Delray Beach Government Affairs & Economic Development Updates February 2023

Dear Chamber Members,

As you are likely aware, we are in the middle of heated election season in our beautiful Village by the Sea, Delray Beach.  Along with two commission seats are up for election (seats 2 & 4), you will notice on your ballot that we are voting on two general obligation bonds.  As is typical with ballot language, you are provided with a summary of the issue you are voting on.  In the case of these general obligation bonds that we are voting on, the language allows us to have general idea of what we are voting for, but there are some questions that may need to be answered.

First and foremost, what is a General Obligation Bond? A general obligation bond is a loan secured by the City’s ad valorem tax revenues (aka taxes on your residence).  General obligation bonds are typically sought to make improvements to our community.  To fund a general obligation bond, real estate taxes typically go up to the extent needed to pay back the loan.

This March 14th, you will see the following general obligation bond referendums on the ballot:

  1. $100 million Public Safety General Obligation Bond to renovate the police station, ocean rescue headquarters and fire stations 111, 112, 114 and 115 located throughout the city.
  2. $20 million for Park Improvements to enhance Catherine Strong Park and various other parks across the city including adding a covered practice field, covered basketball courts, walking trails, splashpad improvements, staff and meeting room facilities, and restroom and lighting improvements.

Both referendums may be worthy causes, but the details regarding the budget and timing have yet to be disclosed. And, if we are going to be on the hook for payment, it is important to know what we are paying for, so that we can make an informed decision.

What we do know about these general obligation bonds is that the interest rate for 30-year financing is at 4.25%, which is significantly higher than bond interest rates dating back just a few years ago, due to changes in market condition.  We also know that for every $250,000 of your home’s taxable assessed value, it will cost you $107 annually for the public safety bond and $22 annually for the park improvement bond. This number however is not fixed.  The more Delray Beach grows, the more we can spread the cost among other homeowners.  Also, as the city retires older bond debts, the cost will likely go down. Inversely, in a real estate recession, our costs related to these bonds would likely go up.

On Feb 23, 2023, at 6pm, our city is having a Town Hall meeting at The Fieldhouse at Old School Square (51 N Swinton Ave, Delray Beach, Fl 33444) to provide our city residents with more detailed information regarding these general obligation bonds.    For those of us who have not yet voted through the mail in ballot, this meeting may provide us with the information we need to be able to make an informed decision.

The Feb 23rd meeting is a great time to hear and ask the important questions as to exactly how the funds will be spent and what we can expect to see.

Some of what we are looking forward to learning about includes:

  • Is there a detailed budget to support the funding?
  • Is there a breakdown of the improvements, renovations, and development that these funds will pay for?  If so, does it include new construction, new locations for services, new technologies or capabilities?
  • Is there a business case/rationale for these expenses and is the timing right for these projects considering interest rates are higher than they have been?
  • What is the city’s plan for managing these projects alongside the other big projects that are currently being managed?  Do we have the bandwidth for all these projects to occur simultaneously?
  • What would the potential impact be to taxpayers if a real estate recession were to occur?

We encourage you to attend the Town Hall meeting to have your questions answered.  And please come out and vote this March 14th.  Your vote matters.

Please click on the link below to see the sample ballot:

To find out where to go to vote, please visit:

If you would like to learn more about the candidates running for the two commission seats, please follow the link below which directs you to our last Friday Govt. Affairs Committee, at which we hosted a candidate forum.  You will hear directly from the candidates on some of the issues that are most important to our community.

Candidates Forum:

The Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce Advocacy Committee looks forward to continuing to keep you informed on the issues that are most important to our business community.