Commissioners receive Fla. legislative update
A pair of lobbyists representing Lee County during this year’s legislative session in Tallahassee gave a presentation to county commissioners Tuesday that was filled with warnings of dire financial times ahead.
Keith Arnold, who acts as the county’s general lobbyist, said this year’s session was one of the worst he has seen.
Facing a current budgetary shortfall of $12 billion, Florida could see things get even worse in future budget cycles as federal stimulus dollars are being spent unwisely, according to Arnold.
He said the federal funds are being used to plug budget holes with no regard for future need.
“The Legislature spent non-recurring dollars on recurring programs,” Arnold said. “They are digging a hole they cannot maintain for the next fiscal year.”
The state budget picture directly affects Lee County’s budgetary shortfall.
Lobbyist Sarah Bleakly spoke about two bills that have been on commissioners’ radar, and will directly affect Lee County revenue streams.
House Bill 227 puts the burden of proof on governments when it comes to impact fees.
Senate Bill 360 extends the life of building permits by two years without consent from local government.
Commissioner Tammy Hall was particularly vocal about the actions of the state Legislature.
She said legislators often talk of the barriers that exist between state and local government, but they are now guilty of creating those barriers.
“All of this legislation puts a burden and time frame for things not to move forward,” Hall said. “It’s kind of tongue in cheek … they’re creating barriers.”
While commissioners seemed pleased with Tuesday’s presentation, it did little to quell their fears that Lee County has been left in the financial lurch.
“Where does this leave us in Lee County, and what can we expect?” Commissioner Frank Mann asked.