After two marathon budget meetings last month, the Village Council may want to pump the brakes a bit for Tuesday’s regular meeting. Could elected officials actually wrap up before 10:30 p.m.?
Certainly, after critics mobilized to speak out against the $41.2 million spending plan on Sept. 26, the new agenda appears light on drama – but not substance.
Police Chief Frank Sousa will update the Council on his priorities for the coming year, including the ever-present problem of juveniles on their motorized scooters and e-bikes. He will tell the dais again about the safety hazard presented by these scooters, which he says is his department’s No. 1 priority.
Last month, a 12-year-old ended up being sent to the hospital after being hit by a car. It was the third e-scooter collision in a 24-hour period. Village Manager Steve Williamson has said he is working with Miami-Dade County Commissioner Raquel Regalado on a solution for scooters on Crandon Boulevard, a county road.
Sousa will also request the $73,000 purchase of 38 bulletproof vests. The Village purchased 36 such vests and other protective gear in 2019 for $60,000.
The police department says the vests on hand are expiring or will expire this year – each one has a 5-year limited warranty. The replacement vests, which were part of the budget just passed, are considerably lighter and provide more flexibility.
The money will come from the asset forfeiture fund.
Suddenly, there is controversy over the Village providing taxpayer money for the event formerly known as Key Biscayne Car week. The Village has set aside $26,400 for the event.
Now called the Emerson Fittipaldi De L’Élégance, the event is no longer sponsored by the Key Biscayne Community Foundation. At the last budget meeting, Mayor Joe Rasco expressed trepidation with providing continued funding for the car week scheduled for Dec. 15-17.
The event brings Formula One race cars to the Village for display along with a number of corresponding interactive activities and a gala.
The Council will hear from event organizers. Williamson said at the Sept. 26 budget meeting that he supports helping the event out as it tries to get on its feet without the assistance of the KBCF.
“We gave them the challenge to come back with even a better program this year,” Williamson said. “I would suggest we give it a chance, see where it goes.”
Williamson would not elaborate why the KBCF is no longer involved with the event. ]
The infrastructure and resilience project – now estimated at $310 million – comes up in at least two agenda items for Tuesday night.
Mayor Rasco has put on the agenda a discussion on a meeting schedule for the project to combat sea level rise that will replace the current drainage system with one that is pump-driven, underground utilities, and reinforce the coastline.
Rasco has challenged Williamson to put shovels in the ground. Council members, though, at the August meeting expressed concern that the estimated cost of the massive project is increasing substantially.
As for those shovels in the ground, the Council will need to approve a $927,000 work order for the engineering firm AECOM to continue designing the first-phase of the project: the neighborhood to the South of the Community Center known as the K-8.
This is the third work order for AECOM and it will include additional modeling scenarios for level of service – meaning the firm will give the Village options if it decides to go with a less expensive system that takes longer to remove standing water from the streets.
The cost of the work order may go down a little easier after the Council hears that the Village is in line to get a $890,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection to help complete the design of the K-8 project.