Monroe County Mayor George Neugent, County Administrator Roman Gastesi and County Legislative Affairs Director Lisa Tennyson spent a busy few days in Tallahassee last week to advocate for legislation and appropriations important to the Florida Keys – and to participate in various meetings involving County issues.
County officials attended a Cabinet Aides meeting, which is a precursor to the more formal Cabinet meeting next week that releases Monroe County’s annual Area of Critical State Concern report. The Aides also received a report about the progress with land acquisition funded with Florida Keys Stewardship Act funding.
Mayor Neugent participated in a Gulf Consortium meeting, where discussion included the significant progress being made on the formulation of the consortium’s State Expenditure Plan. This plan is a critical milestone for the Counties to meet in order to receive RESTORE funding for water quality projects that stems from the BP Oil Spill settlement.
County officials attended the legislative briefings and events of the Florida Association of Counties and the Small County Coalition, whose main lobbying focus this year is asserting county home rule powers in the face of the Legislature’s local government pre-emption bills.
Monroe County officials were among the many representatives of local governments that convened at the House Ways and Means Committee this week to oppose the proposed additional homestead tax exemption, which is estimated to reduce local government revenues by $800 million statewide. Local governments expressed to state lawmakers that this revenue is used for services and infrastructure, as well as supporting the budgets of the constitutional offices.
Neugent, Gastesi and Tennyson also met with state Rep. Holly Raschein and Sen. Anitere Flores to discuss the Keys’ Stewardship appropriation amid the especially tough budget challenges this year. Discussions also included the Senate’s latest iteration of the Everglades Restoration legislation (SB 10), and the benefits of more water storage to help Florida Bay.