The Real Deal Miami

Assessment may pay for utility burial in Palm Beach

Advisory panel says special assessment should pay for $85 million project
Palm Beach is set to spend $85 million to bury all of its electric, phone and cable TV lines

Palm Beach is set to spend $85 million to bury all of its electric, phone and cable TV lines

An advisory panel recommended that Palm Beach pay to bury electric lines and other utilities throughout the town with a special assessment tax instead of an adjustment to property tax rates.

In a 5-2 vote, the town’s Underground Utilities Task Force recommended that the town council choose to use special assessments to repay borrowed money from a revenue bond issue to pay for the burial of electric, telephone and cable television lines throughout Palm Beach.

The board decided in a separate vote to make a request for a judge’s validation of its recommended methodology for determining special assessments.

Tom Bradford, manager of the Town of Palm Beach, said the project would cost an estimated $85 million, would take 10 to 12 years to complete, and could enter the construction phase of development as early as next year.

The two dissenters on the Underground Utilities Task Force, Wilbur Ross and Susan Gary, want the city to issue general obligation bonds to pay for the utility burial project, which would be repaid with property tax revenue and would qualify Palm Beach property owners for income tax deductions.

The special assessments could appear as a separate line item in Palm Beach property tax bills as early as November 2016. [Palm Beach Daily News] — Mike Seemuth