With school back in session, Broward’s State and Local Primary Election in our rearview mirror, the 2016 Rio Olympics at a close, and Labor Day reminding us that men and women fought for the right to a 40 hour workweek, we can now turn our attention to some very important decisions that need to be made over the next few months. These decisions will have long term effects on all of us who live and work in Broward County. I want to be sure you are well informed about the issues before us. But first, a shout out to one of our local Olympians!
Congratulations to Team USA Paralympian Natalie Bieule of Pembroke Pines
Natalie Bieule at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games
This past Sunday, September 11th, Natalie Bieule of Pembroke Pines represented Team USA in the Women’s Discus Throw at the Paralympic Games in Rio. This is an incredible achievement, and I encourage you to
watch WSVN’s interview with Natalie to learn more about her incredible journey.
You can see her
Team USA profile here.
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.
What are we voting on?
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.
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.
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
Pembroke Pines’ proposed projects can be viewed
Hallandale Beach’s proposed projects can be viewed
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.
Fitch and Associates Delivers Phase 1 of their Consultant Report on Broward’s E-911 System
Commissioner Furr visiting the Pembroke Pines PSAP, one of three E-911 call centers
Public safety is one of the most important functions of local government. That is why it is so important that we know when residents are dialing 911 for an emergency, that they aren’t having problems receiving emergency services.
The County contracted with Fitch and Associates to provide a report on the overall successes and failures of the Countywide Regional E-911 System. Though there have been problems within the system, Phase I of the consultant’s report was very complimentary to the overall success of this project. Through the eyes of the consultant, Broward’s Consolidated E-911 system is one of the largest and most ambitious in the nation.
You can read the full report
The upcoming Phase 2 report will include the consultant's recommendations for improvements. Yet, we are already taking action to make improvements to this system. In the early months of 2017, the County will roll out a new $4.2 million Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. The new CAD system will replace the 22-year-old system that dispatchers are currently using, and this new system will be able to interface to the E-911 System, Radio System, Regional Law and Fire Records Systems, and Paging and Toning Systems. We have also started the process to replace the 30-year-old radio system, with a new state-of-the-art radio system.
Additionally we have launched a new system for residents and visitors to give feedback on their experience with E-911. This way, it will be easier for the County to catch mistakes as they happen, which will help us to make continual improvements.
If you would like to tell us about your own experience with the E-911 system, you can call 311, which is the phone number for the Broward County Call Center. Or, you can
provide feedback on our website.
What is Leachate and do we want to send it down a Deep Injection Well?
In addition to Public Safety, local government is tasked with the responsibility to provide capacity for the disposal of sewage and solid waste. While these may be icky subjects, each of these responsibilities carries tremendous importance. If you don’t believe me, just try and imagine how long most people would tolerate living in a community where no one picked up the garbage and the toilets didn’t flush.
In 1995, The Broward County Commission found a way to answer one disposal question with another. Let me explain:
When we dispose our garbage in a landfill, there is a consistent challenge with rainwater. Though many modern landfills use multiple layers of ultra-absorbent liners made out of clay and other materials to cover any openings, it is inevitable that some water will get in and run through.
Leachate is the water that runs out from these landfills, and as you might expect it is very gross and highly toxic. Jess Swanson of the
Broward New Times dubbed it “Garbage Juice.”
Here in Broward, the leachate from the Monarch Hill landfill is collected by Waste Management. Waste Management then sends the leachate to the County’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, where we can treat the leachate to the standards of the Federal Clean Water Act. In exchange for using our disposal facility to treat the leachate from Monarch Hill, Waste Management disposes of the sludge (poop) that the Wastewater Treatment Plant removes from all of the County’s wastewater.
To me, this has always been a shining example of government at its best. We have the capacity to treat wastewater, they have the capacity to dispose what remains. This is why I was disappointed to see that Waste Management was applying for a permit to build a Class I deep injection well to dispose untreated leachate deep underground.
Deep injection wells burrow thousands of feet below the surface, straight through the water table to the deep rock layers where liquids can disperse. Expert geologists attest that at that depth, it is unlikely for this liquid to migrate up to the water table. However, it has happened before and it is difficult to take comfort in that idea when our drinking water is at stake.
For instance, the County uses a deep injection well to bury some portion of our wastewater after it is treated. The State of Florida has an outright ban on the human consumption of reuse water, though many other states do not, and it is only a recent phenomenon that Florida has allowed the use of reuse water for irrigation. For instance, every time you see purple pipes getting buried in the medians of our roads, or installed in parks and golf courses, they are used to take treated wastewater with acceptable nutrient content to water the plants.
Commissioner Furr sitting down with Leisa Colombo Williams of WSVN to discuss Waste Management’s Class I Deep Injection Well Permit Application
But to inject untreated leachate, straight from the landfill, into that same subterranean zone, just doesn’t seem necessary or wise given that we have safer ways of dealing with the waste. Thankfully, this issue is getting more attention. WSVN Channel 7 will be airing a segment on Tuesday the 13th and the Sun Sentinel and the Broward New Times both published articles on this subject. That is why I was happy to see a full room when I attended the Public Hearing that the State Department of Environmental Protection held on September 1st to give voice to these concerns.
Commissioner Furr speaking at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Public Hearing on Waste Management’s Application for a Class I Deep Injection Well Permit
Furthermore, County staff from our Environmental Protection and Community Resilience Division submitted formal comments on their concerns about this proposed well to the State’s Department of Environmental Protection.
Ultimately, this permit application will be evaluated and approved or denied by the staff at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Though it is after the period allotted for public comments, if you would like to address any concerns that you have with this permit application, please direct them to Neil I. Campbell, Engineer Specialist III with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Aquifer Protection Program—Underground Injection Control Program. Phone: 850.245.8612 Fax: 850.245.7573 Email:
If you would like to see Broward County’s Formal Comments to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, you can do so
Broward County Cuts Our Millage Rate 1% – What This Means for Your Tax Bill
This year the County Commission has lowered our millage rate by 1% from 5.7230 to 5.6690. The millage rate is the amount of property taxes owed per $1,000 of assessed property value. This means that if your property value has not risen too high in over last year’s assessment, the County portion of your tax bill should go down. Of course, your overall property tax bill is the sum of the taxes owed to each taxing authority. For most residents in Broward County, our properties are subject to taxation by:
- The City
- The County
- The School Board
- The Hospital District
- The Children’s Services Council
- Other Special Taxing Districts (i.e. South Florida Water Management District)
Each of these taxing authorities sets its own millage rate and determines the allowable exemptions each year. By this point, you should have received your 2016 Notice of Proposed Property Taxes, which is often referred to as a TRIM notice. Your TRIM notice will have a breakdown of the millage rate set by each taxing authority multiplied by the applicable value.
Broward County has also doubled the low-income Homestead Exemption for seniors. This would allow our residents over the age of 65 whose household earns $28,482 a year or less to double their Homestead Exemption from $25,000 to $50,000 for County taxes.
Budget Public Hearings Thursday September 15th and Tuesday September 27th
If you would like to come before the County Commission and give your feedback on our proposed annual budget for Fiscal Year 2017, the County will be holding our Budget Public Hearings on Thursday September 15th and Tuesday September 27th in the County Commission Chambers beginning at 5:01 PM each day.
You can see our proposed budget
Hollywood Budget Public Hearings Wednesday September 14th and Wednesday September 28
The Hollywood City Commission will be holding Budget Public Hearings on Thursday Wednesday September 14th and Wednesday September 28th in the City Commission Chambers beginning at 5:30 PM each day.
You can see the proposed budget
Hallandale Beach Budget Public Hearings Thursday September 22nd
The Hallandale Beach City Commission will be holding their Second Budget Public Hearing on Thursday September 22nd in the City Commission Chambers beginning at 5:05 PM.
You can see the proposed budget
Pembroke Pines Budget Public Hearing Wednesday September 21st
The Pembroke Pines City Commission will be holding their Second Budget Public Hearing on Wednesday September 21st in the City Commission Chambers beginning at 6 PM.
You can see the proposed budget
Pembroke Road Overpass Opening over I-75 Saturday September 17th
Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital will be holding a 5k to celebrate the opening of the Pembroke Road Overpass this Saturday September 17th. You can be one of the first people to run/walk over this bridge. Funds raised by this event will go towards the 2017 Tour de Broward. For more information, please visit their
City of Hallandale Beach Ribbon Cutting at OB Johnson Park/Hepburn Center Saturday September 17th
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 email@example.com.