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LA-MSID passes resolution on its role if incorporation occurs

December 20, 2017
By MELISSA BILL (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District's board approved a resolution to grow its powers as outlined by state law and serve as the foundation for municipal incorporation.

At its Dec. 11 meeting, the board voted 5-0 in favor of Resolution 18-03, which "expresses the Legislators intention to eventually create a city in Lehigh Acres that grows out of" the LA-MSID, the documents state. Commissioner Michael Welch, the board chair, explained the reason behind it.

"This is a way to outline who we are and the role we would have the day that Lehigh does incorporate," he said.

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MELISSA BILL
At its Dec. 11 meeting, the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District’s board approved a
a resolution to grow its powers as outlined by state law and serve as the foundation for municipal incorporation.

Florida Statute allows the district to provide up to five new powers, including signage, planning, streetlights, sidewalks, and water and sewer, following a fully-executed agreement with Lee County and a voter referendum. According to officials, LA-MSID is negotiating with the county to provide signage via an agreement, with a referendum planned for the 2018 November election.

"As the population and the taxable value of Lehigh Acres continue to grow, LA-MSID will continue to work with Lee County to expand its powers," Welch said. "When the time is right, LA-MSID will be the political vehicle to petition the state and affected voters for the municipal incorporation of Lehigh Acres. The municipality would originate, reorganize, grow and operate from what is now known as the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District."

He acknowledged that there are misconceptions in regards to the resolution.

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"Other groups will come forward and say they are looking out for the well being of Lehigh, but we were the ones that were actually voted in," Welch said.

Commissioner Mike Bonacolta also weighed in.

"The main problems during the last incorporation attempt was the lack of leadership in Lehigh," he said. "I think this can build that trust that government can work."

Another agenda item pertained to creating a more localized disaster readiness plan.

"The best way to address future planning is with local planning," Welch said. "One way would be to designate a board member who takes the reigns prior to and after a disaster, such as Hurricane Irma. One that oversees the district's efforts and coordinates with other organizations."

The Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District could play an integral role.

"Our relationship with the fire district has grown to a new level," Welch said. "I brought up the idea with fire district Commissioner Cathy Kruse and they are very excited about being part of it."

Welch also proposed that the fire district build its new headquarters on the same property as the LA-MSID as a sign to residents that local agencies are working together.

"These steps are part of the district moving along and maturing to assume a greater leadership role," he said.

A recent topic that was tabled from the board's November meeting was added to the agenda. It surrounded the LA-MSID's dissatisfaction with its current legal representation.

According to District Manager David Lindsay, there have been many circumstances where Caldwell Pacetti Edwards Schoech & Viator has lacked when it came to legal support on multiple projects.

Lindsay went over two options for the board's consideration.

One option was to give the law firm a 77-day notice of the cancelation, with its representation of the LA-MSID ending on Feb. 26. This option would allow the board ample time to find new counsel.

The other option was to allow the law firm to finish out the remainder of its contract.

"This has been a very hard decision for me," Welch said. "The attorney representing the board resigned last month upon my request. Now we need to decide if we are going to stay with Pacetti Edwards Schoech & Viator or seek other counsel."

The board voted in favor of the first option, with the caveat that the existing firm be allowed to participate in the process.

"I think option one is the best choice," Welch said. "Moving forward we need an attorney that will be with us for the long haul."

The board also held a public hearing prior to the regular meeting, which allowed residents to voice their opinions about the district's uniform ad valorem method of collecting non-ad valorem assessments.

The LA-MSID will hold its next meeting on Jan. 22 at 5:30 p.m. at 601 East County Lane. For information, visit online at www.myecwcd.net.

 
 

 

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