Chamber Advocacy Update – January 26, 2015


As part of your Chamber Business Advocacy Committee’s goal of monitoring, informing, communicating and advocating on your behalf regarding important issues impacting local businesses, listed below are highlights for the upcoming local government meetings during the week of January 26. Chamber representatives will participate in support of your business and joining with our partners toward enhancing our region’s economic climate.

Below you will find a brief description of those issues on the public agenda that you may find of special interest.

Leon County Commission Meeting (January 27)

The next Leon County Board of County Commissioners regular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 27 at 3 p.m. in the Commission Chambers of the County Courthouse. Significantly, earlier in the day (at 7:30 a.m. and also in the Commission Chambers), a special public forum will be held to allow local leaders to provide input to the members of the Leon County State Legislative Delegation via Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desloge’s Annual “Community Legislative Dialogue.” This event, which serves effectively as an inclusive community-focused legislative roundtable, is intended to share ideas regarding priority local topics prior to the beginning of the 2015 State Legislative Session and is open to the public. Additional information regarding all County agenda issues (such as those highlighted below) can be found in the full County agenda HERE.

The County Commission has two notable action items on the agenda that are of interest to the business community, including:

  • Acceptance of a status report regarding the communitywide support for a vibrant and expanding entrepreneurial eco-system. Building from extensive work, in partnership with the Chamber, EDC, DOMI, FSU, FAMU, Local and State governments, and many other regional partners during the past two years in particular, this item highlights our community assets, resources and programs that support the co-creation of our entrepreneurial network. To view item, click HERE.
  • Public Hearing to Consider and Approve Update to the Tourist Development Plan. This item will result in codifying an update to the existing Tourism Plan corresponding to the reallocation of dollars from the current Tourist Development Tax. Not a tax increase, the result of this proposal will be significant new realignment of annual funding allocations totaling approximately $1.125M to support culture and arts programs and grants in our community (up from the current allocation level of just over $500,000 per year). To view item, click HERE.

Tallahassee City Commission Meeting (January 28) 

The next City of Tallahassee Commission regular meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 10 at 4 p.m. in the Commission Chambers of City Hall.  A series of issues presented on the agenda appear of particular interest to the business community.  Additional information regarding all City agenda items (such as those highlighted below) can be found in the full City agenda by clicking HERE.

The City Commission has a few notable action items of interest to the business community, including:

  • Agenda Item 9.06 provides for the approval and platting of 35 new residential lots (on just over 10 acres) within Southwood to meet the City’s high demand for available building sites for single family residences in a strengthening housing market and stable economy.
  • Agenda Item 9.07 provides an update to the existing supplier agreement with Main Street Natural Gas, Inc. by which the City acquires its natural gas to provide City Utility customers. As covered in the analysis, this agreement would result in over $9M in savings to the City during the remainder of the term of the existing agreement.
  • Agenda Item 13.01 provides an update report from the City staff regarding enhanced enforcement mechanisms (within current legal guidelines) to combat illegal sign uses. Building upon months of inclusive task force meetings led by the City Manager’s Business Advocate Office and to which a number of community and business representatives (including the Chamber) were invited to participate upon, this staff report provides the City Commission an update of those tools being utilized by City Code Enforcement and related staff to combat illegal “snipe” signs that have recently proliferated in some areas, are not legally compliant to the city code of ordinances, and create a blight condition when left unregulated. The Chamber commends our members that adhere to all sign ordinance guidelines and appreciate the reasonable efforts to mitigate improper sign usage such as those action items which this agenda report details.
  • Agenda Item 13.03 provides an update to the City Commission regarding the highly reported “Ban the Box” initiative that would take the current mandate to self-report prior felonies or misdemeanors by applicants for City employment off of the initial City employment application forms (note: these questions are usually inserted in a special “box” for self-reporting on the application). It is important to clarify to Chamber members that this initiative only impacts City employees and City government. The proposal does NOT affect vendors doing business with the City nor the business community. The City analysis reports that 96 Cities and Counties across the nation have implemented this policy action thus far (including Tampa and Jacksonville here in Florida) and it details the proposed benefits of the action as stated by proponents. The change does not reportedly prohibit that felony information from being shared and considered but would alter when (during the hiring process) such prior transgressions are to be shared and reviewed by both the City and employee candidates. The Chamber has not taken a position on this issue and shall continue to monitor and inform you as the City pursues policy development on this subject area that impacts their own organization (and not the business community directly).
  • Agenda Item 13.04 provides a three year lease extension with General Dynamics for their (City owned) Tallahassee office facility in the Commonwealth business park area. This action extends key City support toward the retention of a top targeted industry business and their employment base (of approximately 200 personnel) while also securing significant lease and ad valorem income revenues to the City.
  • A series of public hearings begin at 6 p.m. (see items 15.01 – 15.06) on issues ranging from land use master plan updates at FAMU to drive through lane approvals in the multi-modal (high density) district of the City to Goodbody Lane improvements in the Lafayette Street shopping area. Each of these public hearing items may be of interest to Chamber members for further review and consideration

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any further questions you may have about this content and/or the Chamber’s comprehensive set of activities to Monitor, Inform, Engage and Advocate on behalf of the Greater Tallahassee business community through the Chamber’s Business Advocacy Committee.

On behalf of your Business Advocacy Committee,

Benjamin H. Pingree, MPA
Vice President, Business Retention/Expansion & Public Policy

Seeking to monitor, inform, communicate and engage for the benefit of our members, businesses and economic good.