On March 15, 2016, the Town of Longboat Key has a Special Referendum scheduled to consider the undergrounding of utilities in neighborhoods and side streets. Many of the neighborhoods in the Town of Longboat Key have enjoyed undergrounded electrical utilities for many years. The Town has overhead electrical utilities relating to Gulf of Mexico Drive and in certain neighborhoods within the Town.
All registered voters of Longboat Key will have the opportunity to vote on the issue, either through absentee ballot (available from the Manatee or Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections offices), early voting (off-island only, no on-site early voting on Longboat Key); or on the Presidential Primary Election day of March 15, 2016. Manatee County voters will vote at Longboat Island Chapel, 6200 Gulf of Mexico Drive, and Sarasota County voters will vote at Town Hall, 501 Bay Isles Road. Poll hours are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 15, 2016.
The Referendum Ballot question is:
APPROVING REVENUE BONDS/NOTES
TO FINANCE REMAINING UNDERGROUNDING UTILITIES/STREET LIGHTING
Shall Town of Longboat Key be authorized to issue revenue bonds/notes, in one or more series, not exceeding $23,850,000, bearing interest not exceeding maximum legal rates, maturing not later than 30 years, to finance remaining undergrounding of electrical utilities in certain neighborhoods including street lighting installation, and communications/fiber optics utilities in certain neighborhoods, payable solely from special assessments imposed against real property throughout the Town and other non-ad valorem revenues if necessary?
__________ Yes - For Bonds/Notes
__________ No - Against Bonds/Notes
On November 3, 2015, a majority of the Town’s voters cast votes in favor of a bond referendum which authorized the Town to issue revenue bonds/notes not exceeding $25,250,000 to finance undergrounding electrical, communications, fiber optics, and other utilities and installation of street lighting relating to Gulf of Mexico Drive.
The Town Commission has scheduled a bond referendum to authorize the Town to issue revenue bonds/notes not exceeding $23,850,000 to finance remaining undergrounding of electrical utilities in certain neighborhoods including street lighting installation, and communications/fiber optics utilities in certain neighborhoods. The Town Commission determined that the voters of the Town should make the final decision determining whether to issue revenue bonds and/or notes to finance the costs to design, acquire, construct, relocate, and install the undergrounding utilities.
The undergrounding of overhead electrical utilities improves the reliability of utility services by substantially reducing the frequency of outages when compared with overhead networks, and the installation of new and upgraded utility lines, communications cables, and appurtenant facilities provides a higher level of reliability of utility services and reduces exposure to the elements that could cause potential damage and speed deterioration to facilities resulting in service interruptions.
In addition to safety and reliability benefits provided by undergrounding utilities, removing the overhead electrical utilities and utility poles creates an inviting, visually pleasing, and scenic gateway for ingress and egress to all parcels within the Town, eliminates the radical line trimming of trees which frequently results in an unsightly and unnatural appearance and improves the overall aesthetics for individual parcels within the Town and the community as a whole.
Florida Power & Light (FPL) plans to replace the existing overhead power poles with new, expensive, larger, and stronger power poles to fortify, or harden, them against tropical storm force winds, thereby significantly increasing the Town's cost to underground the subject utilities at a future date after such replacement has occurred. By undertaking the Project at this time, the Town can maximize the financial assistance available for the Project through a reduction of up to 25% of the otherwise required Contribution in Aid of Construction payable to FP&L, and take advantage of substantial cost efficiencies associated with constructing the Project in conjunction with the GMD Project.