As we slip into summer, I’m proud of many things we on the Broward County Commission have accomplished on your behalf during the past few months. Top of the list is approving a 911 system that improves the safety net protecting you in emergencies. It’s only one of several steps large and small we’ve taken, a few of which we’ll highlight here. But each is an effort to make a better life for all of us. This summer, we begin the task of creating a budget for the coming fiscal year. Please volunteer advice to help the commission make decisions that fit your vision of what you want this county to be and practical ways to get there. We hope you have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.
Finally, Regionalizing Our 911 System
Years of efforts are finally paying off to create a countywide 911 emergency communications system that will not only be less expensive to operate, but will significantly improve the quality of service.
The county commission voted this month to repair the fractured 911 network as residents insisted in 2002 when they voted to change the County Charter to create such a system.
The new network will consolidate the 911 call centers across the county into a coordinated web that will greatly reduce misrouted calls for help beginning next year. It also will save an estimated $10 million a year when fully operational. Shepherding a solution has been one of my priorities for several years.
Besides saving money, a crucial benefit will be reducing the amount of time that EMS, fire and law enforcement need to respond to calls.
Achieving a lasting answer has involved significant cooperation and discussions among area officials. I co-chaired the Consolidated Communications Committee to investigate solutions. Those proposals were evaluated by an independent group of municipal and public safety officials. They recommended a county-run, property-tax supported answer.
When the system is completely operational in two to three years, Broward residents and visitors will benefit from a less expensive and markedly safer system.
Change A Child’s Life
People dream of being able to do something concrete that we know makes a difference. An opportunity exists to make an incalculable affect in the life of children alleged to be have been abused, neglected or abandoned.
The 17th Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program needs volunteers to advocate for the best interest of children. Trained and appointed by the dependency court, volunteers spend time with the children, then communicate with the adults in the child’s life such as teachers, therapists, caregivers and family members. During court proceedings, the volunteer provides the judge with vital information about the child, and with an understanding of the child’s wishes.
The job takes an average of 10 to 20 hours per month to change a child’s life forever. To become certified in the program, a volunteer meets with staff for an interview, undergoes a criminal background check, and takes about 30 hours of free training available for during the day and evenings, weekdays and weekends in downtown Fort Lauderdale or Plantation.
To learn more, call Hal Tannenbaum at (954) 831-7590 to learn more.
Update: FEMA’s Delay on Flood Maps To Save Insurance Premiums
Since 2010, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been revising maps identifying areas with high risk of flooding. It’s a tool used by insurance companies to calculate premiums. Proposed maps released last summer determined nearly 75 percent of the homes in District 5 have a reduced risk of flood – meaning your insurance rates would decrease.
Unfortunately, the federal process has moved slowly. The map was discussed in hearings last fall and several people appealed the maps’ depiction of where severe floods might occur. Those appeals have been underway for months because federal laws set no timeline.
The Broward County staff has been pressing the federal government and FEMA now hopes to have a finalized map early in June. The next step will occur during the following six months: The county commission and every municipal government must approve the map before the documents can be used to change insurance rates. Those six months must elapse no matter when those approvals are voted on. That means the maps would not go into effect and be used by insurance companies until November at the earliest. We will keep you updated regularly with information about what stage the process is at and when the maps will be completed.
To see the maps as they were originally proposed, visit broward.org/Regulation/Engineering/FloodZoneMaps/
Look Before You Lock
One of the most preventable tragedies is a child dying of heat stroke when locked in a vehicle. The Broward County Commission with the Early Learning Coalition and Children’s Services Council are campaigning this summer to reduce what is the leading cause of death other than accidents among children under 14. As inconceivable as it may seem that someone might leave a child in a car, Florida is fourth in the nation for the number of such deaths.
The first effort is a public awareness campaign called Look Before You Lock, reminding parents that they should develop a habit of checking their car before leaving it for any reason. One tip is to put a child’s toy in the front seat within your field of vision as a reminder. Tri-lingual fliers and stickers will be distributed to parents through child care facilities, doctors’ offices, libraries, etc.
The commission’s second initiative is a new ordinance aimed at protecting the thousands of Broward County children enrolled in child care facilities.
Beginning in July, any vehicle owned by a child care facility that transports six or more children must now be equipped with an alarm that sounds a minute after the driver turns off the engine and leaves the van, if the driver does not turn it off. The alarm, which can be heard outside the vehicle, reminds the driver to check whether any child has been left behind where they might succumb to heat stroke. The alarm button is located inside the van at the back so the driver must pass through the seating area to turn it off.
For more information and resources on keeping children safe in cars, call 2-1-1 or visit www.cscbroward.org
Caring About Animals
The county’s Animal Care and Adoption division regularly offers money-saving services that ensure the health of your pets and the welfare of the pets in our community.
Dogs and cats can benefit from a one-year rabies vaccination and registration tag for only $15 at the next clinic slated for Saturday, June 8, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Plantation Heritage Park, 1100 S. Fig Tree Lane.
Separately, some owners of pit bulls or pit bull mixed breeds can have their dog sprayed or neutered for free as part of World Spay Day program this spring if they meet the low-income requirements.
The first 500 owners who are eligible can receive the service free. Other low-income residents can have their dogs or cat “fixed” for as little as $10.
For more information, call (954) 359-1313 or visit broward.org/Animal/ProgramsServices
As summer approached, we have begun crafting the fiscal year 2014 budget. You can monitor workshops meetings as department heads make recommendations and you can have your own say at two public hearings.
The workshops are open to the public and can be viewed live at broward.org/Video Central. Those workshops at scheduled for 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. June 4; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 18, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 20.
The public hearings will be held Sept. 10 and 24.
Visit the Office of Management and Budget’s website for the latest updates including locations.