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Following the example of many cities and counties, DeBary has picked a lobbyist to give the city an extra voice and more political muscle in the halls of power in Tallahassee.
With no objection, the City Council Aug. 4 agreed to hire Shawn Foster and his firm, Sunrise Consulting Group, to lobby lawmakers and administrative officials to act favorably on DeBary’s requests for state grants, especially for capital projects. City Manager Carmen Rosamonda had recommended DeBary contract with a lobbyist, and Foster was his choice for the post.
“We need to be there almost every single day in the session,” Rosamonda said.
The 2022 annual 60-day session begins Jan. 11 and ends March 11, but the committees of the Florida House of Representatives and the Senate will conduct hearings on issues affecting the state before the session begins.
In exchange for Foster’s services in the state capital, DeBary will pay $12,000 for the six-month period beginning Sept. 1 and ending Feb. 28, 2022.
Rosamonda’s memorandum for the DeBary City Council described how Foster could benefit the city.
“After last year’s unsuccessful attempt to secure funding, it became clear we must be able to reach additional legislators who can assist in garnering support,” the paper reads. “This requires someone who knows legislators and already has the strong relationships with them. Shawn Foster of the Sunrise Consulting Group meets these criteria.”
Foster is the president and founder of Sunrise Consulting, whose offices are in New Port Richey.
Rosamonda and council members say they hope for state funding to deal with critical infrastructure needs; namely grants to offset some of the costs of installing a sewer system around Gemini Springs. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is mandating the city — and Volusia County, which provides utility service to DeBary — to transition more than 700 homes from septic tanks to a centralized sewer system over the next few years.
The existing septic tanks, according to the FDEP, are polluting the springs with excessive levels of nitrogen, and the state agency is requiring DeBary to make the septic-to-sewer conversion to improve the quality of water flowing into Gemini Springs, which has been closed for swimming for more than 20 years.
The latest estimated cost of the new sewer system is $54 million, but county officials and representatives of their consultant for the project, Jones Edmunds, say that figure may increase, given the length of time for the project and the rising prices for construction materials.
Unless outside funding is coming from the state and/or federal governments, each of the homeowners in the affected area around Gemini Springs may be billed several thousand dollars to make the required connection to the sewer system.
Rosamonda also said he would like to see state aid for the construction of DeBary’s second fire station. The facility is to be built on land the city owns on the north side of Fort Florida Road, west of the CSX railroad track.
“I think this decision is the right move at this time,” Mayor Karen Chasez said about hiring a lobbying firm.

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