First up are the initial and supplemental study areas. The short answer is that it’s all about timing.
Town of Perdido’s proposed boundaries. The numbers are existing county Supervisor of Elections voting precincts, and the purple line designates the boundaries as of the August 2023 feasibility study. The study will be updated in Fall 2023 to consider the supplemental areas, a portion of precinct 95 and a portion of precinct 55. Continue reading below to learn more about these areas and why they were considered.
The feasibility study began on February 1, 2023, and had to be completed by the state’s deadline of September 1. BJM Consulting requested information from the Florida Department of Revenue (Florida DOR) for the study in February and received the data in March. Community input identified the supplemental areas in March. The firm would have needed more time to wait for a second Florida DOR request and complete the study on time. Other communities in similar situations waited for the required fiscal year update before adding supplemental areas for analysis. It is also common to see boundary adjustments during the legislative process. Once the Florida House and Senate vote, the proposed boundaries are finalized within the text of the adopted bill. This bill becomes a local referendum, and then it is up to the voters to accept or reject the referendum at the ballot box.
So why is there a required fiscal year update? What does that mean? The study relies on data from both the county and the state. The county’s fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30, while the state’s runs from July 1 through June 30. The timing is further complicated as the state’s and county’s current fiscal year always rely on revenue from the previous tax year. And remember the “due date” for the study is September 1. Research firms submit these studies with initial numbers of the prior fiscal year, then update them after submission to get the most accurate picture of the financial feasibility. The best timing for this update is on or after October 1, when the state and county fiscal years have restarted within the current calendar year.
Next up are the partial precincts on the map. The Florida statutes require “compact and contiguous” boundaries. Often, this means delineated by major roadways or geographic boundaries. Precincts and US Census tract boundaries are helpful for research, as local governments thoughtfully define these areas. But the real world is messy. Initially, the study cut off a portion of precinct 95 (Coral Creek/Target) as it was on the opposite side of Blue Angel Parkway (FL-173). Subsequent analysis suggested that, in this case, it might be better to keep precinct 95 intact as a people group and to preserve the precinct. The partial area of precinct 55 was designated as it helps line up the northeastern boundaries with a state (FL-173) and federal roadway (US HW98). Including the meandering northern part of precinct 55 went against the “compact and contiguous” guidance.
Again, once the required fiscal year update is complete, we will have a more complete picture of the financial aspects of including the supplementary areas. This data will be available and updated in the feasibility study prior to the 2024 legislative session. Proposed boundaries must be finalized before the 2024 legislative vote (Jan/Feb 2024).
See also: How are the Town Boundaries Determined?