will exist between our village and our public schools,” Stanczyk said. “We remain committed to doing all we can to improve the quality of education of our children, our future.”
Stanczyk praised the efforts of the Village Policing Unit and their accomplishments, the ongoing work of the Parks and Recreation Department staff, and the work done by the Building Department in processing approximately 4,000 residential and commercial permits. She also mentioned the impact made by the Planning and Zoning Department and other key staffers.
Mayor Stanczyk concluded her address with a final word to residents.
“Charting the course is our theme tonight, but, more specifically, charting your course is our goal every day,” Stanczyk said. “We appreciate all of the support, and constructive criticism that we hear from all of our residents. Keep it up — your opinions, ideas, and suggestions matter greatly to us. Our future is bright. The state of our village is sound.”