Isn’t this just a Perdido Key thing?
This is much larger than just the Key. We found our citizens within the entire greater mainland, from Innerarity across Gulf Beach Highway to NAS Pensacola, all the way up to neighborhoods along Lillian Highway, proudly call Perdido their home, and are concerned about protecting our area’s unique charm. By mainland residents partnering with Perdido Key residents, we can make that a reality. Because in the end, together, we are Perdido.
Why should we form a city?
By incorporating our area as a municipality, we can directly address the local issues we face, make decisions ourselves and return a more significant share of tax dollars to our local community. We can reduce the overall burden on our county by taking control of our own destiny. Citizens can have a local voice in their own city government. Together, we can improve the quality of life for us and our neighbors in the surrounding unincorporated county.
What is this "Government Lite"?
"Government Lite" is a model of municipal incorporation used by many of Florida's award-winning small cities. The model limits government size and taxing capacity while providing its citizens with local control of issues and preserving their local quality of life. Government lite focuses on minimizing costs and addressing citizens' concerns in an efficient, responsive manner. Typically, fewer than a dozen city employees are needed to manage this style of government.
What is the process of forming a city?
It all starts right here, with our citizens, community workgroups, and local support. Florida's Home Rule powers allow local Florida communities to come together and form a municipality. Together the people guide the creation of a feasibility study, a five-year projected budget, and a proposed city charter. These are submitted to our local delegation (Sen. Broxson, Rep. Andrade, and Rep. Salzman) and go through a local subcommittee to become a local bill. The Florida House and Senate vote on this bill; if it passes, the citizens within the proposed boundaries vote to become a municipality.
Would my taxes go up?
A common misconception is that cities are synonymous with high taxes. "Government lite" cities historically have some of the lowest taxes around, sometimes even lower than their county (DeBary, FL for example). A goal of our government lite is to minimize the tax burden on our local community while still providing citizens with a local voice and control. It focuses on issues most important to us as a community while reducing costs through a streamlined government. Understand that cities are funded by more than simply property tax. Tourism tax, user fees, franchise fees, permits, etc., are all sources of revenue. We could redirect some taxes and fees already collected at the county to help us locally. And municipalities have access to millions of dollars in grant money every year. As we develop our Feasibility Study and Five Year Projected Budget, we will learn all the revenue sources available and how to minimize tax implications for our citizens. Together we will clarify the costs and benefits of municipal incorporation, and find creative ways to save money. In the end, this is something our citizens decide.
What would happen with our current services?
Our new city can enter into intergovernmental agreements with the county or negotiate service contracts with private providers. For instance, the city can contract with our county sheriff's department to provide law enforcement services, and ECUA can continue providing water and trash service. Road repairs can easily be handled by private contractors. We can increase or decrease our services as needed. City contract managers would ensure our citizens get the exact level of service they require.
What would happen with zoning and code enforcement?
Our county currently provides building inspections, planning, zoning, and code enforcement services. The intention is to continue these services at the current rate until our new city adopts a comprehensive plan (required within two years of incorporation). County zoning and the Perdido Key Overlay District become our initial framework. If our citizens feel immediate changes or safeguards are necessary, we would include them in a transitional plan. Once our city adopts a comprehensive plan, it assumes local control of the services and can contract them out as needed.
Is this another layer of government?
Our county has over 320,000 residents managed in five districts, with five county commissioners who work together to pass ordinances. Decisions affect the entire county population and get carried out by hundreds of county employees. By contrast, a government-lite municipality empowers its citizens to keep local issues local, with decisions made by residents who understand the local community's needs. Its goal is to remain thin, efficient, and responsive, allowing local control without reinventing the wheel.
As one of our residents, you could more easily make your voice heard by decision-makers who live right here in our neighborhoods and understand the challenges we face as a community. Committees of residents and business owners could work hand in hand with elected leaders to help preserve the Perdido area charm.
Who is funding this effort?
We Are Perdido is a volunteer organization, and everything you see so far – initial research, the website, videos, and our first community meeting – is due to the time investment and commitment of these volunteers. Despite operating on these volunteer efforts, there are costs associated with research and the process of establishing a new town. A few citizens within the Perdido community offered to kick-start the research process through initial donations. Continuing the effort will only be possible through the contributions of generous Perdido citizens like you.
Who paid for the first community meeting?
Our first community meeting was made possible through countless hours of hard work from committed volunteers, all coming together to make it happen. We've got some pretty amazing people here in this community! Lynn Tipton and the Florida League of Cities donated their time and insisted on covering their own expenses. Liberty Church graciously opened their doors, providing the community with a beautiful meeting space.
I don’t agree. How can I stop this?
We welcome diverse opinions! The whole point of our neighborhood groups is that you can voice your opinions as citizens, discuss options, and help us find the best solution for our community as a whole. It may seem contrary to your past experiences, but we really do value your input. Come to our meetings and be prepared to discuss your concerns and the needs of your neighborhood. We're not forcing municipal incorporation on anyone. In the end, if this makes it to a public vote, it is your right to vote however you wish, and we support that. What we’re after is to improve our community with your help, and to give you a voice and power to make an informed decision. And as always, if you have questions, feel free to ask them below.