We often let you know in this newsletter about what your County government is doing to make your life easier. But there’s another theme running through this newsletter: Broward County is providing you opportunities to help improve your community -- sometimes while saving money.
Some people believe that there is little they can do to affect the world around them, but that’s just not true. The opportunities to affect your lives are everywhere, from voting to volunteerism. Government is just a mechanism that you have empowered to help you make this a better community. But it’s a partnership and we can’t do it alone. We’re trying to do our part; we hope you’ll join us in the effort.
Making Taxes A Little Less Painful
Broward County residents who want to drop off their property tax payments in person no longer have to find a parking place and feed a meter before going inside the Governmental Center to wait on line.
On March 30 and April 2, residents can use a drive-thru payment station in the parking lot of the Governmental Center Annex, 115 S. Andrews Ave., in downtown Fort Lauderdale, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Customers should enter the parking lot from the Brickell Avenue side of the Governmental Center and follow the signs. For your convenience payments can also be made online at any branch of Wells Fargo Bank. To view your taxes or for more information regarding your tax bill, visit broward.org/revenue or call 954-831-4000.
Being a good neighbor in Broward County means keeping an eye on how we use and preserve our natural resources. One way to honor conservation and learn how to use what we have more efficiently is to attend the 10th Annual Broward Water Matters Day on Saturday, March 10, at Tree Tops Park, 3900 S.W. 100 Ave., in Davie.
This free event teaches guests what water resources exist, how water is managed and how we are planning for the future. Residents will receive tips on water conservation, find out about rebates and incentives for upgrading to water-conserving devices and learn how to create “Florida Friendly” and drought-tolerant landscapes.
Guests will also receive free native plants or trees if they check in at 12 or more of the event's 40 exhibits examining water conservation techniques, smart irrigation, native landscaping and what role they play in protecting and conserving our water supplies.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., there will be activities for the entire family including face painting, a caricature artist, crafts for children, rain barrel workshops, the music of environmental folk singer Grant Livingston, and a variety of giveaways and raffles including an irrigation system upgrade. A free electronics recycling drop-off will also be available.
Admission to the event is free, but the park charges $1.50 per person for entry, although children 5 years old and under are free.
For more information on Water Matters Day or water conservation, visit broward.org/watermatters.
Save Money and the Planet
Among the lessons at the Water Matters Day is the fact that many conventional toilets waste immense amounts of water. But County residents can save water and money through the Broward Water Partnership’s Toilet Rebate Program.
Available through October this year, this program offers up to two $100 rebates for buying approved WaterSense certified High Efficiency Toilets that use 1.28 gallons of water per flush or less. Residents also may also qualify to receive free low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators. Pre-rinse spray valves are available for business owners.
To determine your eligibility, visit ConservationPays.com or call 800-270-9794 for more information.
Right now also is a smart time to buy an energy-saving appliance because you may qualify for a different rebate program, thanks to the County’s ENERGY SENSE program, administered by the Natural Resources Planning and Management Division.
Through March 16, Broward County residents and small to medium-sized businesses can purchase a new qualifying ENERGY STAR refrigerator or clothes washer and receive a rebate for $150 or $250 – which may save you up to a fifth of the cost.
This is a repeat of last year’s program when the County handed out more than $180,000 in rebates. More information is available.
Riding the Storm Out
Have you ever wanted to be part of the safety net that warns your neighbors of impending severe weather? The Broward County Emergency Management Division is recruiting residents to join the nationwide network of SKYWARN Storm Spotters volunteers who alert the National Weather Service of severe weather as well as damage from storms.
The first step is for volunteers to undergo training from a meteorologist on Saturday, March 3, at the Broward County Emergency Operations Center, 201 N.W. 84 Ave., Plantation. There will be information for newcomers as well as experienced spotters.
Attendees, who must be at least 14 years old, must preregister by Thursday, March 1. The class is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., but attendees must make their own lunch arrangements.
To register, call 954-249-5343 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I-595 Rolling Along
For all the noise, rush hour congestion and some notable accidents, work is progressing smoothly on I-595, with average monthly travel times reportedly near what they were before the project began, a project spokeswoman reported. All five segments of the ongoing expansion are 40 to 50 percent completed, she said.
Already completed is the westbound I-595 and State Road 84 direct connection ramp to the northbound lanes of the Florida’s Turnpike, plus the “missing link” of westbound SR 84, which allows a driver to go from the east end of SR 84 road to the west without getting on and off I-595. That part of the project was completed one year earlier than originally scheduled.
The major work right now is the construction of the braided and by-pass ramps, to the interchange with Florida’s Turnpike, the three reversible Express Lanes and the continuous connection of eastbound SR 84.
No major long-term road closings are anticipated over the next few months, although some areas may be closed overnight occasionally and some lanes may be closed for short periods.
Continued construction through the summer of 2014 will make it difficult to travel the corridor, although disruptions have been minimal considering how much massive work is underway day and night. The project appears to be on schedule.
You can sidestep the worst problems by being aware of precisely when and where work will be concentrated. An online construction map details land and ramp closures allowing you to plan for detours and additional travel time. Also, watch for information on portable message boards posted along the corridor that give motorists a few days warning about closings.
Staying Young At Art
Pencil it in on your calendar: The eagerly awaited opening of the new Young At Art Museum and Broward County Library in Davie is slated for May 5. The 55,000 square-foot facility at 751 S.W. 121 Ave. will have four exhibition galleries, a National Traveling Exhibition Gallery, a theater, a recording studio, gift shop, café and preschool classroom. For more information, call 954-424-0085, Ext. 27.