By Richard Mundy
For Hometown News
Ormond Beach doesn't have a high-price lobbying firm, so at a March 5 meeting the City Commission agreed to a do-it-yourself lobbying effort.
"We took it upon ourselves to draft a list of what were our key elements we would like to seek some legislative support on," City Manager Joyce Shanahan said. "Commissioners (Troy) Kent and (Bill) Partington will be attending the National Cities Conference in Washington, D.C. and they are going to visit legislative representatives."
The two intend to meet with U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida.
Part of their agenda is a concern over results of the sequestration, which would cut $600 million from the Federal Aviation Administration budget for the remainder of the fiscal year. The cuts could impact operations at the Ormond Beach Municipal Airport, closing the tower, and impact economic development.
Part of the argument against closing the tower is Ormond Beach would lose significant safety benefits of air traffic control services. Reduction or removal of control tower services could have a negative impact on airport facilities, perhaps creating an unsafe burden on other airports that maintain such services. It would result in reduced fuel sales, maintenance and support services, which means reduced revenue, lost jobs and greater stress upon an already tenuous local economy.
Also, they will be requesting funding for improvements to the Interstate 95 and US 1 interchange.
In his report, Commissioner Kent said, "Mayor, a lot of pressure on this D.C. trip, because on the last trip we did come home with serious dollars for Ormond Beach, and ... I know Commissioner Partington and I will do our darndest to make sure we do a repeat performance. And one of my major goals is to (see Rep.) DeSantis ... and when we leave (he's) going to know where Ormond Beach is and what Ormond Beach is."
Commissioner Partington remarked, "I would say ditto Mr. Mayor, because I can't say it any better than Commissioner Kent ... did."
In other business, the commission voted unanimously to support an amendment to change the Florida law prohibiting consideration of price when selecting those who provide professional services, such as architects, engineers, landscapers, surveyors and mappers. It joined forces with a number of other associations and counties requesting the change.
In his closing remarks Mayor Ed Kelley thanked the Volusia County Board for voting to make the Romano Beach Front Park a traffic free beach. "We're not taking away anything from anyone; we're giving something else to everyone in the public park," he said.