A look at government action around the Gulf Coast
Utility project off again
CAPE CORAL — A proposed $77 million utility expansion was voted down by the City Council 4-3 on Aug. 31. Affecting about 6,200 residents, the project would have provided water, sewer and irrigation utilities costing about $17,000 for an average two-lot parcel. Tens of thousands of lots are only served by wells and septic systems in a city with 350,000 lots. The council has changed its vote five times in the last year, ultimately deciding that economic conditions warranted deferring the project to a future council. The primary election for three council seats and the mayor's seat is Sept. 15.
Gambling deal signed
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist signed a compact Aug. 31 on behalf of the state with the Seminole Tribe of Florida worth an estimated $6.8 billion over 20 years authorizing Class III gaming on tribal lands within the state.
The compact now goes to the Legislature for ratification during the October special session. The first $150 million payment would be due Dec. 1, 2010 while the final payment of $501.9 million would be due Dec. 1, 2029.
Crist had signed a different deal in 2007 that was voided by the Florida Supreme Court for exceeding the governor's authority. Other features of the proposed deal include: revenue sharing with a minimum 12% revenue share payment to the state and limiting expansion to Broward and Miami-Dade counties only.
Port impact fee study
MANATEE COUNTY — The County Commission has accepted a report outlining how road impact fees might be reduced in the Port Manatee Encouragement Zone. The Renaissance Planning Group prepared the report, which found that road impact fees for port-related development could be cut in half for certain uses. A developer would have to petition for the reduction and provide an independent impact fee analysis to justify a reduction.
Unemployment trust fund in red
TALLAHASSEE — The state's unemployment trust fund is drained. The fund was down to $65 million by the end of June, forcing the state to arrange borrowing from the federal government to pay unemployment claims. The state is authorized to borrow $300 million in August and $310 million in September. Employers will be paying more into the fund, under a plan approved by the Legislature this spring, but less than some legislators wanted imposed.
Land buys shrinking
FLORIDA — The governor and cabinet have approved a new land buying priority list without any new money to pay for it. The $22 billion in projected cost for two million acres is part of a five-year wish list for the Florida Forever program, the country's largest environmental lands purchase program. In past years, about $300 million a year was going into purchases, but a tight budget year forced cutbacks in the program. The state has authority to borrow up to $250 million and could issue $150 million in bonds to purchase lands by late fall. In the meantime, the state is still able to make about $84 million in purchases with funds remaining from last year.
The Charlotte County Commission holds its first public hearing on the budget at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, in Room #119 of the Administration Center, 18500 Murdock Circle in Port Charlotte. For more information contact Linda Angelo at (941) 743-1551.
A joint regular meeting of the Charlotte County Commission and the city of Punta Gorda is at 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 11, at the same location. For more information contact Marie Pecorella or Jo Ann VonderMuehll at (941) 743-1944.
The Murdock Village Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Committee's regular meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 14 in Room #106B at the Administration Center.
The University Area Enterprise Zone Development Agency will meet at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8, at the University Square Mall, 2200 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa. For more information, contact Lynn Schultz, Hillsborough County Enterprise Zone Coordinator, (813) 914-4028, ext. 62010.
The Hillsborough County Agriculture Economic Development Council is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9, at the Hillsborough County Farm Bureau Offices, 100 S. Mulrennan Road, Valrico. For more information, contact Stephen Gran, Agriculture Industry Development Manager, (813) 272-5506.
The County Commission will conduct its first budget hearing at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8, in the 5th Floor Assembly Room, Pinellas County Courthouse, 315 Court St., Clearwater. For more information call (727) 464-3485.
The Lee County Port Authority meets Sept. 14 at 9:30 a.m. at 15924 Perimeter Rd., Fort Myers.
The City Council is holding a preliminary budget hearing from 5:15-8:30 p.m. Wed, Sept. 9, in the Council Chambers, City Hall, 2200 Second St., Fort Myers.
The county attorney's office will be presenting an informational workshop at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8, in the County Commission chambers on the third floor of the W. Harmon Turner Building, Collier County Government Center, 3301 E. Tamiami Trail, Naples.