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How New Bills Could Affect Palm Beach

 

Town of Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio, Town Councilmembers, Town Manager, and other Town of Palm Beach staff are paying very close attention to a few of the senate and house bills recently proposed by state officials. The main concern is that some of the proposed legislation could dramatically and directly affect Palm Beach Island.

The proposed House Bill 345 requires municipalities to pay for local firefighters and paramedics with cancer. It also requires the town to pay for physical exams. Town Manager Tom Bradford told us that there would be financial issues attached if the bill gets passed such as the pre-employment cost for hiring firefighters and paramedics. He explained that the costs would be higher because, “any cancer found in an employed firefighter or paramedic would be deemed to be work related.” He also told us that town staff considers this to be a bad piece of legislation and an “unfunded mandate from Tallahassee to the local governments throughout all of Florida.” He, alongside other town staff, are urging elected officials to object the bill.

The next projected piece of legislation that could deeply affect the Town is House Bill 7059, which proposes a state-wide municipal election date. Bradford said, “This bill is considered to be a usurpation of home rule authority granted to the municipalities within the State of Florida to decide what is best for its community. The legislation ignores local history, tradition and seasonality of many communities throughout Florida who will find a November election date to be inconvenient for residents having a summer home located elsewhere.” He also stated that some financial constraints would come with the passing of this bill, as funds would need to be reallocated to accommodate for the new costs. “We have directed our lobbyists to seek to thwart passage of this legislation or to modify it to be more favorable in terms of the financial impact to Palm Beach and the inherent seasonality of our community.”

How New Bills Could Affect Palm Beach

Senate Bill 896 requires the Town to pay for the movement of a utility as a result of construction. Bradford explained, “For many municipalities in Florida it will affect who bears the cost of relocating utilities. The bill will have little impact in Palm Beach as we currently respect the rights of utilities located within bona fide easements throughout town. In addition, the bill preserves the right of the town to cause the utilities to bear the expense of relocating their utilities in the event of a roadway related modification.” Because, this bill does not have much of an effect in Palm Beach, local officials are impartial to the outcome.

The Town of Palm Beach’s tax payers and voters could be affected if any of these pieces of legislation are passed; some pieces causing more disturbance than others. But, town staff are working diligently with lobbyists to ensure that residents are taken care of.

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Carter is obsessed with breaking news and has written for several newspapers and blogs around the country.

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