More Corbett Levee Funding Among Legislative Goals

The remaining $4 million of the $8 million estimated cost to reinforce the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area levee separating it from The Acreage will be a major item in the legislative goals set by Palm Beach County staff, according to a report made Tuesday by Legislative Affairs Coordinator Todd Bonlarron to the Palm Beach County Commission.

“We’re going to go back and seek the additional dollars that we need for the Corbett infrastructure, on top of the $4 million that we got for the levee last year,” Bonlarron said.

Other goals include economic development, particularly in the Glades. “We’ve spent some time out there with the governor recently and are continuing to look at some of those priorities in that region, which include water treatment system infrastructure upgrades, road transportation increases in the area, as well as workforce needs that are required in the communities surrounding Lake Okeechobee,” Bonlarron said.

Gaming will be a hot topic in Tallahassee this year, and Palm Beach County will be looking for parity for its existing pari-mutuel, the Palm Beach Kennel Club, to make sure it is on an even playing field with other pari-mutuels in the state, he said. Increasing state incentives to bring film and television production to Florida is another hot topic.

In the area of environmental and natural resources, Bonlarron said the Lake Worth Lagoon initiative was recently included, at the county’s request, in a state proposal dealing with Lake Okeechobee and discharges of polluted water to the St. Lucie River. It was recently pointed out by county environmental officials that the Lake Worth Lagoon also receives polluted discharge.

New issues include the reconfiguration of the S-155 control structure, which controls stormwater flow into the Lake Worth Lagoon.

“Water resource development… is going to be a significant issue this session and will be very much a part of that mixture in debate,” Bonlarron said.

The issue of guns remains a key topic in Tallahassee, especially when taken from a mental health perspective.

“To carry that another step forward, we have been working with our mental health community on a pilot program here in Palm Beach County on helping to serve some of those in our community that both have substance abuse and mental health problems,” he said.

Regarding domestic violence, county staff has been working to provide additional assistance to victims, particularly those who want to get out of leases in order to move to other places. “As well, we are looking at some of the best practices in counties around the state,” he said, adding that they are also looking at an Illinois county that has enacted a mandatory treatment program for perpetrators of domestic violence.

To address homelessness, Bonlarron said the county will work on Mayor Priscilla Taylor’s initiative to develop a dedicated funding source from the state and expanding the ability locally to provide additional financing. The county will also be supporting local cultural organizations, including the South Florida Science Museum, in their requests for expansion money.

In the area of growth management, Commissioner Mary Lou Berger said that at a recent Florida Association of Counties policy meeting, she reviewed policies that it will bring forward during the next legislative session and found provisions for regional planning councils that she wanted incorporated into the county’s growth management and infrastructure policy to see that developments of regional impact (DRIs) have a heightened review process, since the review process had been eliminated at the state level.

“We’re including some support changes that strengthen the intergovernmental review process and remove DRIs from that, insure that development impacts occurring outside the approving jurisdiction are adequately mitigated, and eliminate unnecessary duplication and expenses,” Bonlarron said.

The wording changes also support full financing of regional planning councils and oppose legislation prohibiting or restricting the ability of a regional council to provide planning and technical services to local governments.