As we close the series on Boca Raton and Delray Beach local races, today we hear from Delray Beach's Seat #4 candidates. Last week we posed the same eight questions to all the candidates. On March 11, 2014, Delray Beach voters will be able to decide between Jordana Jarjura, Victor Kirson, Angeleta Gray and Pamela Brinson for city council, seat #4. Yesterday we covered the seat #2 race for Delray Beach's city council. Kirson, Gray and Brinson did not have the courage to answer the questions, and we respect Jarjura's response.
1) Are you in favor of business licensing laws and ordinances?
2) Do you feel the Delray Beach Police Chief should focus and prioritize the department's efforts on crimes where there is an actual victim or continue the way things are?
Jarjura: Delray’s police philosophy is Community Policing. They respond to all calls for service with very few exceptions. This is the level of service that we have asked for over the years and have come to expect interacting with our police as needed/desired. The police do assign more resources to the highest crime areas and puts our police on the street in the neighborhoods where their presence is more needed to discourage criminal activity but the entire City is covered. I recently did a police ride-along and was very interesting to see how the officers worked in concert with each other. I do think that certain issues have been a drain on our police resources and should be handled by code enforcement or a similar enforcement agency (i.e., loitering, parking tickets). I also think we need to ensure adequate staffing during certain times and in certain locations. As the city continues to grow in density, population, etc., if the size of our police force does not increase we might have no other choice but to only respond to criminal acts involving an actual victim and away from the community policing we have grown to expect and rely on.
3) Would you like to see more gun control in Florida, do you feel we have the right mix of laws concerning firearms or do we need to repeal some laws to be more in compliance of the Second Amendment?
Jarjura: It is not an issue which is in the purview of the City Commission.
4) Do you feel a small business in Delray should be able to operate the way they see fit or should city, county, state and the federal government come in to dictate how they should run their business.
Jarjura: I wish businesses would not need to be regulated and I am against overregulation. That being said, there are bad actors that abuse the privilege of doing business in our City. Certainly, where public safety is impacted, appropriate regulation is necessary.
5) There currently is free WiFi in downtown on Atlantic Avenue. Are you in favor of making Internet WiFi available to the entire city if paid either by the private sector or by the city? If paid by the city, would you favor raising any taxes to pay for the service?
Jarjura: The purpose of the WiFi canopy over the Atlantic Avenue portion of the downtown was to encourage businesses to relocate there and take advantage of that offering. Additionally the Education Commission of PB County assisted in providing a WiFi canopy in our NW/SW neighborhoods to create equity for all of our students. Beyond that I do not see further expansion as a priority at this time.
6) Do you favor corporate welfare? This is the method of giving tax breaks to companies that stay or relocate here in exchange for creating a certain number of jobs to the city.
Jarjura: It depends on the industry/company/location in our town. Clearly a vibrant local economy is critical to our community’s vitality and sustainability. Going forward, Federal Highway, Linton Boulevard and Congress Avenue need to be redeveloped with appropriate low impact commercial and office opportunities to support the residential development and transition appropriately to adjacent residential neighborhoods. Class A office space in our Downtown is an important part of that as well as providing an appropriate mix of desired uses on West Atlantic and Linton Boulevard. One of my goals is to try and attract high paying, low impact jobs to our City, but to do so my preference would be to sell our City’s quality of life, public/private partnerships and strengthening our local schools rather than tax breaks. If I did support such tax breaks it would need to be for a highly unique opportunity with significant economic impacts and high-earning job opportunities, and it would be only on a very limited basis.
7) How, if at all, do you feel taxes could be reduced for residents and businesses in Delray over the next 3 years?
Jarjura: We need to run a more efficient government staffed with and led by individuals who are fiscally responsible and recognize residents are customers who deserve respect and representation. We need to identify non-taxing revenue generating opportunities and cost saving measures to further relieve the tax burden on our residents. While as a City we have certain limitations due to our tax base, we have not been running efficiently which has negatively impacted the budget.
I do not support additional fees or assessments on our tax-payers. I support real zero-based budgeting, a full top to bottom review of vendor agreements and expenses, and a streamlining of city hall processes to save tax dollars. We must look for ways to reduce the cost of delivering municipal services and to improve/create non-taxing revenue generating opportunities.
This was the first year in some time where our millage rate actually dropped slightly – mainly due to a rise in property values and the $1.5 million reserve monies used to balance the budget. Our millage rate is high in comparison to our neighbor to the South, Boca, because we have certain innate limitations with regards to our commercial base and values of our residential property. We need to find ways to make our hard costs predictable and more efficient so we can reduce our millage rate without using reserves as we did this past year to offset the reduction or negatively impacting the essential services we provide.
One area that we have lost millions of dollars in missed revenues or increased costs is in our procurement and purchasing departments. We need to respect our procurement system and contract City business consistent with law so we cast as wide a net as possible during the public bidding process and get the best, most qualified vender and price for our City. Vendors and contractors will not waste time and money bidding in a City that does not respect the public bidding process, and it is to our detriment to not utilize the public bidding process. We should also look at opportunities to become true partners with some of our vendors; it is a missed opportunity for the City not to participate in profit-sharing on certain government contracts.
8) Are you in favor of red light camera use in Delray?