The holiday season is upon us and I want to encourage everyone to please stay safe. Broward County continues to work closely with the Florida Department of Health during this pandemic. The County receives and reviews daily state and regional criteria/indicators that provides administration with the ability to assess how our community is doing. Broward County is trending slightly higher in the number of positive cases in our area the past couple of weeks.
The Galt Mile Community is saddened to announce the passing of our President, Pio Ieraci. Presiding over Galt Mile meetings and issues for the past 30 years, Pio was totally committed to the Galt Mile. His leadership made the Galt Mile community one of the most powerful neighborhood associations in Fort Lauderdale, and a powerful voice on county and state issues. He also served as president of the Galt Ocean Club.
The members of the Galt Mile Community Association and neighbors mourn the loss of this great man, who did so much over the past 30 years. He will be sorely missed by all who know him.
FORT LAUDERDALE — A powerful Fort Lauderdale beachfront community has lost its charismatic leader with the eagle eye for detail and the “force of nature” to get things done.
Pio Ieraci, longtime president of the Galt Mile Community Association, died early Sunday, December 20 from COVID-19, city officials confirmed. He was 58. “He was on a ventilator for 14 days,” Mayor Dean Trantalis said. “It’s a terrible shock to the community. It’s a real loss. Our heart goes out to his family.”Ieraci spent 30 years as president of the Galt Mile Community Association representing the interests of 30 oceanfront condos and 16,000 residents. A stickler for details, the Canadian-born Ieraci was a unique blend of businessman, family man, diplomat and village shaman, according to his bio on the association’s website.
Vice Mayor Steve Glassman, who became fast friends with Ieraci after meeting him 20 years ago, was reeling from the news of his death. “I’m in shock,” Glassman said. “He’s been president of the Galt Mile Association forever. He’s been such a force of nature when it comes to community activism. He’s so involved and so caring, always out there and so involved. And a strong advocate for protecting the barrier island.”
Fred Nesbitt, director and treasurer of the Galt Mile Community Association, said he was devastated by the news. “I still don’t believe it,” he said. “It was like taking a punch in the head this morning when I heard this. He’s been so much a part of us forever. Pio is the Galt.” Ieraci was a natural leader whose shoes are going to be impossible to fill, Nesbitt said. “He had a wonderful personality,” Nesbitt said. “He had charisma. He knew everyone. And he had the leadership skills to get things done. When he said he was going to do something, he did it. He got it done.”
Glassman described Ieraci as an organized and well-connected mover and shaker who was able to take local issues to the state level. “He did a great job working with our state legislators,” Glassman said. “I always thought of him as such a fit guy who took care of himself. I knew he was sick and I knew he was in the hospital. But I thought he was getting better. This is shocking to me. Shocking.”
Broward Commissioner Lamer Fisher said he immediately hit it off with Ieraci when the two met for coffee three years ago to discuss Fisher’s run for county office. “He became a true friend,” Fisher said. “I got the call this morning and I just couldn’t believe it. He was so fit. He was always exercising and eating right. Always looked like a million dollars, no matter what he was wearing. It just goes to show this disease is relentless.”
Ieraci, a real estate broker, owned his own company, International Property Investments Corp. He leaves behind a wife, son and daughter. Ieraci would have been 59 on Jan 10.
Obituary, Sun-Sentinel, by Susannah Bryan
As previously reported, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to start construction of a post-Hurricane Irma repair project in Pompano Beach, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, and Fort Lauderdale. The project is estimated to place approximately 387,800 cubic yards of upland sand along the shoreline, with 100% cost share by the federal government. Temporary beach construction access point closures will be necessary and public access will be restricted on the beach area directly under construction; however, all efforts will be made to accommodate beach access to residents and guests, while assuring safe construction operations.
Broward County is hosting a public outreach meeting is scheduled for October 30, 2020, from 11AM to 12PM via online webinar. Questions can be emailed to [email protected] and you can register to attend this virtual workshop by clicking below or visiting www.Broward.org/BeachRenourishment.
I am thrilled to advise the Galt Ocean Mile Reading Center will reopen on Monday, November 9th! During the closure due to COVID 19, our libraries and facilities teams worked diligently on the previously planned renovation of the Reading Center. I have seen photos of the finished project and I am hopeful the patrons will be happy with their new Reading Center. At this time computer usage is not available but please be assured Library staff is working to have the computers available in the near future.
Many thanks to our Library and Facilities staff for their hard work on this renovation project. And, to our patrons, thank you for your patience! Happy Reading! A list of all library events can be found by clicking here.
Lamar Fisher, Broward County Commissioner, District 4
A special thanks goes to Theresa Claire, a member of the Galt Mile Community Association Advisory Board, for her volunteer hours and dedicated work toward getting our Galt Mile Reading Center renovation completed. She used her voice to push our elected representatives to get the project started and completed. We thank her for shepherding this project from inception until completion, and keeping the GMCA updated and informed every step of the way.
The Segment II Shore Protection Project is located within central Broward County and contains the municipalities of Pompano Beach, Sea Ranch Lakes, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, and Fort Lauderdale. The project area has undergone three sand placement events in 1970, 1983, and 2016.
Currently, planning is underway for a Flood Control and Coastal Emergency (FCCE) project in Segment II. The project is expected to go to construction in Winter 2020, under 100% federal cost participation. These projects will replace losses from Hurricane Irma and rebuild the beaches to their full design template, above and below the water line, where feasible. Construction may begin in February 2021-March 2021. Alternatively, the contractor may decide to begin and complete the project in one phase from November 2021-March 2022. The schedule will be confirmed in January after the contract is awarded by the US Army Corps of Engineers. They are keeping the turtle nesting season in mind.
In a conference call with Broward county, this is the latest on the project:
- 100% Federal funding
- The sand that they will be putting down will look like the sand that is at the beaches now, but the color may change a little over time.
- They got permission at all areas that will be closed for construction.
- They will always have crews onsite to direct people
- Usually it only takes a few days to place sand along most properties.
- They will be putting in a new reef while they do this.
- They have made it clear that no building will be impacted by the big/loud machinery.
- Entry locations for bringing sand to the beach: NE 30th Street, NE 27th Street, NE 25th Street, NE 18th Street and SR A1A and Sunrise Blvd
The last 2016 Segment II Shore Protection Project was constructed between January and December 2016. Due to sea turtle nesting season, no construction activities or sand placement occurred from May 1 to October 31. The project included sand placement along two reaches of shoreline. The northern reach, located along southern Pompano Beach and northern Lauderdale-By-The-Sea was approximately 5,150 feet in length, and the southern reach located along southern Lauderdale-By-The-Sea and northern/central Fort Lauderdale (including the Galt Mile) was approximately 21, 050 feet in length. Overall, 710,300 cubic yards of sand was placed within the project area from an upland sand mine. The most recent project accounted for sea level rise within its design, and this volume was included within the total amount of fill placed. Depending upon location along the shoreline, the restored beach added between 75 to 125 additional feet of beach. Additionally, over 1.5 miles of new dune habitat was created by the project. Overall, total project costs related to sand placement only were approximately $36 million.
The City of Fort Lauderdale will be repairing a stormwater pipe in the westbound lane of NE 33rd Street between NE 32nd Avenue and NE 33rd Avenue. Work is expected to begin on Tuesday, October 27 and will be completed on Friday, November 6. This schedule is subject to change based on inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances.
The Fort Lauderdale city commission on September 14 adopted the new methodology for assessing stormwater charges along with the rates for acreage and trips used per property. See previous article with details about the stormwater issue and new structures.
Earlier, the city commission adopted the new stormwater structure that includes 1) shifting the costs of stormwater from the water and sewer utility bill to the property owner (or in the case of an association – from the association’s bill to the individual unit owners) and, 2) charging a fee for association unit owners that is based on the association’s acreage and daily trips per unit.
The details for association owners can be found on the TRIM notices sent out in August by the property appraiser’s office. The notices detail the two components of the stormwater fee, and are listed as a non-ad valorem assessment that will appear on each year’s tax bill.
Details about the city commission meeting can be found on the city’s website – just click on “action details” to see a summary of the debate and final action on this issue.
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.
- Acreage: association’s land acreage, and,
- 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.
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.
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
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.
- 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).
- 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.
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.
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
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.