Now that the Indian Trail Improvement District’s feasibility study and proposed charter are complete, the short-lived Feasibility and Charter Review Committee has turned them over to a three-person committee of local residents to carry a bill through the legislative process.
That will begin with a review and potential approval by the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation at a meeting set for Thursday, Oct. 28 at the Clayton E. Hutcheson Agricultural Services Center in West Palm Beach.
“Basically, State Rep. Rick Roth (R-District 85) will take it to the legislative delegation for them to review the charter and feasibility study,” said Bob Morgan, president of the Acreage Landowners’ Association and a member of the three-person committee along with Louis Colantuoni Jr. and Elizabeth Accomando.
If the bill is approved by the local delegation, it would go to the full legislature for approval in March 2022. Should it pass both houses of the Florida Legislative and be signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis next year, it would go to a voter referendum during the general election on Nov. 8, 2022.
A delay at any point in the process could change the timeline.
“First we have to get it past the delegation,” Morgan said. “They’re going to review it and make sure the numbers are right.”
One issue that has been raised on social media is that council members’ salaries would be exorbitant, but Morgan said that is untrue.
“I just figured it out today,” he said. “I was actually figuring out what their salaries are going to be. For the mayor, it’s going to be $10.42 an hour… and the commissioners earn less than that. It’s just above minimum wage, and… their annual raises are capped at 1 percent.”
Morgan said his committee has begun an education campaign on issues of incorporation prior to a referendum, including the pros and cons, such as what the municipality could or could not do with codes.
“We’re going to start educating the community sooner rather than later, so we can get the community to understand what the process is, what’s entailed and what has happened in the past,” Morgan said.
Part of that would be making a map of overlays showing every five years and what has happened in and around the area regarding development.
“We’re going to color code it and watch The Acreage shrink,” Morgan said. “The general consensus is, ‘I want to keep it the way it is. We don’t want any change.’ But there has been change over the last 25 to 30 years, and apparently [they’re] not seeing it.”
Assuming the local bill passes, Morgan said he and other committee members are setting up meetings to have debates and discussions. He plans to ask the ALA board if he can ask ITID permission to hold them at Acreage Community Park.
“The ALA has the service agreement with ITID where we can put a permit in and ask to use the park,” he said. “We do want to get the education out there. If it does not get through Gov. DeSantis, we’ve wasted a little bit of time, but to me, it won’t be wasted time, because hopefully, in the near future we can try it again.”
If it does get through Tallahassee, the committee will continue its education efforts to the Nov. 8, 2022, public referendum.
“A lot of people think right now that if DeSantis signs off on it, it’s a done deal and we’re incorporated,” Morgan said. “That’s not the case. The ALA does not want to make a stance that they’re for incorporation. Rather, they are for a referendum to be able to vote for or against incorporation.”
Morgan envisions having discussions twice a month and choosing subjects to discuss, such as code enforcement, which has raised issues with residents who do not agree with county policies that are now in place.
“We could have people submit questions or subjects to discuss,” he said.
He added that the ALA board was able to raise $3,000 during the last incorporation effort to fund expenses and could probably use that money to pay for any expenses for the meetings.
“We’re going to start again with the requests for donations,” Morgan said. “I’m not sure if it’s going to be through the ALA. We’re going to keep adding to that in case we’re blindsided by something that’s going to cost money, we’ll have the funds to do it. ITID is out of the process. They cannot spend any more money.”