City of Ft Lauderdale

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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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City Commissioner Heather Moraitis Feb/Mar 2020 Newsletter

Commentary: In her February – March 2020 Newsletter, District 1 City Commissioner Heather Moraitis opens by inviting constituents to attend the March 14 home opener of Major League Soccer (MLS), as David Beckham’s Inter Miami CF team was poised to confront the L.A. Galaxy (his former team) in the sports complex recently erected on the site that used to house Lockhart Stadium.

Taking a page from the NBA, the NHL the Miami Open and Major League Baseball, two days before the game, Major League Soccer postponed its season, placing the contest on hold. As the Coronavirus was still a cloudy enigma, a delighted Moraitis notes how events conspired to provide the City (and District 1 residents) with 2 new stadiums and an impressive laundry list of recreational amenities – courtesy of David Beckham’s Major League Soccer franchise.

Moraitis also looks at the first 7 of 150 planned Infrastructure projects, sewer repairs and tips that may help the city dodge future blockages, how the Reiss Report redefined the City’s Comprehensive Utility Master Plan, the Corollo Report recommendations for the Fiveash Water Plant, LauderBriefs that update City Commission meetings, a pictorial summary of recent events and how to flag FPL about street light outages. Ironically, about one week after the Commissioner issued this Newsletter, COVID-19 took the planet hostage.

Read on for Commissioner Moraitis’ February – March 2020 message to constituents.  

 

 


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City Commissioner Heather Moraitis’ November 2019 Newsletter

City Commissioner Heather Moraitis’ November 2019 Newsletter

Commentary

*In her November 2019 Newsletter, District 1 City Commissioner Heather Moraitis addresses the concerns of her Telephone Town Hall Meeting participants, outlining City plans to mitigate the adverse impacts of sea level rise by implementing long-delayed infrastructure improvements and citing detailed Master Plan objectives to contain stormwater threats and strengthen seawalls. Moraitis also invites constituents to attend the annual Light up the Galt, visit Santa on the Beach, snatch a free tree from the City, and serve on a municipal board.

Public Works Band-Aids or Resiliency?

In aspiring to resiliency, Fort Lauderdale had to change the primary beneficiaries of its municipal maintenance protocols. No longer solely placating the Developers, speculators and other deep-pocketed transient property owners (mostly major campaign contributors), the City Commission suddenly shunned a decades-long predisposition for inexpensive firehouse-style repairs in favor of sustainable development – finally addressing the needs of current and future long-term residents.

Growing Number of Exploding Water Mains

For decades, City Administrations neglected sewer systems, water treatment & distribution venues, storm drains and seawalls for fear of how increasing the millage might undermine their prospects for re-election. Also left to rot were roads, sidewalks, traffic control systems, parks, municipal structures (i.e. FLPD Headquarters, City Hall, etc.), canals, bridges, and other municipal infrastructure.

Instead of adapting inadequate infrastructure to meet the exigencies of advanced deterioration, commercial expansion and population growth, Commissioners restricted allocations to repairing catastrophic failures in aging sewers, storm drains and water lines that were originally built to service the city’s population when it was a fraction of its current size.

Despite repeated City assurances of infrastructure sufficiency, the increasing frequency of exploding water mains, sewer failures and backflowing storm drains often immersed entire neighborhoods knee-deep in seawater. Minimizing the specter of infrastructure collapse, water and sewer funds were annually hijacked and used to balance the budget.

A cyclone of public blowback pressured the City to empanel an infrastructure task force, and quantify the structural and financial impact of ongoing chronic maintenance failures. Official findings confirmed that the City’s future functionality would minimally cost $1.4 billion to salvage heavily eroded infrastructure, $1 billion for stormwater improvements, and roughly another half $billion to upgrade roads, seawalls, sidewalks, bridges, etc. Whether financed through bond issues or direct levy, taxpayers and ratepayers will have to cough up roughly $3 billion to help secure the City’s future.

Stantec vs. the Galt Mile

Eleven years ago, Galt Mile officials uncovered a shell game in a Water & Sewer rate schedule created by City consultant Burton & Associates. While publicly applauding the plan’s standardized rate tiers for all residential customers, City officials never mentioned how an accompanying block rate schedule forced multi-family homeowners to subsidize their counterparts in Single Family homes.

After a decade of fighting to mitigate this abuse, Galt Mile officials finally achieved rate parity for association homeowners in September 2019, when the City Commission approved the proposed 2020 Water & Sewer rates. Since city consultant Stantec acquired Burton & Associates in 2016, the same “expert” who created the billing disparity in 2009 was integrally involved with the new rate schedule, and had attempted to once again skew multi-family Water & Sewer rates.

With the support of City Commissioners Heather Moraitis, Steve Glassman, Ben Sorensen, Robert McKinzie and Mayor Dean Trantalis, Stantec’s poison pill was excised, and an equitable new rate schedule was enacted. However, while Galt Mile water & sewer customers finally won a level playing field, Stantec was planning to create a new billing disparity – in a proposed formula for Stormwater rates. 

Burton – An Old Dog with Old Tricks

The City’s projected $1 billion stormwater plan will allocate the proceeds of an initial $200 million bond issue to control the watersheds in the 7 City neighborhoods most vulnerable to flooding – including Dorsey Riverbend; Durrs, Edgewood, Progresso, River Oaks, Southeast Isles and Victoria Park. Funding these projects will require a 54 percent increase in stormwater rates. Instead of assessing ratepayers a citywide 54 percent price hike, the Wonder Boys in Stantec decided to impose a 34% premium on Single Family homes while burdening association homeowners with a crushing 84% cost increase.

Not surprisingly, the basis for this new disparity has no relationship to a property’s exposure to stormwater impacts nor the actual cost of mitigating those impacts. As such, Galt Mile officials will have to educate Commissioners about the inherent inequity in Stantec’s formula, while illuminating a predilection of Stantec Guru Michael Burton to craft irrational criteria that fiscally abuses association homeowners 

Otherwise, association homeowners will once again be forced to subsidize their neighbors in Single-Family homes, an outcome that has long resonated with Mr. Burton. For District 1 Commissioner Heather Moraitis’ November 2019 message to constituents, see elsewhere in this edition. – [editor]*