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Local officials address key issues with Legislative Delegation

By Staff | Dec 15, 2009

Representatives from local governments, private entities and community organizations shared their priorities for 2010 with the Lee County Legislative Delegation on Tuesday.
Legislators were asked to consider a variety of issues at a meeting at Edison State College, from opposing unfunded state mandates in a tight budget year to protecting local waterways by standing against offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
Support for flexibility in dealing with the state’s Class Size Amendment, for amending Florida law to allow disabled voters to use touch-screen machines for an extra four years and for recognizing pre-platted communities and the challenges they face was also requested.
Cape Coral Councilmember Bill Deile explained that the ability to sit down with state-level representatives and exchange ideas on what is important to the local community is important. At past delegation meetings, lunch breaks have provided a perfect opportunity for one-on-one discussions, he said.
“When you’re sitting next to someone at a lunch table eating a sandwich, you can break down that formality barrier,” Deile said.
According to official documents, the city of Cape Coral’s 2010 legislative priorities include:
— Opposing legislation that creates unfunded mandates, legislation that fails to protect the need of municipalities or legislation that assault Home Rule authority;
— Opposing legislation that will not protect a municipality’s ability of local code officials to secure blighted structures and place liens on the properties for reimbursement of monies spent to mitigate;
— Opposing legislation that attempted to preempt cities and counties from enacting and enforcing ordinances, resolutions and rules which will require the holder of a mortgage lien on property, to maintain, secure or protect the property prior to foreclosure;
— Supporting legislation that will require a municipal charter school facility to receive its proportionate share of educational impact fees required to be paid in connection with new residential dwelling units assessed by any government entity;
— Supporting legislation in recognized pre-platted communities as communities that face challenges other communities do not, and legislation that provides a mechanism that will help them overcome challenges;
— Supporting legislation that will provide resonable procedures for adjusting the boundaries of municipalities through annexations of enclaves.
For Deile, the Cape’s top priority is supporting legislation that acknowledges the unique obstacles pre-platted communities encounter.
“The one that we’ve continued to work on is the special needs that a pre-platted community has,” he said, adding that officials have been unsuccessful so far as related legislation.
Cape Coral Mayor John Sullivan spoke Tuesday before the delegation and expanded on the city’s legislative priorities.
“We need to be able to secure vacant abandoned properties and to address blight issues quickly and proactively. This is for crime prevention and to ensure we stay on top of properties before neighborhoods become blighted,” he said. “By maintaining the ability to secure then attach liens to try to recover our costs, we can continue to address these issues.”
Sullivan also expanded on the city’s support for little inference from the state in terms of a municipality’s ability to self-govern.
“Cape Coral would like to see policies that allow cities to govern themselves with minimal interference from the state and not policies that impose arbitrary caps on items such as property assessments, municipal expenditures and local revenues,” he said.
Fort Myers Mayor Randall Henderson echoed that, asking legislators to be sensitive to restricting measures and a one-size-fits-all mentality.
“That’s not practical in the way we govern across Florida,” he said.