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Crab Island regulations + the FWB Fire Fee vote

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Crab Island regulations + the FWB Fire Fee vote
By Get The Coast • Issue #109 • View online
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🚨This is lengthy: Today’s newsletter is more lengthy than usual and it has less topics. But the two main topics below are totally worth reading up on and being informed.

TL;DR
Here are the following changes to the Crab Island ordinance in case you only want the highlights:
  • Increase fee structure for Floating Structures and impose a fee on all vessels that engage in commercial activity.
  • Limit vessels and floating structures operating within the Crab Island Entertainment Area to only 15 licenses per year.
  • Propellers of all vessels and floating structures shall be equipped with cages.
  • Vessels or floating structures must pick up passengers from a properly permitted and licensed private commercial facility.
  • All floating structures will be banned effective January 1, 2021.
Here are the following changes to the Fire Fee in case you only want the highlights:
The recommended Fire Services Assessment Rates, effective January 1, 2020, will be:
  • $80.00 per year per equivalent residential unit for Residential Property
  • $0.07 per square foot per year for Commercial Property
  • $0.02 per square foot per year for Industrial/Warehouse Property
  • $0.00 per square foot per year for Institutional Property
Go deeper: Continue reading below to know more!
The future of Crab Island entertainment
Today at 1:30pm, the Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners will hold a workshop to discuss the status of of the Floating Structures.
Some quick background:
  • At the July 10, 2018 Board meeting, the Board of County Commissioners adopted an ordinance regulating floating structures and the waterborne sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages.
  • Upon adoption of the ordinance, the Board requested a citizens committee be formed to review the ordinance to see if any changes were necessary to make it more effective.
  • The Board approved the formation and composition of the committee at your February 19, 2019 meeting.
There was then the formation of a Citizens Committee to review the regulations to see if they could be enhanced. This included:
  • City of Destin: Councilman Rodney Braden
  • Destin Chamber of Commerce: Dion Moniz
  • Fort Walton: Chamber of Commerce: Vincent W. Mayfield
  • Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council: Kenneth Wampler
  • Livery Service: John Duplantis
  • Vendor: Karen Perkins
  • Recreational User: Mike Buckingham
This year the Gulf Islands National Seashore started requiring commercial use agreements for all businesses who are vending on Crab Island to gather information as it relates to the commercial use activity on Crab Island.
  • They have issued twenty-six (26) permits to vendors this calendar year.
  • Included in the list of vendors are twelve (12) floating structures which are regulated by the County’s ordinance.
  • The floating structures were issued permits by the County to either operate for several months or for the season which ends on October 31, 2019.
  • Starting in 2020 the floating structures are prohibited from staying on Crab Island overnight.
The Floating Structures Committee has met since April of this year and is recommending the following changes to the ordinance:
Increase fee structure for Floating Structures and impose a fee on all vessels that engage in commercial activity in the Crab Island Entertainment Area. This increased fee structure will include that the businesses pay a percentage of its monthly revenue which will require the development of audit and records review requirements for these businesses.
Limit vessels and floating structures operating within the Crab Island Entertainment Area to only 15 licenses per year. A mechanism will be need to be developed to regulate the manner that these licenses are granted.
Propellers of all vessels and floating structures shall be equipped with cages.
Vessels or floating structures operating in Crab Island Entertainment Area must pick up passengers from a properly permitted and licensed private commercial facility.
All floating structures will be banned effective January 1, 2021.
The following agencies have endorsed the recommendations of the Floating Structures Committee:
  • Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council
  • City of Destin
  • Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce
  • Destin Area Chamber of Commerce
The Fire Assessment Fee that is on 🔥
At tonight’s Fort Walton Beach City Council meeting, the council will decide whether or not to adopt the resolution and put into place the Fire Assessment Fee.
What we know: Fire Services Assessment funds can only be utilized for fire protection programs and services. The assessment will replace approximately $2.5M in General Fund dollars, allowing those funds to be used for other Public Safety enhancements.
The City would like some of the enhancements to include:
  • Addition of six (6) firefighting positions in the Fort Walton Beach Fire Department (two (2) personnel added to each of the three (3) shifts).
  • Upgrade of the current Rescue 6 Medical Unit to an Engine Company (Fire Engine purchased with Half-Cent Surtax revenues).
  • Restoration of the Deputy Fire Chief position.
  • Addition of three (3) police officers to create a new law enforcement zone in the Kenwood neighborhood.
  • Improvements to the City’s emergency management capabilities.
  • Investment in the wages and benefits for all current and potential City employees.
The Utility Billing Method of collection is being recommended for the Assessment in lieu of placing the Assessment on the annual property tax bill. This is making a lot of people really mad! (link)
Here’s the initial fee breakdown:
  • $160.00 per year per equivalent residential unit for Residential Property
  • $0.17 per square foot per year for Commercial Property
  • $0.04 per square foot per year for Industrial/Warehouse Property
  • $0.37 per square foot per year for Institutional Property
According to City documents, the City currently maintains 30% of expenditures in the General Fund. As of September 30, 2019, the City had approximately $2.3M over and above what is required to be maintained by this Policy.
It can be reduced: The funding needed from the Fire Services Assessment in the first two (2) years can by reduced to $1.2M per year due to the following:
  • Utilizing General Fund Unassigned Fund Balance for FY 2019-20 and FY 2020-21 in the amount of $860,092 per year.
  • Receiving the award of the SAFER Grant in the amount of $362,430 per year in Year 1 and Year 2, and $169,134 in Year 3.
  • Delaying the hire of the six (6) new firefighters until February 2020.
The recommended Fire Services Assessment Rates, effective January 1, 2020, will be:
  • $80.00 per year per equivalent residential unit for Residential Property
  • $0.07 per square foot per year for Commercial Property
  • $0.02 per square foot per year for Industrial/Warehouse Property
  • $0.00 per square foot per year for Institutional Property
If approved by City Council, Fire Service Assessment collections would begin January 1, 2020 and would be included on the corresponding utility bill for the month.
Whew...I know that was long
If you made it to the end, thank you! I know that was much longer than any other email but these 2 issues have been a really hot topic!
Tomorrow we will be back to our normal (less wordy) morning newsletter!
Have a great Tuesday!
Jared
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