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August 28, 2014

Deerfield budgets for higher health care costs in coming year

With next year’s budget in the formation stage and the benefits of 360 employees etched in contractual stone, Deerfield Beach’s city manager wants to revamp the health insurance plan for city employees.
Because the city plan is self-funded, the premiums and co-pays charged of employees, plus the city contribution, must cover the expenses incurred by plan members.
In the next year, however, the city is budgeting an increase in the budget line for employee health insurance in anticipation of an increase in health insurance claims of $1.057 million. At the same time, property values – and property tax revenues – have dropped 27 percent from their peak four years ago.
To resolve the dilemma in a way palatable to taxpayers and plan members alike, Deerfield Beach’s city manager, Burgess Hanson, has hired a risk analysis manager, Will Reed.
Reed said the city health plan is a type of “Cadillac Plan” and subject to the Affordable Care Act’s 40 percent excise tax effective in 2018.
According to one analyst, the 40 percent tax is expected to effect as many as 75 percent of health plans if they are not restructured, which is what Reed was hired to do.
“The city was grandfathered in under the Affordable Care Act but now we [are losing] our status and therefore we have to follow all the rules,” such as covering wellness visits and preventative care, Reed said.
Reed proposed replacing the plan in January 2016 with a three-tiered plan offering varying levels of coverage at varying prices. Recognizing that it is hard medicine to swallow, Reed plans sessions with employees beginning this month to lay out a solid, statistical argument supporting the change.
Under the three-tiered plan, the cost of providing health care will now be shared more equally with employees.
Changes begin in January, when office visit copays will increase from $10 to $25. Specialists copays will rise from $20 to $60. The maximum out-of-pocket for a family will double, from $1,500 to $3,000.
“That’s a significant increase for the employees,” said District 4 Commissioner Bill Ganz. “It is a tremendous change.”
“We have tried to be as gentle as we can,” Reed said. “But the numbers are so large, we don’t really have a choice.”

The city has set public hearings on the proposed budget for 6:45 p.m. on September 3 and September 15. Both are at city hall, 150 N.E. Second Avenue. For information, see, or call 954-480-4200.


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Deerfield to work with non-profit to convert foreclosures to affordable housing

With no shortage of abandoned and foreclosed properties in Deerfield Beach, the city now is working with a nonprofit group to convert several properties into affordable housing.
The Broward Alliance for Neighborhood Development is a 14-year-old nonprofit group that already is transforming houses in Hollywood, Sunrise, Plantation and unincorporated Broward County. The company added Deerfield Beach to its list this month.
The group won a $500,000 contract from the city to buy and renovate up to three of the 21 city-owned properties that are in foreclosure, using federal funds, local contractors and its expertise.
When the houses are finished, the nonprofit then makes them available to low-to-moderate income households. There is one caveat: Buyers must be pre-qualified. To be pre-qualified means graduating from an eight-hour class offered by a Housing and Urban Dvelopment-approved housing counseling agency covering everything from how to develop a budget to understanding various savings instruments. They also would have to be pre-qualified for the loan to be entered into the lottery for a house.
“Once a house has reached substantial completion — the rehab is done, we’ve done the final permits — we host an open house ... “ said Bonnye Deese, the group’s executive director since 2012. “Each family can go by and see the house and, if they are interested, issue a letter of intent to buy the house with proof they have been prequalified.”
“Our families are low- to moderate-income buyers, and we don’t want to give them a sad sack house where we put a little lipstick on it and say, ‘Here is your new house,’ “ Deese said.
For more information on the Broward Alliance for Neighborhood Development, visit or call 954-581-9899.


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Local Authors to Celebrate Library's 40th at Literary Event

Further evidence that South Florida’s literary talent extends beyond Ernest Hemingway can be found this Sunday when the Deerfield Beach Historical Society gathers more than 25 local authors to celebrate the Broward County Library System’s 40th anniversary.
“August Authors and Autographs,” from 2 to 5 p.m., is a “Sundays at the Butler House” event. It reflects the August anniversary of the library system with a used book sale, ice cream social and concert — and more than two dozen local authors, all of them published and all of them award-winning.
“I just solicited authors on Facebook and through the historical Society web page,” said Historical Society board member Emily Lilly. “Much of it was word of mouth.”
Deerfield Beach resident and author Sally Ling is among those autographing and selling books at this free event.
Known as Florida’s History Detective, Ling is the author of historical nonfiction and historical fiction for children and adults. She specializes in the untold stories of Florida’s history and in Biblical mysteries with a Florida setting.
She will have her latest two books, “The Cloak” and “The Spear of Destiny,” as well as previously published “Small Town Big Secrets, History of Boca Raton” and “Run the Rum In.”
Lilly said participants were registering as late as Aug. 21.
“I got a new one in this morning – a pastor at Christ Church United Methodist Church in Fort Lauderdale,” she said last week. “He’s written a book that relates our intake of food to … the meals of Jesus that sustain our minds and our souls.”
The Butler House, the former home of Deerfield Beach pioneer and farmer James D. Butler and his wife, Alice, is the headquarters for the Historical Society. To encourage participation in historic preservation and in the Historical Society, the group has organized a series of events designed to draw visitors to the distinctively mint green house at 380 E. Hillsboro Blvd.
On Memorial Day, veterans groups honored the various branches of the military with a flag-folding and a 21-gun salute. At Christmas, Santa heard the whispered wishes of a long line of children in a house decorated with vintage ornaments.
Admission to “August Authors and Autographs” is free, with proceeds from the sales of food, gifts and mementos benefiting the Historical Society.


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August 9, 2014

Daughters of the American Revolution dedicate marker; Hillsboro Inlet Light Station now a national monument


Historic preservationist Hib Casselberry, 91, preserves the moment Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society worked hard ot realize, as the Daughters of the American Revolution and marble marker designate the Hillsboro Inlet Light Station a monument of national significance.

Wearing lighthouse pins, shirts printed with lighthouses and, in one case, a hand-made sun dress printed with lighthouses, more than 120 historic preservationists gathered in Pompano Beach recently, to add their beloved Hillsboro Inlet Light Station to a national register of historically significant sites.
“I’d like to thank the City of Pompano Beach for being such a staunch supporter of our endeavors,” said Art Makenian, an engineer, and president of the Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society, . The past commander of Coast Guard Flotilla 36 in Boca Raton, Makenian recruited a group of retired engineers and one retired physician to dismantle and renovate the massive lens long before the Daughters of the American Revolution decided to put it on a national map. “I want to assure you,” he added, “the light still comes on every night.”
Last year, the Lighthouse Point chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution honored HLPS past president, Hib Casselberry with a historic preservation medal for the 16 years he spent promoting the historic significance of a structure rendered virtually obsolete by the invention of global positioning system.
This year, the 91-year-old Pompano Beach resident was on hand with his wife and partner in lighthouse preservation, Martha, and with DAR members from as far as Pensacola, as President Kim Zeman took the honor to the next level.
Pulling the red-white-and-blue bunting from a bronze and marble marker was the easy part, Zeman said. Adding the 108-year-old Hillsboro Inlet Light Station to the nation’s list of historically significant sights was the greater challenge.
“You have to prove everything you write on the plaque—source all the data, get three historic preservation experts -- three people to certify that what we said was correct,” she explained. “Then we send it into national and they review and decide if it meets their standards.”
All told, the project took a year – and some editing. “It was longer,” she said of the text. “We revised it several times and it still is two paragraphs – which is quite long for a marker.”
Even a marker designed to endure.


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August 7, 2014

Registration under way for Second Annual Miss ARC Broward Pageant

ARC Broward, a not-for-profit human services organization providing services to children and adults with developmental disabilities, is accepting contestant applications for its second annual Miss ARC Broward Pageant.
The two-day event celebrates girls between the age of six and 17 with disabilities. It will be held at 5 p.m. November 17 and 18 at the historic Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale.
"After the incredible success of the inaugural Miss ARC Broward Pageant last year, we are thrilled to announce we are accepting applications for the second annual Miss ARC Broward Pageant." said ARC Broward President/CEO Dennis Haas. "In addition to building self-confidence, this pageant is an opportunity to showcase the capabilities of these amazing girls."
Parents can enter their daughters into the pageant by submitting the electronic application online at . Only 20 qualifying applicants will be selected, and the deadline for applications is Friday, August 22. To qualify, applicants and parents/guardians must meet criteria outlined on the aforementioned webpage.


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About the Reporter

Elizabeth Roberts has covered Deerfield Beach, Lighthouse Point and Hillsboro... < More >

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