Monday, April 13, 2020

Tallahassee budget final - Palmetto Bay and other local governments need to get ready to get back to business. Budget prep time is coming up. What did Palmetto Bay and surrounding areas receive from Tallahassee to assist in the upcoming budget year? Let’s deal with some non-Coronavirus news for a change of pace

How Palmetto Bay fared with the 2020 Florida Legislature: 

No better, no worse than neighboring Pinecrest and Cutler Bay. Pinecrest appears to have $150,000 in the budget for stormwater. Palmetto Bay has $100,000 for stormwater. Cutler Bay has $100,000 in the budget for the Cutler Bay Wetland Restoration Project (HB 3757). All contingent upon survival of the Governor's line item veto. 

Palmetto Bay may receive $100,000 out of the $3.2 million requested: For Palmetto Bay, out of the $3,245,900 requested, there is a paltry $100,000 in the budget, or barely over 3% of what was being sought. But, this $100,000 is $100,000 more than made it into the budget at this time last year (2019).  This post updates the legislative mid-term post of February 20, 2020 and closes out the 2020 regular legislative session. There has been no definitive word yet as to whether or not there will be any special sessions to address Coronavirus or other issues. 

Please be mindful that nothing in the budget is final until the Governor signs the budget (after any line item vetoes). The Coronavirus pandemic may trigger many line item vetoes, removing some of those items initially thought to be safe in the budget.

The grading process: In evaluating the possible success for this legislative session, we start with the original 2020-2021 appropriation requests from Palmetto Bay officials totaling $3,245,900. This is an enormous  request, an amount of money  that appears worthy of significant travel and constant advocating in Tallahassee, but not the final drop to the $100,000 total that is currently earmarked in the State budget. There was brief talk of another $125,000 for an education center placed in State Education Funding, but that $125,000.00 was a drop in the budget to the total project cost for Palmetto Bay taxpayers – $745,900 was the original funding ask from the State. The claimed local contribution was proposed to be $1,500,000 for a project optimistically estimated in 2019 dollars to be $2,245,900 (and this request was voted in favor of by a vice mayor who has been critical of Palmetto Bay’s “million dollar hotdog stand”). Note there has never been an operational plan – coverage for operation and maintenance, costs of personnel, even considered by Mayor Cunningham and Council before requesting the money for this potential boondoggle.

Revenues - but factor in costs to obtain: Also note, the $100,000 is the appropriation, but there were significant costs related to the playtime in Tallahassee for Mayor Cunningham and company. These taxpayer funded costs include a full time employee grant writer (salary, benefits, internal costs such as office and other employee related costs are at least $70,000 per year), apportioned time of the Deputy Manager for her time spent in set up, preparing for, travel and ongoing communication (I have been told this is valued in the $30-50K range) as well as other personnel in preparing for and traveling with (and without the elected) locally and in Tallahassee. Add in what I am told (but have not personally seen evidence of) a last minute no-bid hire of $10,000 for undefined lobbyists, and it appears that it would have been far cheaper to spend our money locally and not seek money in another recent losing effort in Tallahassee, especially when the elected were distracted in Tallahassee which may be a reason they took their attention of the moratorium, allowing it to expire. Long story short – what did Palmetto Bay taxpayers put up to receive the $100,000?

One does not have to travel and shelter in Tallahassee to follow legislative requests. Many projects approved where hometown grassroots projects.

Status of appropriations in Budget – making it into the budget to be submitted to the Governor:
     Made it
   into budget                                                                                                                                   Midterm February 20 figure
    600,000  Deering Estate Foundation’s Field Study Research Center Phase 2 (
HB 2627)   250,000  
    100,000  Cutler Bay Wetland Restoration Project (
HB 3757)                                                    100,000
    150,000  Homestead Automatic Flushing System (
HB 3165)                                                    150,000
    100,000  Palmetto Bay Sub-Basin 61 Construction (
HB 3461)                                                  100,000
      ZERO    Nature Educational Center (Coral Reef Park) (HB 3809)(Details)                            125,000
    150,000  Pinecrest Stormwater Improvements (HB 3807
)                                                        100,000

Some did improve from the February report: Team Deering Estate worked hard and raised their number from $250k in February 2020 to an impressive $600,000 in the final legislative budget approved by the legislature on March 18! Otherwise, the numbers for the sampling of local projects listed above February 20 stayed the same.

Many local items did not hold their place. An example is the Coral Reef Park Nature Center, hidden in an educational portion of the budget at $125,000, but was cut to ZERO.

FINAL WORDS / IMPACT UPON PALMETTO BAY BUDGET(S): The $100,000 for stormwater improvements will move into the Palmetto Bay FY 2020-21 budget where it will be matched with $100,000 of Palmetto Bay tax revenue in order to support $200K in stormwater projects.

No comments:

Post a Comment