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Indian River Lagoon Cleanup Forums Underway; Oversight Panel Sought

Posted on September 20, 2016

By Dave Berman, Florida Today

A series of forums has begun on Brevard County’s plan to help clean up the Indian River Lagoon — and on the half-cent-on-the dollar sales tax that would be used to help pay for it.

Separately, Brevard County’s Natural Resources Management Department is seeking applicants from people interested in serving on a Citizen Oversight Committee, should Brevard County voters approve the sales tax on Nov. 8.

Natural Resources Management Department Director Virginia Barker is making presentations at 20 events in the area. Many are open to the general public, while others are before such organizations as business groups, including chambers of commerce and real estate organizations; homeowners’ associations; and political organizations.

Among the public forums scheduled this coming week:

6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19 at the Titusville City Council chambers, 555 S. Washington Ave.

6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22 at the Indian Harbour Beach Gleason Center, 1233 Yacht Club Blvd.

Barker said, during the forums, she provides only factual information about the county’s Save Our Indian River Lagoon Project Plan and answers questions for the audience, since she and other county officials cannot advocate for or against the plan.

At many of the forums, either County Commission Chairman Jim Barfield or Vice Chairman Curt Smith also is in attendance, as is a representative of a political action committee that has been formed to advocate for the plan.

The proposal — which Brevard County voters will consider as part of the Nov. 8 ballot — calls for a half-cent-on-the-dollar special sales tax for the next 10 years that would raise a total of $340 million. Most of the money would be use for muck dredging.

If voters approve, the sales tax is designed to pay for the Save Our Lagoon Project Plan devised by Brevard County’s Natural Resources Management Department and outside consultants. That plan for restoring the lagoon within Brevard County includes such things as muck removal, stormwater projects, upgrades to wastewater treatment facilities, septic system removal and upgrades, fertilizer management, oyster reef projects and public education.

The county describes the plans as being “designed to use science and data to achieve regulatory compliance cost-effectively; to maximize benefits; minimize risks; and optimize return on investment, while fostering innovation and adaptation.”

The proposed sales tax would cost the average Brevard County household about $61 a year.

Barker said she has received “very good feedback” so far at the six presentations she has made in the last two weeks.

For more information, on the Save Our Indian River Lagoon Project Plan, go to the Brevard County Natural Resources Management Department website:

Oversight panel details

The Natural Resources Management Department is seeking residents with specific expertise and experience to represent the interests of Brevard residents by voluntarily serving on a new Citizen Oversight Committee for the Save Our Indian River Lagoon Project Plan.

Appointed members and their alternates would “provide public oversight and transparency for annual reviews and updates of the plan to ensure implementation of the best, most timely and cost-effective means and methods for restoring the Indian River Lagoon,” the county said in a news release announcing the application process.

Members would oversee progress and make recommendations to the County Commission on spending money from sales tax revenue over a 10-year period.

The committee responsibilities include evaluating data to measure progress toward plan implementation and lagoon health; reviewing technology and alternative project proposals for reducing pollutants and improving water quality; assessing the cost-effectiveness of the projects; and recommending plan revisions. The committee would meet several times a year to review progress reports, proposed revisions and seek consensus on recommendations.

Applicants must commit to serving the public interest by providing stewardship over the plan and must demonstrate expertise and experience in one or more of the following fields: science, technology, economics/finance, real estate, education/outreach, tourism or lagoon advocacy. Also, knowledge of the lagoon’s water quality issues and major sources of pollution affecting lagoon health are “highly desirable,” the county said.

Basic requirements include:

Education and experience in one or more of the specified fields.

Community or public service and residence in Brevard County.

Willingness to serve a two-year term and participate in committee meetings, as needed.

How to apply

To apply to be a member of the Citizen Oversight Committee for the Save Our Indian River Lagoon Project Plan. submit an application, resume and at least one letter of recommendation to the Brevard County Natural Resources Management Department by Oct. 1. Call 321-633-2016 or email for an application.

Source: Florida Today

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