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New Fort Lauderdale Stormwater Rates: What You Need To Know

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020 UPDATE – LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR NEW STORMWATER RATES

The TRIM notices recently sent out show, for condos, two charges for stormwater:  acreage and trip charges.  The trip charge is $18.65 for each condo unit.  The acreage charge depends on the percentage of square feet in the unit.

Look Up Stormwater Information for your condo:  Visit bit.ly/stormh2o and enter a property address into the GIS database to view the proposed stormwater assessment.  For condos, enter street address (no city) and unit number like this:  3900 galt ocean dr #2115

Fort Lauderdale has enacted a new procedure for who pays for stormwater as well as new rates.  The good news is that condominium and cooperative associations will no longer have a monthly charge for stormwater management fees.  The bad news is individual unit owners will see this charge on their annual tax bill – which is due in November 2020.

The City Commission approved the new billing methodology at two regular commission meetings on June 2 and June 16, 2020 and will vote on the 2021 rates on September 14.  The rates quoted in this article are the ones proposed by the consultant.

The new Stormwater Utility fee methodology for associations incorporates both acreage (total land square footage) and trip generation rates.  An individual unit owner’s stormwater yearly bill will be determined using these two components.

  1. Acreage: association’s land acreage, and,
  2. Trip Charge: estimated number of trips generated per day for each unit (based on a trip methodology developed by the Institute of Transportation Engineers).  These trips are then assigned a cost per trip.

Together, these two components constitute the yearly stormwater charge for individual unit owners that will appear on their annual tax bill.  The plan is the two components share the costs at an 80:20 ratio. This is true for all property types. 

BACKGROUND

Currently, Fort Lauderdale residents pay a monthly stormwater fee through their utility bills.  Every utility bill has a line that identifies stormwater fees and is assessed as follows:

  • Single Family Home (3 or less units): $14/month ($168 yearly)
  • Multifamily Dwelling (4 units or more): $141.12 per acre/month ($1,693.44/acre yearly)
  • Unimproved Land: $44.73 per acre/month ($536.76/acre yearly)

These fees generate revenues used by the city to protect against water runoff that can accumulate in streets, on property, underpasses, and overflow seawalls.  The city Public Works Department oversees the stormwater operations and repairs/replacements to the systems used to drain the stormwater. Operations, maintenance, repair and replacement capital projects cost approximately $15.5 million per year and are funded through the stormwater fees charged to utility customers.

The city is experiencing serious stormwater issues in most areas of Fort Lauderdale.  The city commission has identified seven areas of greatest need.  In order to provide the capital for these seven projects, the city needs to raise $200 million in FY 2021.  The city commission approved a study of the stormwater fees by Stantec (the same firm that did the Water and Sewer Rate Study).  Stantec reported back its findings to the city commission in a May 25, 2020 final report.

The goal is to ensure the Stormwater Utility has the resources needed to invest in and maintain the stormwater system that protects the City. The seven identified priority areas are:  Edgewood • River Oak • Dorsey Riverbend • Durrs Area • Progresso • Victoria Park • Southeast Isles.  According to the City Commission, the challenge was to the find a fair system to finance the needed $200 million stormwater capital improvements, without shifting the burden to one group over another group within the city.

STORMWATER SYSTEM

The Stormwater Operations program was developed to provide a dedicated operational focus to maintaining and improving the City of Fort Lauderdale’s stormwater infrastructure. The adoption of these fees and new fee structure are necessary to allow a special assessment to be imposed by the City to fund the capital costs to construct, reconstruct, repair, improve, and extend Stormwater Management Systems within the City of Fort Lauderdale.  Stormwater is a multi-jurisdictional operation, but the City operates, repairs, and maintains much of the stormwater infrastructure within City limits, including:

  • 183.5 miles of stormwater pipe
  • 1,151 manholes
  • 1,038 outfalls
  • 6 drainage wells
  • 8,848 catch basins

                  

BILLING CHANGES

Currently, the stormwater charge is part of the utility bill received monthly by the association.  It is the bill for water, wastewater, irrigation, sanitation (not applicable to associations) and stormwater.  The cost is paid by the individual or organization named on the utility account.  In the case of an association, the bill comes to the association and is paid by the association since they do not have individual meters for each unit.

That will change on October 1, 2020.  The new stormwater charges will appear on the individual’s annual tax bill as a non-ad valorem assessment.  The annual Fire-Rescue fee is an example of a non-ad valorem assessment.

NEW STORMWATER RATES

The City Commission will vote on the new stormwater rates on September 14, 2020 at a special meeting.  The proposed rates for single family homes will be a fixed, yearly charge of $258.26.

For condominium and cooperative individual owners, the charge will consist of two components:  Acreage and Trip Charge.

A unit owner’s yearly stormwater assessment will be calculated as follow, using the above two components.

  1. ACREAGE: Individual’s unit living area DIVIDED by total of all units’ living area (excluding common areas) to arrive at a percentage of ownership.  This percentage will then be multiplied TIMES parcel charge ($2,273.01/acre).
  2. TRIP CHARGE: 4.45 average annual daily trips generated from each condo unit X $4.19 per trip = $18.65 yearly (Trip rate is the average daily trips during a weekday from Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), Trip Generation, 10th ed, 2017.)

Example: If the unit owner’s living area is 1,000 sq ft and the total living area of all units in the building is 100,000 sq ft – then 1,000 divided by 100,000 = 1% (unit owner’s share). If the association’s land acreage is 2 acres – then multiply 2 times $2,273.01/acre = $4,546.02 (total acreage charge).  This amount is then multiplied by the individual owner’s share of 1% (.01 x $4,546.02) = $45.46.   Combining the two:  $45.46 (acreage) + $18.65 (trip charge) = $64.11 – annual fee for stormwater on an individual’s tax bill for 2021.

These two added together will be an individual unit owner’s yearly stormwater bill. Each year, the city commission will set the acreage and trip charge – and will have to recalculate each association unit owner’s assessment.

There are similar fee structures for churches, businesses, commercial establishments, and others.  Currently, the renters or lessees of property pay the stormwater charge as part of the water and sewer utility bill (not in an association).  This new ordinance will shift that cost to the property owner’s tax bill.

The city’s website will have a GIS mapping system that shows each property in Fort Lauderdale and that property owner’s stormwater assessment. This is expected to be available by August.   

CONCLUSIONS

A one-page summary of this article is attached – and can be downloaded for distribution to owners to educate them on the new stormwater assessment they will see on this year’s tax bill and all future tax bills.    

The Galt Mile Community Association (GMCA) met with and provided city commissioners, the mayor and staff background materials on this issue, making strong arguments that association individual owners should not bear an unfair share of the costs of the $200 million capital improvement projects and yearly maintenance.  While single family owners’ fees are increasing 54% – association fees (total of all individuals in the building) are increasing a greater percentage.

GMCA also made the argument that while having roadways free of water and always being passable would benefit property owners, it was pointed out that many others would greatly benefit, but not pay any of the costs.  These include vendors and contractors living outside of Fort Lauderdale, commuters, visitors, and delivery companies (FedEx, UPS, Amazon).

Unfortunately, the city has no way to tax or assess these users of our roadways for stormwater maintenance and improvements if they don’t own property in the city.  GMCA will continue to monitor this assessment to ensure associations are treated fairly and not over burdened by disproportionate costs.

 


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Broward Commissioner Lamar Fisher’s May 2020 Newsletter

In his May 2020 Newsletter, District 4 Broward County Commissioner Lamar Fisher thanks constituents for “staying at home” and adhering to the terms in other COVID-19 Broward emergency orders, recognizes essential workers and volunteers for keeping the community afloat prior to the County’s May 18 kickoff of Phase 1, and suggests that hurricane season preparations include subscribing to notifications from ALERT!BROWARD.

Along with allocations to offset general COVID-19 containment costs, the County coughed up funding assistance for the homeless, for non-profit cultural organizations and $2.3 million for Broward Supervisor of Elections Peter Antonacci to shield voters from the pandemic in the 2020 primary and general elections. He relocated 12 at-risk polling sites, budgeted postage sufficient for sending vote-by-mail ballots to roughly 65% of the electorate for the next two years and acquired new equipment to print and process the ballots.

Fisher laments how the failure of many Broward residents to complete the 2020 Census input will hammer the County’s eligibility for State and Federal funding, threatening a decade of regular shortfalls typically billed to Broward taxpayers. The census data also determines Broward’s share of Federal representation (Congress) during the next decade.

The Stay Local Campaign

Destination DC (DDC) is the official marketing organization for the nation’s capital. Last November, DDC launched a consumer advertising campaign named “Stay Local DC”, which used deep discounts to draw DC residents into local shops and restaurants, and book staycations in Washington, DC hotels. It worked like a charm.

When officials began relieving mass containment restrictions first triggered by the pandemic after January, residents concerned by reopening plans that blew off CDC recovery prerequisites in order to salvage the economy suddenly realized that restaurant profits rated a higher priority than the lives of their families. The Stay Local enticements were used to cajole residents still leery about exposure into the marketplace. Proven effective, the marketing concept spread to jurisdictions across the country – including Broward County.

Fisher closes by endorsing the Stay Local Campaign as a vehicle for reviving the local economy. Marketing muscle ordinarily used by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau to attract visitors world-wide to South Florida destination sites was refocused on local residents who spent months bouncing off the walls of their homes while fending off a claustrophobic stupor. It combines the fear of traveling during a pandemic with a cash flow transfusion to struggling local businesse

Click here to read Commissioner Lamar Fisher’s May 2020 Newsletter.

 

 


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City Commissioner Heather Moraitis’ May 2020 Newsletter

In her May 2020 Newsletter, District 1 City Commissioner Heather Moraitis empathizes with our mid-May frustration with home-bound pandemic containment. Recognizing the difficulty of slowing the spread of COVID-19 in one of the State’s most heavily infected regions, Moraitis extols the collective efforts of State, County and City officials to quickly implement a unilateral lock-down, sharpen medical response capabilities and fast-track regional testing outreach.

While also applauding thousands of District 1 constituents for swallowing hard and complying with an exasperating set of evolving restrictions, Moraitis declares that the time has come to jump-start the stalled economy by “safely and smartly venturing out when appropriate,” admonishing “Please continue to follow guidelines.”

Presumably, Moraitis alludes to City or County guidelines, since no jurisdiction in South Florida is remotely compliant with recovery prerequisites specified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the White House Task Force. At the end of the day – each of us must balance this agenda with the wellbeing of our families.

Click here to read Commissioner Moraitis’ May Newsletter

 


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Update and City Resources Available on COVID-19

City Commissioner Heather Moraitis provided the following update from the City of Fort Lauderdale on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). We appreciate the leadership, time and effort Commissioner Moraitis has put into helping guide our city during this unique health crisis. She has been fabulous in her communications to residents and Facebook posts, keeping us as up to date as possible, given how quickly events are changing in the city, county, state and federal government. The City of Fort Lauderdale has numerous emergency regulations in place regarding operations and services, buildings and facilities, openings and closures, public meetings, events, public gatherings, and promoting social distancing in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the healthcare system is not overwhelmed. To see the latest updates on current regulations, please visit www.fortlauderdale.gov/coronavirus.

We also appreciate the leadership and commitment being made by County Commissioner Lamar Fisher and State Representative Chip LaMarca, both of whom have done an excellent job of communicating updated information to all of us.

Additional links to Centers for Disease Control, Department of Business and Professional Regulations, and Broward County Sheriff about actions on Coronavirus can be found on the Regency Tower website.


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Galt Mile Beaches Reopen Tuesday, May 26

UPDATE:  Effective June 1, use of the Galt Mile beaches will be expanded to allow picnicking, sunbathing, sitting, or lying on the beach, as well as the use of umbrellas, canopies, chairs, loungers and coolers. The original restrictions were in place to keep people moving on the beach and prevent overcrowding.  The restrictions still include no group gatherings or events of more than 10 people and no group or organized sports, like volleyball. County Administrator Bertha Henry issued Emergency Order 20-14 on Friday, May 29, which further addresses Phase 1 reopening guidelines to slightly expand beach activities as described above.

County Administrator Bertha Henry issued Emergency Order 20-13 on Friday, May 22, which extends Phase 1 reopening guidelines to beaches, commercial gyms and commercial fitness centers, hotels and other commercial lodging, with restrictions, effective Tuesday, May 26.

Pio Ieraci

The Galt Mile Community Association, under the leadership of President Pio Ieraci, has been working directly with County Commissioner Lamar Fisher on getting our Galt Mile beaches reopened, but doing so in a safe manner.  “We appreciate all the efforts and support from Commissioner Fisher in achieving this goal – and we are excited to be able to return to our beautiful Galt beaches – even with the restrictions placed on their use at this time” stated Pio Ieraci.  All residents and associations are strongly urged to abide

County Comm. Lamar Fisher

by these guidelines to protect our fellow residents and not place our beaches in jeopardy of being closed due to flagrant violations.

 

 

Highlights of the new order include:

Beaches Open:  All beaches can open with limited hours (sunrise to sunset). Ocean activities such as surfing, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding and body surfing are allowed; also walking, running and biking.

Beach Restrictions for Now:  Like other communities across the country, Broward beaches are not yet open for picnicking, sunbathing, sitting or lying on the beach. Group or organized sports (such as volleyball), umbrellas, canopies, chairs, loungers and coolers are also not yet allowed, and no group gatherings of more than 10 people. Beachgoers must maintain social distancing (six feet of separation), except between members of the same household or groups.

Vacation Rentals:  Vacation rentals are open, but only for essential lodgers, as authorized by the Governor’s Executive Order 20-87.

Enforcement is critical to the success of the reopening strategy, to ensure that a spike in new cases does not occur, which could result in another complete or partial shutdown. County and Health Department officials are monitoring benchmarks that will help identify the emergence of “hotspots” that can be quickly mitigated.

Law enforcement and code enforcement agencies are authorized to enforce the requirements of the Emergency Order. Failure to comply can result in civil or criminal penalties, including fines, imprisonment or both. Residents can also report violations anonymously online at MyBroward.Broward.org, or by calling the Broward County Call Center at 311 or 954-831-4000.

These re-openings are in addition to those outlined in Emergency Order 20-12 issued May 21. Because COVID-19, however, remains a serious threat to public safety, the social distancing, facial covering and sanitation requirements remain in place for businesses that reopen, and the individuals who patronize them.

Broward County has been under a Local State of Emergency since March 10. For the latest updates, visit FloridaHealth.gov, email COVID-19@flhealth.gov or call the COVID Call Center at 954-357-9500. To learn what Broward County is doing to keep our community safe, visit Broward.org/Coronavirus.






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Broward Commissioner Lamar Fisher’s March 2020 Newsletter

Commentary:  In his March 2020 Newsletter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Lamar Fisher opens by citing how County Administrator Bertha Henry echoed Governor Ron DeSantis’ COVID-19 Executive Orders 

with a Declaration of Emergency. Henry later tailored the Declaration to subsequent gubernatorial mandates with two extensions and 7 Emergency Orders.

Fisher applauds Port Everglades’ eligibility for $29.1 million in “New Start” funding allocated to the construction of a new Coast Guard Station. As State grants and port revenues fund the balance of almost $10 million, the Army Corps of Engineers will oversee widening the Intracoastal Waterway by 250 feet, enabling Port Everglades to access the economic windfall reaped by those few ports with clearance sufficient for huge Neo-Panamax cargo vessels.

 Six years after Broward County implemented a voter-mandated Consolidated Emergency Dispatch System on October 1, 2014, municipal firefighters still hit the brakes when they reach their City’s borders, even if the flames are in spitting distance.  Broward Emergency 911 officials finally launched the long-delayed county-wide “Closest Unit Response.” Beginning in March, Fisher reports that Sunrise, Lauderhill, North Lauderdale, Oakland Park, Tamarac and Fort Lauderdale will integrate GPS with Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) to automatically locate and dispatch the closest properly equipped first responder, a protocol planned for every Broward municipality by the end of 2021.

After exhorting how failure to flesh out the upcoming 2020 Census count will cripple future State and/or Federal grants and subsidies while leaving Broward residents underrepresented in Congress, Fisher invites constituent input to help set priorities for the first Broward Parks and Recreation Division Master Plan.

Read on for Commissioner Lamar Fisher’s March 2020 Newsletter