Thursday, October 27, 2016 - Volume 2 Issue 8

Greetings,

As we wind down the month of October, we approach the end of a busy election season. For that reason, it is important to focus on a few things that will be coming up on this November’s ballot. Specifically, I want to bring your attention to the Surtax Questions and the State Constitutional Amendments. This year Broward County residents have more options than ever to Vote Early or Vote By Mail. This newsletter also includes a few fun and exciting news items from County Government.

South Satellite Booking Facility Reopens in Hollywood, Keeping More Cops on the Streets in South Broward




The Hollywood Police Station has a Satellite Booking Facility, which was closed several years ago due to budget cuts. Thanks to the hard work of the Police Chiefs in Hollywood, Hallandale Beach, Pembroke Pines and Miramar in cooperation with the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the County was able to help fund a plan where officers and deputies will be able to drop off arrested individuals at the Hollywood Police Station.

During the years when this facility was closed, officers and deputies in South Broward would have to drive their arrestees all the way up to the Main Jail in downtown Fort Lauderdale. During rush hour traffic, it could take hours to drive up to the Main Jail, process the booking and drive back. I don’t think it’s fair for our residents in Hollywood, Hallandale Beach, Pembroke Pines, Pembroke Park, West Park and Miramar that they have fewer officers on the road each time an officer or deputy has to make an arrest. Reopening the satellite facility at the Hollywood Police Station will allow officers and deputies throughout South Broward to get back on the road after making an arrest, which helps keep everyone safe.

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King Tide


Photo Credit – Sun Sentinel
“If standing in this water on a beautiful South Florida morning doesn’t tell us that it’s time we start investing in environmental infrastructure to protect our communities, then I don’t think anything will,” said Deutch. - NPR affiliate WLRN

I want to thank Congressman Ted Deutch and Dr. Colin Polsky of Florida Atlantic University’s Florida Center for Environmental Studies Charles E. Schmidt College of Science for organizing a tour of the King Tide in Fort Lauderdale.

King Tide events happen each year, usually in October, when the position of the moon aligns with other tidal forces to pull massive amounts of water inland. Thankfully, King Tides tend to recede quickly, but they serve as painful reminders that rising sea levels can massively disrupt our way of life.

As we go to vote on a half-penny Surtax to strengthen Broward County’s Infrastructure, we should recognize that today’s King Tide may look like the sea level 30 years from now.

To see FAU’s compilation of the coverage of this year’s King Tide event, please visit.

http://www.ces.fau.edu/news/videos.php

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Recruiting Landlords to Help House the Homeless


On Wednesday, October 19th Broward County’s Homeless Initiative Partnership, in conjunction with several community partners, hosted a breakfast meeting for landlords interested in our campaign to end homelessness. “Housing First” is the philosophy that the best way to assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness, is to get them back into adequate permanent housing as quickly as possible. The sooner a family or an individual can be in an adequate living environment, the sooner they can focus on addressing the other aspects of building a stable life. Makes sense, doesn't it?

One of the challenges we face in our efforts to end homelessness in Broward County is finding enough housing units. We cannot overcome this challenge without landlords willing to participate. It may not surprise you that Broward County has a wide array of rental properties. Even during a time of high demand for rentals, there are more than enough available properties to house every homeless person in this County.


Commissioner Furr talking with landlord and property manager, Frank Johnson at the Landlord Recruitment Breakfast

So what’s in it for the landlord? For one thing, our Permanent Housing programs guarantee the payment of fair market value rent directly to the landlord. Plus, most programs guarantee that caseworkers will assist the individual or family on a regular basis. These caseworkers help their clients with everything from finding and holding a job to managing a household budget.

If you are a landlord with properties to rent, you are invited to participate in the Landlord Recruitment Initiative.

  • As a landlord, you will receive a fair and reasonable rent.
  • Security deposit and last month’s rent are paid up front.
  • Timely rent payments are guaranteed.
  • Tenants are pre-screened and must demonstrate a commitment to achieving self-sufficiency.
  • Families and veterans are pre-qualified.
  • Case managers are available to assist landlords and tenants.

Sign Up Today

For more information on how you can help end homelessness Broward County, contact:

Broward Outreach Center
Rachel Edwards, Housing Navigator
redwards@caringplace.org

Broward Partnerships
Chantel Pierre, Housing Navigator
cpierre@bphi.org
Or you can find more information at www.broward.org/homeless


Commissioner Furr with Chantel Pierre, Housing Navigator with Broward Partnership for the Homeless

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Cultural Arts Literacy Initiative

It was my great pleasure to recently recognize the great work that our County’s art and culture community is doing to support literacy in Broward County. Like many of the literacy initiatives in which I am involved, this work is part of the Broward Reads Campaign for Grade Level Reading. Broward’s Cultural Division is working with 22 organizations to remove barriers for children ages 3-5, who might not otherwise be able to visit these fantastic venues. This pilot program will offer free or reduced price admission to 10,000 children attending one of 100 select early education centers or child care homes located throughout Broward County.


Participating in the program are: Stranahan House; Museum of Discovery & Science; NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale; Young At Art Children's Museum; Old Dillard Museum; Florida Children's Theater; Bonnet House Museum & Gardens; Art & Culture Center of Hollywood; Broward Center for the Performing Arts; Flamingo Gardens; Seminole Tribe of Florida Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum; Old Davie School Historical Museum; City of Hallandale Beach; Miramar Cultural Center; City of Sunrise; City of Pembroke Pines; City of Pompano Beach Parks Recreation & Cultural Arts; Broward County Parks & Recreation; Deerfield Beach Arboretum; and the Broward County Libraries Division and our partners at the Children’s Services Council, the Early Learning Coalition of Broward, KidVision PreK and South Florida PBS, Broward County Public Schools.

Literacy begins at birth. Long before a child enters kindergarten their brain is preparing to learn. The role of conversation in getting the young brain ready to learn to read is without question. The Cultural Arts Literacy Initiative will not only provide admission for the children, but also for the parent/caregiver who will accompany that child on their visit. In addition, the parents or primary caregivers at home will receive support and materials that will lead to great conversations before, during and after the experience they will share at one of the participating venues. Join me in congratulating our participating organizations for choosing to expand their programming to include this audience. Through this initiative we will be strengthening families and promoting literacy in Broward County.

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Broward County Commission Passes a Resolution Encouraging a “No” Vote on Amendment 1

The title of Amendment 1 on this year’s ballot reads, Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice. It was sponsored by a group known as Consumers for Smart Solar, as a competitor to a different Solar Energy Amendment. That other Solar Energy Amendment was sponsored by Floridians for Solar Choice, and it did not gather enough signatures to qualify to be placed on the ballot this year.

Amendment 1 and this other non-Amendment were opposite sides of the issue known as “net metering.” Amendment 1 is anti-net metering, and the other Amendment would have been pro-net metering. So what is net metering?

Net metering is a policy where those who own rooftop solar panels, or any other electricity producing resource, can sell their surplus electricity back to the grid. This means that the utility would have to pay you for all of the electricity that your solar panels produce, beyond whatever amount your house uses. Net metering provides an incentive for more people to install their own rooftop solar panels, just as it provides an incentive to produce more efficient solar panels. Amendment 1 would put language in the Florida Constitution to forbid net metering.

However, there’s a good chance that many of you never heard the term Net Metering in the discussions on Amendment 1. Residents, political organizations, editorial boards and the like have expressed their frustration that Amendment 1 appears to be an Amendment aimed at expanding Rooftop Solar in the State of Florida. Its benign language is not transparent, and the campaign promoting a yes vote does not directly state what this Amendment seeks to accomplish.

It erodes the public’s trust in our government when campaigns or policies seek to deceive the voters. Decisions on policy that face the public should be clear and straightforward, and good ideas should pass on their merits. For those reasons, the Broward County Commission encourages you to vote No On 1.

Amendment 4 – Solar Devices or Renewable Energy Source Devices; Exemption from Certain Taxation and Assessment (PASSED IN AUGUST)

There was a separate Solar Amendment this year that did not deal with net metering. The Florida Legislature proposed its own Solar Energy Amendment, known as Amendment 4. You, the voters, passed Amendment 4 back in August. Amendment 4 stated that Solar Energy Infrastructure on a residence could not be counted towards the assessed property value (for tax purposes.) This was a great idea, and it will go a long way towards making rooftop solar more affordable in the state of Florida.

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Childhood Literacy Initiative School Board Grant

Congratulations to the Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) for being selected as one of only four school districts throughout the nation to participate in a partnership with the Children’s Literacy Initiative (CLI). On September 21st I was part of a kick-off celebration at Plantation Elementary School which included many of our local partners and featured reading activities led by students.

The BCPS and CLI partnership builds upon the vision of the Broward Reads Campaign for Grade Level Reading. I am honored to serve as Co-Chair of this campaign, along with leaders from the Children’s Services Council, Early Learning Coalition of Broward and Broward County Public Schools. The Campaign for Grade Level Reading unites dozens of Broward community partners all focused on the effort to increase third grade reading proficiency for all children, a key indicator in predicting high school completion and lifelong success.

As part of the CLI partnership, seven of Broward County’s Public Schools are receiving personalized, one-on-one teacher coaching, research-based literacy training, books and materials. The resources this grant offers to our public school teachers and to our young readers in kindergarten through third grade, are extensive. CLI was awarded $19.5 million from the 2015 Investing in Innovation (i3 grant) competition from the U.S. Department of Education. Ours is the only school district in the state of Florida selected to participate. The long term benefits of this partnership will extend far beyond the seven schools taking part in this first round of intensive support. Ultimately, what this partnership will yield is teachers prepared to be rock stars of literacy instruction and young people who are not only proficient readers, but who also love to read.

Broward Reads For The Record

On Thursday, October 27th I invite you to take a few minutes to read with children at an early education center or pre-school in our community. “Broward Reads For The Record” is part of the world’s largest shared reading experience. All over Broward County, adults will be reading the same book on the same day with young readers throughout our community. The number of adults who read and the number of children to whom they read is tallied, and we compete for that global reading record that demonstrates our community-wide support for students ready for kindergarten. Our partners at the Children's Services Council will be distributing more than 40,000 copies of this year’s selected book, “The Bear Ate Your Sandwich” to students at participating preschools. Visit the HandsOn Broward website to sign up today. I will be reading with the students at Unity 4Kids in Hollywood. Where will you be reading?


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Broward County Library – Reducing Summer Learning Loss

Congratulations to Broward County Library on the success of the 2016 Summer Learning Program. Research shows that teachers typically spend between four to six weeks re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. During this past summer Broward County Libraries registered 18,500 students, who read 99,938 books between June and August. In addition, our libraries were part of 4,502 summer programs serving 116,873 of Broward’s young people. Great work reducing summer learning loss. Keep an eye out for even bigger and better things happening next summer when the theme will be “Build A Better World”.

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Friends of the Library Week


Commissioner Furr with representatives of the Friends of the Library

The Broward County Commission recognized the week of October 16th through the 22nd 2016 as Friends of the Library Week. The Friends of Broward County Library, Inc. is a volunteer organization, which includes 34 local branch chapters. Their purpose is to serve the community and meet the needs of its citizens by enhancing the library and its services and programs.

Friends groups raise funds that enable the County's library to move from good to great. Thanks to the work of our Friends groups, libraries can find the resources for additional programming, much needed equipment, support for children's summer reading, and special events throughout the year. Most importantly, the Friends' gift of its time and commitment to the library sets an example for all in how volunteerism leads to positive civic engagement and the betterment of our community.

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OB Johnson Park Reopens in Hallandale Beach

The City of Hallandale Beach cut the ribbon on another park this month. OB Johnson Park, named for Oreste Blake Johnson, serves the community in Northwest Hallandale Beach. The County Commission wrote a $100,000 grant to the City of Hallandale to help with the renovation of this park.

I was happy to attend the ribbon cutting, and it deserves repeating that the City of Hallandale Beach has done a phenomenal job with their Park Bonds Masterplan. Parks, like Libraries tend to be the most visible public good provided by local government. When we invest in the things that all of our residents and visitors can enjoy, we aren’t simply cleaning up our property, we are building a stronger community. I was very happy to see that this spirit of building community was visible as the crowd of hundreds took their first look at the new OB Johnson Park.

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Early Voting Starts Monday October 24th

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Find Your Precinct

http://www.browardsoe.org/Election-Information/Precinct-Finder

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Sign Up to Vote By Mail

http://www.browardsoe.org/Voting-Methods/Vote-By-Mail-Voting

Contact Us

Contact Us

Our district office is conveniently located in the lobby of the Hollywood Branch of the Broward County Public Library at 2600 Hollywood Blvd, next to Hollywood City Hall. This office is open for your convenience Monday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. If you would like to schedule an appointment, or you have a great idea, suggestion or an issue that needs my attention, feel free to call me at 954-357-7006/7790 or send me an email at bfurr@broward.org.

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Post Script

Last month our newsletter did an analysis of the two half-penny surtax questions. As many of you are getting ready to cast your ballot, I wanted to make sure that everyone had one more chance to read about this initiative.

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A Penny At Work – Surtax Questions on the November Ballot

This November, far down the ballot, after the Presidential Election, the US Senate, the Florida State Senate, Sheriff, Mayor, Commissioners… etc. after all of the races that you will hear about, there will be two questions. These questions will concern two voluntary “half-penny” increases in our sales tax rate. These questions will appear together. Not only will these questions appear together, but the County and the Cities have reached an agreement where both questions must pass with 50% + 1 in order for either to pass. Both must pass, or both will fail.

A Penny At Work – Surtax Questions on the November Ballot

We are voting to decide whether or not to increase our sales tax in Broward County one percent, or one penny per dollar, in order to fund Transportation and Infrastructure projects throughout the County. This tax would only apply to purchases up to $5,000 on items currently subject to sales tax in Florida. Purchases of $5,000 and over only collect $50 in surtax.

How should I vote?

For legal reasons, this newsletter cannot advocate that you, the voter, vote one way or the other. That is your decision, and yours alone to make. Instead, I want to make sure that you have all of the information that you may need before choosing how you will vote.

How will I know which question is which?

Each question will be worded similarly. One question will have the word “Transportation” and the other question will replace that word with “Infrastructure.” Each question will also have different descriptions for the acceptable uses for taxes raised. For the sake of simplicity, I will just refer to these as Transportation and Infrastructure.

Transportation

Infrastructure

What happens if I want to vote for one but not the other?

As I mentioned above, Transportation and Infrastructure must both pass or both fail. So while it is important to know what Transportation will accomplish as well as what Infrastructure will accomplish if passed, I will also point out that this is not a question of whether Transportation is more or less important than Infrastructure. Instead, we are asking the voters if funding for Transportation and Infrastructure are important in their totality.

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How much money will be raised by this tax?

One penny of sales tax will raise an estimated $310-million in the first full year, and scale with the economy each successive year. This tax will sunset after 30 years, and we estimate that one penny will raise $12.4 billion in total.

What kinds of projects will be funded by this tax?

There are too many different proposed projects to name them all here. However, I would encourage each of you to visit the interactive map of proposed projects to see what is being planned for your neighborhood.

In general terms, the County will use the revenue raised from the Transportation half-penny for projects designed to increase mobility throughout the region. Expanding the capacity of our roadways, expansion of the Sawgrass expressway to I-95, greater traffic signal synchronization or “signalization,” new express bus routes, and moving the Tri-Rail to the FEC tracks along Dixie Highway would be on this list of projects. Further projects would have to be proposed by the County Commission to the independent oversight board for approval.

The Cities will each split the Infrastructure half-penny revenue for Infrastructure projects. Each city will have the discretion to propose projects to the independent oversight board for approval. These projects can range from repaving roads, to replacing water mains, to moving the city’s well field.

Hollywood’s proposed projects can be viewed here

Pembroke Pines’ proposed projects can be viewed here

Hallandale Beach’s proposed projects can be viewed here

What is the oversight board?

There will be an independent oversight board composed of experts in several fields, appointed by community leaders who are not current City or County Commissioners. The board will determine whether projects fit within the laws concerning how sales tax monies can be spent.

Have other Counties in Florida passed an Extra Penny sales surtax?

Yes. In 2016, 58 Counties (out of 67) have a voter-approved Local Option Surtax, ranging from a half-penny to one and a half pennies.

For example, Miami-Dade County voters approved a half-penny surtax to fund Jackson Memorial back in 1991, and another Half-Penny for Transit in 2002. In 2015, the Transit Surtax raised $272 Million, which funds projects that are overseen by the Miami Dade County Transportation Trust. Surtax revenues accounted for 28% of the total budget for the County’s Transit System that year.

Broward County is currently one of 9 Counties in Florida without a Local Option Surtax.

Summing up, it is going to be incredibly important for Community Leaders to really read through the plan at www.apennyatwork.com. We will all need to understand what will be accomplished if this item passes, and decide if those goals are worth an extra penny.


County Commissioner Beam Furr District 6
Broward County Commission | 115 S. Andrews Ave. Room 412 | Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Email - BFurr@Broward.org | Website - Broward.org | Phone: 954-357-7006