Another big project I have been working on these past few months is in conjunction with the Florida League of Cities. I sit on the Utilities, Natural Resources and Public Works Committee and this past November during the Legislative Conference the committee, and then the League as a whole passed a policy statement on water supply and water quality. I am proud to say that I was part of the subcommittee that drafted the majority of the language that was ultimately passed.
Why is this important to Tamarac? In a condensed version, here is why.
Currently, in the State of Florida, each municipality or county is in charge of the water projects that impact their residents. Unfortunately, water projects cost a lot of money, sometimes in the millions of dollars, which is usually more than a city can afford on its own.
This causes the city to do one of a number of different things to come up with the needed funds. A city can go to their voters and ask for a bond referendum. This can be difficult to pass and may not be a good option for distressed cities. A city can also go through the process of applying to the state for funding. Unfortunately, the current system in Tallahassee pits city against city with no real criteria and with the result being that the cities with good lobbyists and political clout get the dollars. This system is known as member projects. I personally know of one city that has been applying to the state for at least 15 years to replace their outdated water system to no avail.
Additionally, there is no statewide comprehensive plan for water projects as there is with our transportation plan. In my past life as a legislative aide, if my member wanted to know what transportation projects were in the 5-year plan for a specific area, I could call the Department of Transportation and get that list. There is no equivalent for water projects.
The language crafted and passed in November is asking for both the creation of a comprehensive plan and to find a better funding mechanism for the projects.
I thank you for allowing me to update you on these two important projects.
As this is my final newsletter for 2018, I wish you all the best this holiday season and the very best for 2019.