110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Al Everson
posted Dec 17, 2013 - 10:39:19am
Heeding the call of freshman Rep. David Santiago, the Deltona City Commission has hired a lobbying firm and made its wish list for the state Capitol in Tallahassee.
When the Florida Legislature convenes March 4, Deltona’s elected leaders will seek state funding for the city’s infrastructure needs, as well as asking for new laws to boost economic development and protect residents from costly state mandates.
“If that groundwork is not laid, then we are wasting our time,” City Commissioner Chris Nabicht said, during a Dec. 9 workshop on the city’s maiden lobbying effort.
One of Deltona’s top goals will be obtaining grants for public works, especially roads and water and sewer projects to spur commercial and industrial growth in the bedroom community.
As Volusia County completes the six-laning of Saxon Boulevard in Orange City, Nabicht and his colleagues hope to press the state for funds to widen Deltona’s share of Saxon Boulevard — at least between Interstate 4 and Normandy Boulevard.
“Once we commit to these [goals], we’ve got to have shovel-ready projects,” Nabicht said.
Those projects may include encouraging redevelopment in older parts of Deltona, notably along Deltona Boulevard between I-4 and Deltona Plaza. That segment of the gateway corridor has several sites of former businesses that may have contaminated soil or groundwater. Such environmentally damaged sites can be designated as brownfields, and Deltona’s leaders would like the state to do more to lure investors to bring new businesses into the depressed areas of the city. Perhaps, they suggested, the brownfields may be consolidated into enterprise zones and community-redevelopment areas.
While they welcome state dollars to expand sewer service in Deltona’s commercial zones, the mayor and commissioners do not want an order from Tallahassee to compel homeowners now relying on septic tanks to make a costly transition to urban sewer service.
“It would be devastating to our residents if they had to pay $16,000 to hook up to a sewer,” Vice Mayor Zenaida Denizac said.
“We don’t want to support anything that would force anybody to hook up,” Mayor John Masiarczyk said.
The City Commission would additionally like to have state aid to expand bus service in Deltona.
“We want to support more funding for Votran,” Masiarczyk said.
The mayor noted the SunRail commuter train service is supposed to begin operating in 2014, and Deltonans will need bus rides to the train depots.
Nabicht asked about adding Deltona to the Orlando-area transit system.
“Is it possible for LYNX to come up this far?” he asked.
The City Commission may also ask for state dollars to deal with Deltona’s social problems, particularly homelessness and substance abuse.
“We don’t have a shelter here,” Denizac said. “You have people living in cars. You have several families living in houses.”
Deltona has contracted with Capitol Insight, a Tallahassee lobbying firm, to press its case with state lawmakers and to monitor legislation. Capitol Insight will also work with state executive and administrative agencies in looking out for the city’s interest.
The City Commission has allocated as much as $50,000 for lobbying activities during the 2013-14 fiscal year.
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