As indicated in the sequencing and phasing report prepared by Keshavarz and Associates, the Town considered initiating a town-wide effort to underground its overhead utilities in 2006. It was ultimately determined that a town-wide project was not feasible at the time but a neighborhood by neighborhood approach would be more appropriate. This approach was optional and only pursued at the collective request of the neighbors through a petition process requiring at least 67% approval of the affected property owners. Since then, Via Fontana and Everglades Island have successfully buried their overhead utilities and two projects are currently in the design phase: Nightingale/La Puerta and Lake Towers.
The Via Fontana project area was completed in 2011. The total cost financed was $224,672 for four (4) parcels. The Everglades Island project area was completed in 2013. The total cost financed was $685,625 for fifty-four (54) parcels.
Due to the fact that the Town has decided to pursue town-wide underground there is now a moratorium on new neighborhood requests.
The Town of Palm Beach has utilized the special non-ad valorem assessment process, as enumerated in Florida Statute 197.3236, for the two neighborhood projects identified above, as well as the streetscape projects on Worth Avenue and in the 400 block of Peruvian Avenue. The law allows the town to initiate the assessment process for town capital projects the Town Council deems appropriate for the assessment process or for neighborhood capital projects desired by residents to be undertaken by the Town on their behalf.
Cost to the Property Owner
As stated earlier, this is a capital project assessment process. This means, among other things, that the benefiting property owners are charged for their share of the cost of the work. This process results in the share of the project costs being placed on annual property tax bills, but it is not a tax, it is an assessment. The property tax bill is simply a billing mechanism the town uses to avoid creating a separate internal billing and collection function to handle payments.
The Town of Palm Beach reserves the right to select the manner in which property owners will be charged for the cost of the proposed capital project. Baring unusual circumstances, the billing mechanism to be utilized will be the uniform method for levying, collecting and enforcing non-ad valorem special assessments as authorized by Section 197.3632, Florida Statutes. As such, charges to property owners may appear on one’s property tax bill for up to 10 years or more. This billing mechanism is subject to change in the sole discretion of the Town Council.
Capital assessment projects requested by residents are only constructed pursuant to industry and/or town standards. The final actual costs incurred by the town are the basis for what a property owner repays to the town regardless of any cost estimate provided in association with the project.