Art Koski Asking for $120,000 Fee for Ocean Breeze Sale

Art Koski claimed that buying the former Ocean Breeze golf course would be good for Boca Raton. Now, Koski wants it also to be good for him.

The executive director of the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District negotiated the purchase price of $24 million. Whenever critics complained that the roughly 200 acres were worth less, Koski defended the price. The district board backed him up.

Now Koski wants a $120,000 fee for his work on the sale—one-half of 1 percent of the price. Obviously, if the price had been lower, the fee would have been lower.

More importantly, why does Koski deserve any fee at all? The district is already paying him to be the agency’s attorney—on top of being executive director. That’s a position Koski took on a supposedly interim basis six years ago. Until recently, he also served as the district’s project manager. Combined, those positions paid him well into six figures. Sweet deal. Meanwhile, he maintains a private law practice. His cases include one against the city for approval of Chabad East Boca.

Under the agreement between the city and the district, the city is underwriting the bonds to finance the Ocean Breeze purchase and the district is reimbursing the city for the annual payments. Koski’s fee, if he gets it, would come from the district budget. City residents, however, also pay the district’s property tax. So anyone in the city and west of Boca Raton to the Florida Turnpike would pay.

Koski’s request surprised Mayor Susan Haynie and the rest of the Boca Raton City Council. Late last week, Haynie sent a letter to Bob Rollins, the district board chairman, asking him to “confirm” that the fee would comply with county and state ethics rules.

“If it wasn’t legal, we wouldn’t be doing it,” Rollins told me Sunday. But why should Koski get a fee based on a sale that he negotiated as part of his work for the district? “ I see the optics of that,” Rollins acknowledged.

I will have more on this in my regular Tuesday post.