September 16, 2014

community portrait

Palm Beach County

Kravis Center for Performing Arts
The Kravis Center for the Performing Arts opened in West Palm Beach in 1992.

Health

The county’s population ranks worse than the national average in the number of people who are overweight; in the number of people who are linguistically isolated; in the number of family physicians per 100,000 population; in the incidence of melanoma and HIV; in the fetal death rate; and in the number of homicides.

It ranks above the national average in terms of the number of people getting vigorous physical activity; in the number of people who are obese; in the number of people who smoke; in the number of dentists per capita; in the number of women over 40 who get mammograms.

Cost of Living

Traditionally, home prices have been the biggest factor in the county’s high cost of living. But the median home price has fallen recently to $238,600, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.

Tax Burden

Palm Beach County ranks 12th in the state in total taxes levied per capita.

Schools

An “A” graded district, the K-12 school system, with nearly 170,000 students, features a number of magnet and other programs, including a well-regarded Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program (STEM) started in 2004-05 at Boca Raton High. Among 24 traditional high schools with FCAT grades during the 2008-09 school year, there were eight “A” schools, six “B” schools, four “C” schools and six “D” schools. The district, under superintendent Art Johnson, has attempted to boost standards with curriculum changes and increased use of standardized tests that were not well received by many teachers and parents and led to the demotion of the academic officer who had designed and attempted to implement the changes.

Government

The county’s political scene is still bruised after three county commissioners and two West Palm Beach city commissioners were sent to prison on corruption charges. Officials have pushed for a package of ethics reforms including an inspector general and ethics commission. Meanwhile, the county has maintained its AAA bond rating and is implementing a number of green and energy-saving initiatives, including a waste-to-energy plant, a methane recovery system at a water plant that converts methane to electricity for on-site use and solar-powered street lights and warning flashers.

Notable: A number of non-profit organizations have partnered with the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties to create a “digital public square” — YourPBC.org — a social media experiment that the groups hope will promote civic engagement and help forge connections among the county’s municipalities.

Why I Live Here

Lou Frazer I was born and raised in Palm Beach County — in 1959 at Good Samaritan Hospital, to be specific. Life in this county has been perfect for me and our family. Growing up in Delray Beach, we spent countless hours at the beach. It was simply safe, beautiful and a great place to socialize and learn about the environment. The ocean is cleaned by the Gulf Stream current, and the underwater life is unbelievable. After high school, I attended college in North Carolina. One day in the middle of winter, when my car was encased in ice, I decided right then that I would never live north of where palm trees grow. I finished school in Tallahassee, moved back to Palm Beach County and raised two “surf rats” who now have a great appreciation of the ocean and the world around us. The climate and the community relationships that one builds from being local just can’t be beat. I love it here.

— Lou Frazer

Tags: Treasure Coast

Digital Access

DIRECT DIGITAL ACCESS
Add digital to your current subscription, purchase a single ditgital issue, or start a new subscription to Florida Trend.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
An overview of the features and articles in this month's issue of Florida Trend.

ACCESS THIS ISSUE »

Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

SpaceX's Elon Musk really wants to colonize Mars
SpaceX's Elon Musk really wants to colonize Mars

If it wasn’t already apparent that SpaceX CEO and Telsa co-founder Elon Musk is one of today's more ambitious visionaries, let's remember: he wants to build a city on Mars.

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

This week, there could be the largest IPO in global financial history when internet giant Alibaba debuts on the NYSE. Will you bite?

  • Ali-who?
  • I am thinking about it
  • Yes, looking forward to it
  • No, not interested

See Results

Ballot Box
Subscribe