Donaldsons response to county concerns - THE ONLY DELETIONS IN .doc by handongqp

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									THE ONLY DELETIONS IN THIS BILL ARE LINES 292-300, WHICH SHE
HERSELF HIGHLIGHTED AND STRUCK THROUGH. ALL OF THE OTHER
ISSUES THAT YOU ORIGINALLY IDENTIFIED STILL REMAIN. ALSO, PLEASE
LOOK CAREFULLY AT THE HIGHLIGHTS I HAVE MADE ON LINES 76, 79, 261,
267, 276, 278, 281, 284 AND 290. THESE ARE REFERENCES TO PROVIDING
EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES SHE LEFT IN AND DID NOT REMOVE.

This is correct. I never stated that all references regarding “emergency medical services”
would be eliminated from the legislation. Rather, I stated in writing and verbally that the
exemption from the requirement to receive a COPCN before being able to be state
licensed as an ALS provider was eliminated. This was eliminated. As a result, existing
law is applicable. In the powers section of the legislation (lines 290-292), the legislation
states that “the district may establish and maintain emergency medical and rescue
response services within the district consistent with section 191.008(1), Florida Statutes,
provisions of chapter 401, Florida Statutes.” Section 191.008(1) states that an
independent special fire control and rescue district “[E]stablish and maintain emergency
medical and rescue response services and acquire and maintain rescue, medical, and other
emergency equipment, pursuant to the provisions of chapter 401 and any certificate of
public convenience and necessity or its equivalent issued thereunder.” Chapter 401,
Florida Statutes, requires a COPCN before the State can issue a license under chapter
401, Florida Statutes. As a result, there are only two ways either of the two new districts
can provide ALS services under current law. The first option is that the new districts
may apply for and receive a COPCN from Collier County and then apply for state
licensure. The second option is that the new districts enter into interlocal agreements
with Collier County regarding the provision of ALS services. Even with the references in
other sections of the bills, the district can only provide this service pursuant to the powers
it is granted.

LINE 79 SHOULD FURTHER READ, "IN ACCORDANCE WITH EXISTING
STATUTES AND COPCN REQUIREMENTS". THIS WOULD CLARIFY THAT
THERE IS NO INTENT TO PROVIDE AN EXEMPTION TO EXISTING LAW.

This statement is located within the purpose section of the legislation. It’s our position
that it does not grant the ability to provide ALS services to the districts. Rather, the
districts are granted the power pursuant to the provision in the powers section of the
charter. As described above, this power is limited by current law in that the districts are
required to receive COPCNs from Collier County.

I have already been in contact with several of the legislators regarding clarifying or
removing this statement. This would be considered a technical amendment and not a
substantive amendment since its only a purpose statement and does not change any of the
substance of the bills.

LINES 102-106 & 117-120 COULD HAVE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES.
LETS SAY IMAGINARY DISTRICTS A & B HAVE A WANDERING NORTH-
SOUTH, COMMON BORDER; PART OF A JUTS TO THE EAST AT THE NORTH
END AND PART OF B JUTS TO THE WEST AT THE SOUTH END. THEY ENTER
INTO AN INTERLOCAL AGREEMENT TO PROVIDE A MORE EVEN N-S
DIVISION. YOU WOULD END UP WITH 2 REGULAR SDA'S & 2 EX-OFFICIAL
SDA'S. THIS COULD BE INTERPRETED AS PROVIDING 4 VOTES [INSTEAD OF
2 VOTES] TOWARDS FORCING A SURTAX REFERENDUM.... SEE LINES 482-
491.

 First, the above scenario could not occur under the proposed legislation. On lines 473-
477, the local bill clearly states that in determining the number of participating
jurisdictions as it relates to surtax, Ex-Officio SDAs are excluded (lines 476-477). This
was not an attempt to force the surtax issue. Rather, it was a way to avoid
disincentivizing consolidation efforts.

Under current law, there are ten participating jurisdictions in Collier County. The County
has three (EMS; Ochopee; and Isle of Capri); City of Naples, City of Marco Island and
the five independent special fire control and rescue districts. As a result, there needs to
be six service providers that execute an interlocal agreement before the issue can be
presented to the voters for approval. If this legislation did not include the provision
allowing for each SDA, excluding Ex-Officio SDAs, a situation could arise where Collier
County could exclude the new districts from the receipt of the revenues. For example, if
the existing five fire districts consolidated into two districts or even one district, there
would only be seven/six service providers in Collier County. There would only need to
be four service providers that participate in the surtax interlocal agreement. The new
district/s could be excluded from participating in the interlocal agreement which would
result in the new districts not being able to receive any of the revenues. This may not
occur but we have to consider all alternatives.

LINES 455-468 ARE THE NNFC&RD - PELICAN BAY - CITY OF NAPLES
ANNEXATION ISSUE. The issue of not allowing existing territory to ever be annexed
by let’s say the City of Naples into Pelican Bay, should concern everyone. They could
have a lower cost of fire protection and a greater ISO rating (from a 3 to a 1).

There is no prohibition on annexation. There is no Pelican Bay annexation issue. There
is no requirement that the district is the service provider upon annexation. The language
does not require an area that is annexed to remain within the Paradise Coast or Panther
Creek Fire District and be served by such district. Language that allowed annexations
within a district and required that the district remaining the service provider was removed
this summer. However, the language does state that if a new city is incorporated, it
remains within the boundaries of the Paradise Coast or Panther Creek Fire District. This
language is not targeted at Pelican Bay. In fact, the first time Pelican Bay was mentioned
to me was following the delegation meeting.

The policy behind this provision is that it’s difficult to have a consolidated district or
even two consolidated districts if you could end up with a big hole or several holes in the
middle of it/them. As discussed during a meeting this summer, it is possible that 10-20
years from now, Golden Gate or Ava Maria may want to become a city. The
incorporation could result in a hole in the new district. This may negatively impact the
viability of the district or harm service delivery levels. The legislation attempts to avoid
this situation. This is not new language and is actually what occurred with Bonita
Springs when it was incorporated.

Having said that, there is no method for me to protect the new districts from an
incorporation local bill that preempts this language and makes it not valid within the new
city. If Golden Gate, Pelican Bay or Ava Maria incorporated in the future, they would be
able to address who would be its service provider within its incorporation bill.

THE PROPOSED LEGISLATION WOULD EXEMPT THE CURRENT
REQUIREMENT THAT THE MERGING OF INDEPENDENT SPECIAL FIRE
CONTROL DISTRICTS BE RATIFIED BY THE LEGISLATURE. (EXEMPTION
FROM CURRENT LAW)

As discussed several times, this legislation is seeking preapproval instead of ratification.
Having to ratify any merger creates a barrier to consolidation. A consolidation effort
failed in Manatee County during the legislative process. Without the framework in
place, there is a great time delay between making the decision to consolidate and then
having it become law especially if you miss any of the filing deadlines with the
delegation or the legislation. No matter what, in order for any of these districts to
consolidate, a local bill must be passed by the legislature.

LEGISLATION GRANTS NEW DISTRICT AUTHORITY OTHER REVENUE
RAISING CAPABILITIES WITHOUT A VOTER REFERENDUM, INCLUDING
NEW FEES FOR SERVICE, WITH JUST A SIMPLE MAJORITY VOTE OF THEIR
FIRE BOARD. (EXEMPTION FROM CURRENT LAW)

Under the Florida Constitution, any millage rate of an independent special district must
be approved at referendum. Under Florida Statutes, the first time levy of a non-ad
valorem assessment must be approved at referendum. Both of these are being approved
at referendum as part of the question being put forth to residents. Under Florida Statutes
and the Constitution, no other fees must be approved at referendum or a supermajority
vote. The only other fees the districts have are impact fees and user fees (inspection
fees), which are allowed by existing Florida law. Current law does not require more than
a simple majority vote of the fire board. As it relates to increases in ad valorem taxation,
all statutory requirements as it relates to increases in ad valorem rates (including a
supermajority vote in some scenarios) are applicable to the new districts. There is a lot
of case law on the levy of assessments and how much they can be. There is a very strict
test that must be met or they can be nullified by the courts. Also, if there is an increase
greater than the statutory prescribed allowance, such increase would have to be approved
at referendum. The statute provides that any increase by more than the average annual
growth rate in personal income over the previous five years must be approved at
referendum.
Although the legislation creates two new districts, they do not become operational until
an existing district merges into them. They have no powers to do anything until they
become operational which is 14 days following referendum approval of a merger (lines
59-65). When voters are voting, the referendum question provides that the district will
have the ability to levy an ad valorem millage rate (maximum amount specified) as well
as non-ad valorem assessments and impact fees.

LEGISLATION PROVIDES THAT IN THE EVENT OF ANNEXATION, THE
DISTRICT’S BOUNDARIES SHALL CONTINUE TO INCLUDE THE
INCORPORATED LANDS AND THE DISTRICT WILL REMAIN THE SERVICE
PROVIDER.

As explained above, this provision was eliminated this summer. There is no provision
that states that the district remains the service provider upon annexation. However, lines
102-106, does provide that upon the merger with a district, the district remains the service
provider for those areas that the merging independent special fire district is providing
services pursuant to an interlocal agreement that has been entered into or section 171.093,
Florida Statutes. This is to address annexations that have occurred prior to the merger
since there is an existing obligation to serve such areas.

LEGISLATION PROVIDES THAT THE COST OF NEW FACILITIES AND
EQUIPMENT FOR FIRE PROTECTION AND EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES
WILL BE BORNE BY NEW USERS THROUGH IMPACT FEES FOR CAPITAL
IMPROVEMENTS.

The above italicized language was deleted this summer. Lines 398-399 are existing law
found in section 191.009(4), Florida Statutes. Current law provides that impact fees may
be used “exclusively to acquire, purchase, or construct new facilities or portions thereof
needed to provide fire protection and emergency services to new construction.” This
language is mimicked.

LEGISLATION NO LONGER REQUIRES LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL OR A
REFERENDUM FROM THE PUBLIC FOR THE DISSOLUTION OF A FIRE
DISTRICT. (EXEMPTION FROM CURRENT LAW)

Lines 769-783 and 792-808 provide the referendum question. If you review the
referendum question, it is seeking approval for both the merger and the dissolution of the
voter's existing special district. It's not an either or scenario. If the voter approves the
merger, they recognize that their district will be dissolved.

The voters will be voting on whether their existing fire district should merge into a new
district resulting in their existing district to dissolve.

MS. DONALDSON WORKS FOR EAST NAPLES AND NORTH NAPLES. THE
TWO BILLS ARE FOR EACH OF THEM TO FORM THEIR NEW DISTRICTS
WHICH WILL ALLOW THEM TO CREATE FEES AND PREVENT FUTURE
ANNEXATION OF THEIR EXISTING DISTRICTS. IN FACT, IN A VOTE 4 TO 1,
EAST NAPLES JUST VOTED AT THEIR LAST MEETING NOT TO MERGE WITH
NORTH NAPLES.

I have performed legal work for three of the districts in Collier County. The reason the
legislation was split into two districts was to make the consolidation efforts easier by
having similar districts consolidate first and then have those two districts consolidate into
a single consolidated district. The districts felt it would be easier to merge like districts
first. It also makes the millage rate increases less substantial for some of the districts. I
have asked for a copy of the minutes of the FSSC meeting from this spring when the
discussion occurred. It’s my understanding it was due to discussions between Golden
Gate, Big Corkscrew and Immokalee wanting to form their own district.

I realize that I am providing a lot of information. I apologize in advance. A lot of work has been
put into this effort and I hope it does not become derailed because certain individuals oppose
consolidation of the fire districts into a new independent special fire district.

Laura Donaldson
Manson Law Group PA
1101 West Swann Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33606
813-514-4700

								
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