PALM BAY — City Manager Gregg Lynk painted a rosy picture for Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce members recently when he whisked through an overview of the city’s recent successes.
“Palm Bay is thriving and has a very bright future,” Mr. Lynk said. “When I first got here, I don’t know if I could say that.”
Some of the challenges Mr. Lynk faced three years ago when he left the private sector to work for Palm Bay included a residential community with little to no growth, lack of a commercial base and neglected infrastructure.
One of his “marching orders” from the City Council was to make the city a business-friendly environment.
Speaking predominantly to business community members during the April 4 Chamber of Commerce meeting, Mr. Lynk referred to the city as a business.
“Palm Bay as a corporation is worth $3.7 billion,” he said. “We have to take care of it and grow it.”
In 2015, Lynk and city staff members set a three-year goal of $320 million in new development with 20 percent of that coming from commercial growth.
“We met that goal and surpassed it,” he said.
As of March 2018, $541 million had gone through the city’s growth management department with 20 percent of that being commercial.
The city also refinanced $35 million of its debt, which resulted in a first-year savings of $800,000. The money was used to purchase new police cars.
“Over the life of the debt, the city will save $8 million,” Mr. Lynk said.
Additionally, the city is looking at an annual savings of more than $1.2 million after the strategic reorganization of the city attorney’s office in which several outsourced programs such as risk management and worker’s compensation were brought in-house.
He addressed the change last year to the city’s stormwater funding program, which was “plagued by collection problems” with millions of dollars outstanding.
“Now it’s on the tax bill and we have 100 percent collection,” he said.
A sign of the stormwater program’s success, Mr. Lynk said, is that Garvey Road north of Jupiter Boulevard will open soon. The city will then move on to the much-needed stormwater system repairs on Nevada Drive in northeast Palm Bay.
The city has earmarked $55 million to expand water and sewer services in the city to accommodate new development.
Mr. Lynk breezed through a list of planned developments in all quadrants of the city including a 340-unit apartment complex on RJ Conlan Boulevard, as well as a residential and commercial development near the recently opened St. John’s Heritage Parkway in northwest Palm Bay.
“We want people to live, work and play in Palm Bay,” Mr. Lynk said.
To speed up the permitting process for developers, the city is investing in e-permitting, which is expected to bring quicker approval and would allow developers to schedule inspections through a simple text message.
Developers pay an impact fee to the city because of the impact their developments have on roads, infrastructure and parks, and Mr. Lynk said the impact fees alone for a project in southeast Palm Bay called Emerald Lakes are expected to be $82 million.
“That’s how a city gets healthy,” he said.