Loxahatchee Groves City Council received an update Tuesday, Feb. 1 on progress in Tallahassee on city funding applications and other local bills.
Legislative Liaison Mary McNicholas informed council that the bills for the North Road Trail and Okeechobee Boulevard. the upgrades have been favorably approved by the Infrastructure and Tourism Appropriations Sub-Committee and are on their way to the Appropriations Committee. Two bills for canal rehabilitation and stormwater repair have been approved by the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Sub-Committee.
“Right now, all four have gone to credits,” McNicholas said.
Another bill to fund the repair of the city’s public works building and a bill to improve roads passed first reading but did not progress as far as the other four bills. .
“The last bill I have is the local bill for the fireworks,” she said. “We had our first reading on this, but Southwest Ranches also filed a very similar bill. We were very smart looking at what Wellington was doing and therefore didn’t want to recreate the wheel.
Wellington’s bill, passed last year, placed restrictions on fireworks in village equestrian areas.
McNicholas said there was potential opposition from the fireworks lobby.
“We are working very hard to get it through the committees,” she said. “There’s a lot of back-channeling going on right now.”
Other bills on the Appropriations Committee docket have only two Committees to pass. She noted that three of the bills were funded last year but were vetoed.
Loxahatchee Groves’ credit requests for 2022-2023 include:
• House Bill 3421, North Road equestrian/multiuse trail. The amount requested from the state is $45,000, with local funds of $50,000 available. This request was funded last year but was vetoed.
• House Bill 3431, rehabilitation of the canal network. The requested amount is $1.1 million with local funds of $368,000. It was funded last year but vetoed.
• House Bill 3427, repair of the storm water system. The request is for $1.8 million with local funds of $1.4 million.
• House Bill 3423 Okeechobee Blvd. improvements. The requested amount is $1.2 million (33.8%) with federal funding of $1,990,991 (56%) available, DOT funding other than the amount above $53,352 (1.5% ) and local funds of $310,000 (8.7%).
• House Bill 3425, rehabilitation of public works equipment facilities. The city requested $800,000 with no local funding.
• House Bill 3429, road improvements. The amount requested is $6,625,920 with local funds of $3,309,780 available. It was funded but vetoed last year.
• House Bill 1425, a local fireworks bill, would seek to create a partial exemption for the city from Florida statutes to allow the city to regulate fireworks in its agricultural residential areas during some public holidays.
“We put a big demand here, and I had recommended that we maybe reduce it a bit,” McNicholas said. “We have six appropriation bills, and that’s over $11.2 million for a 12 square mile area with 3,200 people.”
She pointed out that the bills moving faster are those that have matching funds or are tied to higher priority issues this year, such as water-related bills.
“Two of our water-related articles progressed,” McNicholas said. “It’s a bit of a different year in that, number one, it’s a huge state-level re-election cycle. On top of that, there’s a lot of federal funding coming in, which of course helps us locally, but everyone in the state is also fighting for the same money.
She said if the bills make it to the appropriations committee, they must then go through both houses of the legislature and escape an executive veto after the legislative session ends in March.
“That doesn’t mean every single one of them will get the actual amount that’s up there,” she said.
Funding, if approved, would become available July 1.