Broward County Commissioner - Lois Wexler - The Latest News
December 2013
A Look Back, A Look Ahead

For many of us, 2013 has been a year of both blessings and challenges. But in spite of some difficult times, it has also been a year of remarkable accomplishments. After years of work, the Board of County Commissioners finally approved an overhauled 911 system designed to improve public safety for the entire county and work on the airport runway and the new county courthouse is moving steadily. These are only a few examples of how we hope to continue to increase the quality of services we offer throughout the coming year. We wish all of you a happy holiday season and a memorable 2014.

Smoking In Parks: We Want Your Opinion

Among the issues certain to divide opinion is smoking in public places. Due to the harm of second-hand smoke, this practice is already banned in most buildings. The County Commission is weighing whether to extend that ban to all county parks and we want your input.

Currently, signs in the parks ask visitors not to smoke near playground areas and places where children congregate. But the suggested ordinance would make the ban mandatory, apply to all areas of the parks, and include e-cigarettes.

Prior to the public hearing in January, express your opinion by responding to a brief four-question online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/browardsmokingban. The survey also provides space for commentary. Note: You can only reply to the survey once.

Diminishing Discrimination

The County Commission passed a revision to its Human Rights section of the ordinances governing groups that approve or turn down applications to live in HOAs.

The groups now must provide an applicant a notice within 45 days that the application is approved or rejected. The new ordinance states, “If the application is rejected, the written notice must state with specificity each reason for the rejection.”

If for some reason, the application is considered incomplete, the association must notify the applicant within 15 days requesting specific information still required to process the application.

Some representatives told the commission at a public hearing this fall that they were concerned about the possibility of additional work load. But since applicants are already notified, the only thing required is a few seconds to add a sentence explaining why an application was rejected.

Some activists contend that some associations are rejecting applicants based on race, gender, sexual preference, or even outdated credit scores. Hopefully, forcing them to cite a reason on paper may inhibit discrimination.

Controlling The Pet Population

Changes to the animal ordinance targets the overpopulation of stray dogs and cats as well as the indiscriminate inbreeding that may create animals with incurable health problems.

The changes require professional and hobbyist dog and cat breeders to obtain a permit and restricts breeders to only one litter from each adult animal per year. With the permit renewed each year, fees will help to underwrite the county sterilization program.

Other regulations require breeders to keep records on the birth of each litter, a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection for Intrastate Sales, rabies vaccinations and inoculations, and identify customers acquiring a pet.

For more information, call Animal Care and Adoption at (954) 359-1313

Update: FEMA’s Delay on Flood Maps To Save Insurance Premiums

The federally-drawn maps that determine your flood insurance premiums remain a work in progress, although the project is entering its final stage.

Since 2010, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been revising maps identifying areas with high risk of flooding as tools for use by insurance companies to calculate premiums. Proposed maps released more than a year and a half ago determined nearly 75 percent of the homes in District 5 have a reduced risk of flood – meaning you would no longer be required to carry flood insurance..

Unfortunately, the federal process has moved slowly. The maps were discussed in hearings more than a year ago and several people appealed the depiction of where severe floods might occur. The deadline for filing those appeals expired a year ago,

Now FEMA is preparing to issue its final version of the maps in February. Once that occurs, the maps – and any changes in insurance rates – will take effect six months later.

We will keep you updated regularly with any information and when the maps will be completed. 

To see the maps as they were originally proposed, visit Broward.org/Regulation

Making Paying Taxes A Little Less Painful

Paying property taxes – or least delivering them -- is easier this year. Payments can be dropped off inside any of the 77 Wells Fargo Bank branches in Broward County.

A drive-through kiosk, located in the parking lot of the Governmental Center Annex building at 115 South Andrews Avenue in downtown Fort Lauderdale, will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 31, 2014. The kiosk will accept payments for 2013 taxes only, must be for the total tax bill, must be paid for by check only, and the original tax bill stub, which will be stamped “Received.”

If you want to be certain the payment was received, you can check online to obtain a printed copy of the receipt. Visit http://www.Broward.County-Taxes.com . Enter the property account number to access and print a copy of the bill.

Property taxes must be paid before April 1 to avoid a penalty. Discounts are applied for paying early.

For more information, call (954) 831-4000 or visit Broward.org/RecordsTaxesTreasury.

I-595: The End of the Road

After four years, the massive transformation of Interstate 595 is in the home stretch with 95 percent of the work completed. Construction should be complete this spring.

In March, the tolled, reversible express lanes will open, from I-75 and the Sawgrass Expressway on the west end, to U.S. 1, I-95, Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on the east end.

That project provides three additional toll lanes in the median. That flow will reverse direction to handle rush hour traffic: eastbound in the morning, westbound in the afternoon. In theory, this will remove long distance commuter traffic from local traffic.

Electronic message signs placed before the entrance to 595 Express will display the current toll rate which will depend on traffic flow. Tolls will be collected electronically by SunPass via a toll gantry, eliminating transaction times and allowing cars to maintain highway speeds.

Much of the work has been completed on the toll lanes. Drivers on I-595 will see the last work underway over the next few months on the normal non-toll lanes. Constructions crews have begun placing the final layer of asphalt, installing permanent overhead signs and landscaping throughout the project.

 

Phone: 954-357-7005 • Fax: 954-357-7044 • lwexler@broward.org
115 S. Andrews Avenue, Room 437B, Fort Lauderdale FL 33301
Visit my website.

Aide: Margaret Wolter: mwolter@broward.org
Aide: Sandy Yeager: syeager@broward.org
 
Comments, suggestions, items for future newsletters, contact
Wm. F. Hirschman at whirschman@broward.org