Quality Cities | Second Quarter 2022

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▸ Preventing Cyberattacks p. 25 ▸ Your League Ambassadors p. 28


▸ Recycling Solutions p. 44


Cities’ Engagement Brings Success Together, municipal leaders made a difference this session See p. 32



Providing local governments with


Investing Together for Local Benefit Are your investments properly diversified in today’s current environment?


Protecting the Retirement of Those Serving the Public Could hidden fees be derailing your retirement plans?


Making Your Dollars Do More for Local Communities Debating a new construction project or refinancing an existing loan? Contact Jeremy Langley Account Executive jlangley@flcities.com 859.552.5224


BOARD OF DIRECTORS PRESIDENT Phillip E. Walker, Commissioner, Lakeland Quality Cities Magazine Volume 96 | Number 2 PUBLISHER Jeannie Garner EDITOR AND CREATIVE PROJECT MANAGER Joy Dickinson ASSISTANT EDITOR Kelli Gemmer WRITER/EDITOR Sheryl S. Jackson GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Sydney Fraser Bonnie Gaupp Jena Glantz CIRCULATION Eryn Russell Stay informed: Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Visit our website at flcities.com. Quality Cities (formerly Quality Cities ’90) (ISSN 0892-4171) (USPS Number: 201-780) serves as a medium of exchange of ideas and information on municipal affairs for the public officials of Florida. The views expressed and the data presented by contributors and advertisers are not to be construed as having the endorsement of the Florida League of Cities unless so specifically stated. No material from this publication may be reprinted without the express permission of the editor. The mailing address for the publishers of Quality Cities is P.O. Box 1757, Tallahassee, FL 32302-1757. The telephone number is 850.222.9684, and the email address is jdickinson@ flcities.com. Offices are located at 301 S. Bronough St., Suite 300, Tallahassee, FL 32301-1722. Quality Cities is published quarterly by the Florida League of Cities. Periodicals Postage Paid at Tallahassee, FL, No. 201780. Postmaster: Send address changes to Quality Cities, P.O. Box 1757, Tallahassee, FL 32302-1757. The yearly MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION rate for members is $10.00, other governmental agencies – $15.00 and nonmembers – $20.00 for four issues.

FIRST VICE PRESIDENT Jolien Caraballo, Vice Mayor, Port St. Lucie SECOND VICE PRESIDENT Greg Ross, Mayor, Cooper City DISTRICT DIRECTORS (1) William Schaetzle, Mayor Pro Tem, Niceville (1) J.B. Whitten, Mayor, Crestview (2) Jake Hill, Councilmember, Lake City (3) Robert F. Apgar, Mayor, DeLand (3) William Partington, Mayor, Ormond Beach (4) Carol McCormack, Mayor, Palm Shores (4) Dominick Montanaro, Vice Mayor, Satellite Beach (5) Louie Davis, Mayor, Waldo (5) Cal Rolfson, Councilmember, Mount Dora (6) Joseph McMullen, Commissioner, Oakland (6) Rosemary Wilsen, Mayor Pro Tem, Ocoee (7) Sam Fite, Vice Mayor, Bowling Green (7) Marlene Wagner, Vice Mayor, Lake Hamilton (8) Tyler Payne, Mayor, Treasure Island (8) Jamie Robinson, Commissioner, Largo (9) Susan Gibbs Thomas, Councilmember, Indiantown (10) Brian Williams, Commissioner, Palmetto (11) Fred Forbes, Councilman, Bonita Springs (12) Kimberly Glas-Castro, Vice Mayor, Lake Park (12) Lawrence Gordon, Vice Mayor, Haverhill (12) Jeff Hmara, Councilman, Royal Palm Beach (13) Traci L. Callari, Commissioner, Hollywood (13) Todd Drosky, Commissioner, Deerfield Beach (13) Bob Mayersohn, Commissioner, Parkland (13) Gary Resnick, Commissioner, Wilton Manors


(13) Iris Siple, Commissioner, Pembroke Pines (13) Susan Starkey, Councilwoman, Davie (13) Beverly Williams, Vice Mayor, Lauderdale Lakes (14) Juan Carlos “JC” Bermudez, Mayor, Doral (14) Joseph Corradino, Mayor, Pinecrest (14) Rodney Harris, Mayor, Miami Gardens (14) Crystal Wagar, Councilmember, Miami Shores 10 MOST POPULOUS CITIES Samuel Newby, Council President, Jacksonville Ken Russell, Commissioner, Miami Joseph Citro, Councilmember, Tampa Kenneth T. Welch, Mayor, St. Petersburg Robert Stuart, Commissioner, Orlando Estebon Bovo, Mayor, Hialeah John Dailey, Mayor, Tallahassee Heather Moraitis, Vice Mayor, Fort Lauderdale Stephanie Morgan, Councilwoman, Port St. Lucie John Gunter, Mayor, Cape Coral PAST PRESIDENTS Scott Black, Commissioner, Dade City Frank C. Ortis, Mayor, Pembroke Pines Joy Cooper, Mayor, Hallandale Beach Patricia Bates, Mayor, Altamonte Springs Matthew D. Surrency, Commissioner, Hawthorne Leo E. Longworth, Commissioner, Bartow Isaac Salver, Council Member, Bay Harbor Islands Antonio “Tony” Ortiz, Commissioner, Orlando FCCMA EX-OFFICIO MEMBER Micah Maxwell, Assistant City Manager, Clearwater Jeannie Garner, Executive Director/CEO Kraig Conn, General Counsel


Newly elected officials can learn more about municipal governance and the services cities provide in an FLC University online course designed specifically for them. The self-paced, seven-lesson virtual course is only $99 and can usually be completed in less than 10 hours. Participants will have a better understanding of their role in local government after completing the course. For more information about upcoming sessions, contact Christen Barton at 407.367.3443 or cbarton@flcities.com. SECOND QUARTER 2022 | QUALITY CITIES 3




COVER FEATURE 32 Cities’ Engagement Brings Success

Together, municipal leaders made a difference this session


CITY SPOTLIGHTS 12 Mount Dora Looks to Future

Growth strategies including retaining historic charm


Innovative Thinking Keeps Residents Connected


Business Watch


Enriching the Community Winter Park enhances City while honoring its history

Preparing for Infrastructure Act Funding Understand programs that fit city priorities

Temple Terrace events become recurring favorites


Communicating in Power Outages How to creatively provide services in times of crisis



Priority-based Budgeting Research reveals which governments can best benefit





Food Safety Tips Keeping guests and family safe in warm weather

Going Green The unexpected benefits of houseplants



From the President


QC Today


Did you know

League and member news

OJ’s Origins and How Citrus is Celebrated

FEATURES 22 Women at the Top

Female City Managers share rough spots and rewards

25 28 31 35 36 40 44

Preventing Cyberattacks


Meeting Calendar




Employee Profile

Pursing Truth: Into the Gray

Tara McMillan

Local governments can access multiple sources of help

FLC Ambassadors – A Year in Review Two staff members reflect on their first year

Parental Leave Benefits Explained Recruitment, retention and employee morale boosted

Flood Coalition Offers Free Resources Best practices and tools help cities protect their communities

100-Year Celebration Continues FLC Annual Conference, Legislative Action Days and Hometown Health are marking centennial

Legislative Action Days Recap Walker leads officials as they share their united voices

Recycling Right Cities offer creative solutions to service challenges

ON THE COVER: Florida League of Cities President Phillip E. Walker speaks at Legislative Action Days. PHOTO COURTESY OF SYDNEY FRASER


The Florida Municipal Insurance Trust (FMIT) provides local governments with a complete Employee Benefits Package. The Employee Benefits Package includes: ∙ Medical ∙ Dental ∙ Vision ∙ Life ∙ Disability ∙ Voluntary Employee Benefits ∙ Section 125 Administration ∙ Flexible Spending Account/ Health Savings Account/Health Reimbursement Arrangement Administration

∙ A Customized Wellness Solution ∙ COBRA Administration ∙ Full Online Eligibility and Enrollment System Contact Lindsey Larson Account Executive llarson@flcities.com 920.606.9716



A collective voice for a brighter future

I President Phillip E. Walker Commissioner City of Lakeland

Grants Assistance Program The Florida League of Cities (FLC) offers a grants assistance program for cities. Through a partnership with eCivis, this program provides free grant research, training opportunities, cost savings and assistance with application writing

n this historic 100th year for the Florida League of Cities (FLC), we’re already witnessing momentous impacts thanks to the work that you are doing across the state. This year’s Legislative Action Days saw record-breaking attendance with more than 250 municipal officials at the Capitol advocating for local decision-making. (Read about Legislative Action Days on p. 40.) Your efforts to protect local self-governance contributed to a successful 2022 Legislative Session. Meeting with legislators, discussing priority issues and testifying before committees to share real-world examples of local impacts made a difference in our legislative efforts. This year, four key bills gave cities back their local decision-making authority: smoking in public places, tree protection, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and cybersecurity. (For more information on the 2022 Legislative Session, see p. 32.) A robust cybersecurity program is critical as cyberattacks on local governments continue to grow. The recent legislative bill regarding cybersecurity is a significant step, but municipalities can also access multiple resources to mitigate cyberthreats and keep our communities safe and secure. (See p. 25 for cybersecurity resources.) As hurricane season draws nearer, disaster preparedness is at the forefront of our minds. In the League’s recently launched Cities Convene with Congress webinar series, members of Congress discuss disaster planning and infrastructure topics. These topics include the implementation of FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0, cybersecurity, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the future of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). (See p. 35 for free resources from the American Flood Coalition). This year offers opportunities to celebrate the past and all we have accomplished together in the League’s first 100 years. (For more on the centennial celebration, see p. 36 and p. 38.) As the FLC begins a new century, the future is even brighter. Through a collective voice, we can continue to shape history by advocating for the future of Florida’s cities. Blessings as we are stronger together!

and grant management to all League members. To learn more, visit flcities. com/grants or email flcgrants@ecivis.com. Phillip E. Walker



Have news to share? Send it to kgemmer@flcities.com.


Two Florida City Leaders Appointed to NLC Committees

Denise D. Grant

Yvette Colbourne

The National League of Cities (NLC) named City of Lauderhill Commissioner Denise D. Grant to the NLC’s Human Development (HD) Federal Advocacy Committee and City of Miramar Vice Mayor Yvette Colbourne to NLC’s Finance, Administration and Intergovernmental Relations (FAIR) Federal Advocacy Committee. Grant and Colbourne will each serve a one-year term and offer strategic direction and guidance for the committees’ federal advocacy agenda and policy priorities.

North Port flag-raising ceremony shows support for Ukraine.



Coral Gables leaders and staff accept innovation award.


North Port Flies Ukrainian Flag

Coral Gables Recognized as Innovator

The City of North Port leaders, staff and local Ukrainian Americans raised a Ukrainian flag at North Port City Hall as a sign of solidarity with the City’s 5,000 residents of Ukrainian descent. The flag-raising ceremony included the singing of the Ukrainian National Anthem and “God Bless America.” It also included remarks by City Manager Jerome Fletcher and Daria Tomashosky, President of the local Ukrainian American Club of Southwest Florida. The ceremony and remarks can be found at bit.ly/3pJzqhq.

The City of Coral Gables has received a Smart City Innovation Excellence Award from the Smart Cities Council. The award recognizes the City for technological advances that help make government more efficient, transparent, accountable and effective while focusing on the customer experience. When accepting the award, Mayor Vince Lago said, “Coral Gables is using technology to benefit our residents, visitors and businesses and plan for the future. Kudos to our team for working to make our city a leader in innovation and technology.”



City Fleet Departments Make Top 20 Nationally The Fleet Departments of the City of Tallahassee and the City of Lakeland were recognized as the seventh and 13th best fleets, respectively, in the nation by Government Fleet magazine. The rankings are based on “showing leadership with staff, with customers and with the community; staying efficient and competitive; overcoming challenges and having a vision and direction for the operation.” 8 QUALITY CITIES | SECOND QUARTER 2022



OJ’s Origins And How Citrus Is Celebrated? Oranges were introduced in Florida in the 1500s by Spanish explorers. Today, oranges contribute $6.8 billion a year to the state’s economy. Many Floridians are unaware that the growth Reproduction of citrus crate of the citrus industry has its label at the Polk County History Center in Bartow. roots in the U.S. military. During World War II, the military was scrambling to feed troops overseas. Vitamin C was needed to prevent scurvy among soldiers and sailors. The military needed an efficient way to ship citrus to the troops. The answer was canned orange juice. Growers planted an additional 100,000 acres of oranges in the 1940s. Those oranges needed to be processed, so 10,000 prisoners of war (POWs) built a plant in Lake Wales. The 65-acre Citrus World plant still produces orange juice. (For more information on the POWs, see “Did You Know … WWII Prisoners Were Held in Florida?” at bit.ly/3rp8ogs.) The citrus industry is celebrated throughout the state. The Florida Citrus Hall of Fame in Bartow recognizes industry leaders and preserves and shares the heritage of citrus. The Sarah D. and L. Kirk McKay, Jr. Archives Center on the Florida Southern College campus in Lakeland houses the Hall of Fame wall display along with the State of Florida Citrus Archives. The Hall of Fame helped establish driving tours that highlight the labels on wooden crates that were used for 60 years. There are signs and banners featuring antique citrus label reproductions at each stop. The labels are displayed in Auburndale , Bartow, Davenport, Fort Meade, Frostproof, Haines City, Lake Alfred, Lake Wales, Lakeland and Winter Haven in Polk County (bit.ly/34SXwyz), Palmetto in Manatee County (bit.ly/3LyGKpm) and Vero Beach in Indian River County (bit.ly/3uLGfCf). The Hall of Fame also worked with historical societies and families in the citrus industry to set up the Lake County Citrus Label Tour. Two-sided 4’ by 4’ signs feature antique citrus label reproductions. A QR code offers access to the history of the label. The labels are displayed in Clermont, Eustis, Groveland, Howey-in-the-Hills, Leesburg, Mascotte, Mount Dora, Tavares and Umatilla. (For more information, go to bit.ly/34I4MNR.) The focus on citrus continues. The University of Central Florida is studying new ways to deliver medicine, such as ones that mimic the fragrant oil released when an orange is squeezed. Oranges aren’t the only citrus star in Florida. Key limes earned celebrity status after being named the official pie for the state in 2006. A botanist in Key West created the pie. Sources: citrusindustry.net, Florida Citrus Hall of Fame, Florida Trend, onlyinyourstate.com and WJCT News


MEETING CALENDAR APRIL 29-30 Institute for Elected Municipal Officials II Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront Contact Angela Delune JUNE 1-4 Florida City and County Management Association Annual Conference Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld Contact Carol Russell JUNE 10-11 Institute for Elected Municipal Officials Sheraton Jacksonville Hotel Contact Angela Delune JUNE 19-22 Florida Association of City Clerks Summer Conference and Academy Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld Contact Rachel Embleton JUNE 25-29 Florida Government Finance Officers Association Annual Conference Rosen Shingle Creek, Orlando Contact Jill Walker JULY 25-28 Florida Local Government Information Systems Association Annual Conference Diplomat Beach Resort, Hollywood Contact Becky Brennan JULY 28-30 Florida Municipal Attorneys Association Annual Seminar Hyatt Regency Coconut Point, Bonita Springs Contact Becky Emerson AUGUST 10 Center for Municipal Research Symposium Diplomat Beach Resort, Hollywood Contact Wade Burkley AUGUST 11-13 Florida League of Cities Annual Conference Diplomat Beach Resort, Hollywood Contact Melanie Howe SEPTEMBER 16-17 Institute for Elected Municipal Officials II Embassy Suites Fort Myers Estero Contact Angela Delune OCTOBER 9-13 Florida Association of City Clerks Fall Academy Orlando Marriott Lake Mary Contact Rachel Embleton OCTOBER 14-15 Institute for Elected Municipal Officials Embassy Suites by Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore Contact Angela Delune


GO TO: events/calendar-of-events or call

850.222.9684 for more information. SECOND QUARTER 2022 | QUALITY CITIES 9





NLC Provides Playbook On Bridging the Digital Divide

Following the announcement of the winners of the 2022-23 Ocala Outdoor Sculpture Competition, the City of Ocala invited the public to a scavenger hunt to find and learn more about the sculptures installed Best of Show winner: throughout Tuscawilla Park. “The Three Musketeers.” Scavenger hunt brochures are available at various locations downtown, and completed brochures can be exchanged for free family admission to the Appleton Museum in the City.

The National League o f C i t i e s (NLC) has


Venice Residents Show Their Love for Historic Buildings PHOTO COURTESY OF CITY OF VENICE

Historic buildings in the City of Venice received their own Valentine’s Day wishes as residents and owners “heart bombed” the buildings to raise awareness of and support for the buildings that Venice residents “heart bomb” Triangle Inn. represent City history. The City ’s Division of Historical Resources, Venice MainStreet and Venice Heritage Inc. sponsored heart-making stations for the public. The City staff then placed the paper hearts with their messages of love and support on the buildings a few days before Valentine’s Day. Residents and visitors were encouraged to visit the buildings, find their messages and take selfies.

released a new resource that helps community leaders at all stages of their digital equity journeys assess local challenges and build a digital equity plan for the future. The tool tailors publicly available national-level data to fit a city’s boundaries so that city leaders can focus on implementing solutions and serving parts of their communities that are most in need. The report, “Digital Equity Playbook: How City Leaders Can Bridge the Digital Divide,” can be found at bit.ly/3LYDvaM. SERVICE

Pensacola Supports United Way Day of Caring Nearly 60 City of Pensacola employees and Mayor Grover Robinson IV joined volunteers throughout the community to

support United Way Day of Caring, an annual community service effort coordinated by United Way of West Florida. City employees worked on projects to support local nonprofit organizations. “It was great to have so many employees participate and give back to our community today,” Robinson said. “We painted, we mopped, we cleaned, and we made a difference in our community with the organizations we helped.”


Cities Recognized As Healthy Workplaces The A m e r i ca n H e a r t A s s o c i a t i o n has recognized seven cities for implementing quality workplace health programs and a culture of health best practices. ▸ Gold-level winners: City of Coconut Creek and City of Doral ▸ Silver-level winners: City of Clearwater, City of Largo and City of Naples ▸ Bronze-level winners: Town of Longboat Key and Village of Wellington. 10 QUALITY CITIES | SECOND QUARTER 2022



Ocala Combines Scavenger Hunt And Art as Family Entertainment

Mayor Grover Robinson IV joins Parks and Recreation employees at United Ministries of Pensacola.




Tampa Shelter Provides Housing, Support Services at New Site


Four Municipal Water Systems Recognized For Excellence Each year the

Florida Department of Environmental Protection

(DEP) recognizes Florida water and wastewater facilities for operation, maintenance, innovative treatment, waste reduction and pollution prevention, recycling or other special achievements. Recipients of DEP’s 2021 awards include: ▸ The City of Dade City and the City of Port St. Lucie for their wastewater treatment facilities ▸ The Town of Hillsboro Beach and the City of Zephyrhills for their drinking water facilities.


Vero Beach Landscape Recognized as “Florida-Friendly” The City of Vero Beach received the 2021 Municipal Landscape Award from the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program, an extension of the University of Florida. The award recognized Vero Beach’s City Hall landscape project as environmentally sound. Past Mayor and Councilwoman Laura Moss initiated the project. Her goal to transform the grounds of City Hall became a reality with the efforts of City staff and a local landscape architect.

Vero Beach City Hall’s award-winning landscape.

Vero Beach elected officials and staff accept landscaping award.

Obituary Aventura City Commissioner Jonathan Evans

Aventura City Commissioner Jonathan Evans died February 14 at age 72. Born in Birmingham, England, Evans came to the United States to work on a pioneering research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He and his wife split their time between Block Island, RI, and Aventura. Evans served his Florida community as Chairman of the Aventura Community Services Board and helped with political campaigns. He had been an educator in Massachusetts and was passionate about education. After retiring, he served as Chair for the Scholarship Committee and as the Co-chair of the Vice Provost’s Council at Florida International University. “Our city mourns the loss of a wonderful human being, public servant and friend,” Mayor Enid Weisman said. “Jonathan Evans brought intellect, wit and care to his role as a Commissioner and brightened all our lives. We will all miss him dearly.” SECOND QUARTER 2022 | QUALITY CITIES 11



Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and Chief of Staff John Bennett with one of the HOPE Cottages.

Homeless residents benefit from the permanent shelter site opened in December 2021 by the City of Tampa. Initially housed in individual tents, residents of the site that is run by the City and Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Petersburg begin moving into up to 200 “Hope Cottages” in summer 2022. The small structures provide occupants with electricity, heat and air conditioning in their individual spaces. Daily meals, basic medical and dental care and counseling are also provided to residents. To see a previous Quality Cities story about how cities are addressing homelessness, go to bit.ly/3LdjYm7.




Mount Dora’s historic downtown.


Mount Dora Looks to Future Growth strategies including retaining historic charm by Vershurn Ford City of Mount Dora


esidents of the City of Mount Dora love their history and their local landmarks. The City was settled in the 1880s and was incorporated in 1910. The landmarks include the lighthouse on Lake Dora, which is the only registered inland freshwater lighthouse in Florida. They also include the Lakeside Inn, which was established in 1883 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Even with a rich past and a traditional, historic downtown, Mount Dora leaders and residents are always looking toward the future. They are creating services, infrastructure and programs that position the City for sustainable growth. Current and planned investments put the City in a unique position to promote stable developed areas along with newer residential and commercial development that appeal to residents, commuters and visitors. The adoption of the Wolf Branch Innovation District (WBID) plan by the City and Lake County creates an employment center


MOUNT DORA Lake County Pop. 16,341

that is designed to build a more diverse economic base. The plan established a framework to support future investment by the private sector in the District. The City’s development of transportation infrastructure to complement the WBID includes: ▸ Advancement of several roadway and trail projects within and surrounding the WBID area. ▸ Vista Ridge Drive and Innovation Boulevard proposed as the new City collector roads. ▸ The extension of the Wekiva Trail to connect riders from the regional trail system and the WBID to the historic downtown area. With Mount Dora’s proximity to Orange and Seminole counties, the WBID will be attractive to many industries. Those in-

dustries include medical, research and development, medical and treatment institutes, technology and others that want to relocate to the area or expand.



Lake Dora.


Wall mural downtown.

Mount Dora’s five-year strategic plan identifies several ambitious projects to ensure the City and its residents enjoy and benefit from the projected growth in the area. These plans include completion of the Wekiva Trail extension by 2026, announcement of a catalyst company to jumpstart WBID by 2023, commercial and multifamily development in the WBID, completion of new fires stations and public works facilities and renovation of Cauley Lott and Lincoln Park recreation areas. Even with the ambitious plans, City leaders are committed to serving current residents and businesses and to providing the festivals, fairs and events that make Mount Dora truly “Someplace Special” to live, work and visit. Vershurn Ford is the Public Information Officer for the City of Mount Dora. QC

Reflection of Mount Dora Lighthouse.



The City offers a wide variety of options that include existing and future construction of single-family and multifamily housing as well as historic single-family homes. The small-town atmosphere and quality-of-life elements such as recreation programs, festivals, other events, nature trails, parks, restaurants, bars and shopping options appeal to all ages. With strategic advertising campaigns through various media (video, commercials, livestream, print ad and social media), the City promotes the area as a Central Florida must-see destination to visit, attend a festival, live and do business. The City has the capacity to grow and expand in a responsible manner. A solar farm, which is under construction, will support the areas served by the Mount Dora electric utility. It will reduce fossil fuel energy demand by up to 20% and add 4 megawatts to the electric service area. The estimated completion of this project is early summer 2022. Also, the City is in year three of a five-year plan to convert cobra street lighting to LED-style fixtures. Benefits include a longer life cycle than that of the LED fixtures, plus lower maintenance costs. Mount Dora is also enhancing its technology infrastructure by expanding its broadband capabilities. The City is building a fiber optic network ring that will allow full communication, even if the physical cables are severed. Fiber provides the broadband infrastructure for: ▸ Improvements to the City’s electric, water and wastewater utilities. Those improvements include hardware and software to provide full supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and automatic meter reading (AMR). ▸ The continued addition of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras to enhance the existing network of 168 cameras throughout the City. This addition will strengthen public safety for residents and visitors. ▸ Wi-Fi access points throughout the City allowing broadband connectivity to citizens, businesses, employees and tourists. ▸ An upgrade to the City’s network to a 40 GB backbone, which allows massive amounts of data to flow throughout the network very quickly. ▸ Implementation of a geographic information system (GIS) that allows the City to perform analytics that support decision-making.





One of the prize-winning entries in the Red, White and Blue Yard Decorating Contest, held in lieu of the Independence Day parade.


Innovative Thinking Keeps Residents Connected

TEMPLE TERRACE Hillsborough County Pop. 26,690

Temple Terrace events become recurring favorites by Laurie Hayes City of Temple Terrace


hat makes the City of Temple Terrace special?” Residents answer the question by describing the City’s small-town feel and sense of community. And nothing embodies those traits more than the variety of events hosted by the City throughout the year. Many events, such as the Independence Day parade and fireworks display, have been Temple Terrace traditions for decades. When the pandemic forced the cancellation of these time-honored gatherings, it felt as though the City lost part of its identity. Working with other City departments and local civic organizations, the City’s Marketing and Communications Office identified innovative ways to bring people together while encouraging everyone to stay apart. Although some of these efforts were simply stopgap measures to see the City through the pandemic, others were so well-received that they have been added to the annual calendar. BIKE MONTH

Bike with the Mayor has been a March tradition in Temple Terrace for many years. Residents meet and greet elected officials and City staff as well as folks from Bike/Walk Tampa Bay and 14 QUALITY CITIES | SECOND QUARTER 2022

join them on a leisurely ride along the river. They peddle past historic homes and Florida College. While held outdoors, the group ride nevertheless raised concerns about social distancing in 2021 due to the pandemic. Unwilling to completely cancel the observance, the Marketing and Communications Office mapped out a route that encompassed the seven historical markers in the City and worked with Bike/ Walk Tampa Bay to allow bikers to log their rides in exchange for prizes. Temple the Orange, the City’s mascot, helped promote the activity. The mascot was photographed beside each marker, and photos were posted on social media with a brief history lesson. The photos even included props such as a homemade batch of brownies made with an original recipe by Bertha Palmer, who played a pivotal role in the establishment of the City. Palmer is also credited with commissioning the first-ever brownies for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (Chicago’s World Fair). Bicyclists who completed the ride and submitted photos of themselves at each historical marker were entered into a drawing for gift certificates to local businesses presented by Temple the Orange. More than 150 people participated, and many more learned a lesson or two about city history.


For the past several years, the City had observed Florida League of Cities’ (FLC’s) City Government Week in October by inviting students from Florida College to shadow elected officials and City directors and then participate in a mock City Council meeting debating real issues. Because precautions surrounding COVID-19 took that option off the table, the City had to get creative. Temple the Orange tested the City’s Facebook followers’ knowledge of City attractions by playing “Where’s Temple?” With help from the City’s Marketing Assistant, Temple was photographed at popular places in the City, and one photo from his jaunts was posted each day. After liking the Facebook page, participants could submit guesses as to his location in the comments. One winner from the correct guesses was chosen at random each day to receive a $50 gift card to a Temple Terrace restaurant. Nearly 270 guesses were submitted throughout the week. In addition to highlighting some of the City’s parks and other venues, the campaign supported local restaurants. One resident commented on the Facebook page, “Seeing that Orange is giving me life!” The effort also garnered many new Facebook fans for the City – a win for everyone! The City is committed to continuing the successful partnership with Florida College for Florida City Government Week, and the mascot will make an appearance for another round of “Where’s Temple?” in the fall.


Yard signs were delivered to veterans’ homes before Veterans Day in 2020 and 2021.

Temple the Orange holds a platter of brownies made with the original recipe from Bertha Palmer, who is honored on the historical marker.

The Temple Terrace Independence Day festivities – a parade through neighborhood streets in the morning, followed by a community gathering and fireworks in the evening – have been happening in the City annually since the mid-1970s. COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the July Fourth celebration in 2020. Not willing to let the holiday go unchecked, the Temple Terrace Arts Council and the City partnered to host a Red, White and Blue Yard Decorating Contest in 2021. Using social media, the City website, word of mouth and local media, residents and businesses were encouraged to register and then festoon their yards or establishments in the most patriotic manner possible in one of two categories: “Seize the Day” for daytime viewing and judging or “Light Up the Night” for the nighttime. The nearly 40 entries were judged by members of the Arts Council, with prizes awarded. The addresses of all the participants were made public so people could drive around and view them – a parade in reverse. VETERANS DAY

The City employed the same approach to Veterans Day in 2020 as for July Fourth. While veterans are typically honored in a ceremony during the City’s Arts and Crafts Festival – another 40+ year tradition – that opportunity was quashed due to COVID-19. Instead, the names of local veterans were collected, and yard signs thanking the veterans for their service were designed. The week of Veterans Day, with the help of the Code Compliance, Public Works and Police departments, more than 100



signs were placed in the yards of those who had served. The recognition was so well-received by the community that it is now an annual occurrence, with 100 more signs delivered in 2021. The pandemic has obviously presented challenges for community engagement. It also provided an incentive to think outside the box to keep people engaged. Everyone on the City staff was very excited to be able to find new ways to promote the City – especially ones that allowed everyone to have some fun in the process! Laurie Hayes is the Marketing and Communications Officer for the City of Temple Terrace. QC SECOND QUARTER 2022 | QUALITY CITIES 15




Enriching the Community Winter Park enhances City while honoring its history

WINTER PARK Orange County Pop. 29,795


ounders Loring Chase and Oliver Chapman knew their purchase of 600 acres for $13,000 in 1881 was a wise investment. Now, just over 140 years later, the City of Winter Park continues to offer ways for residents and guests to experience the community’s vast history, heritage and unique assets. The City, with its old-world charm and New England feel, has become known for its neighborhoods, historic homes, shopping, dining and cultural opportunities. When the pandemic created unprecedented economic challenges, the City partnered with the business community by offering financial support and developing creative solutions to continue service in a socially distant manner. Now in 2022, the resiliency of the City’s businesses is demonstrated in a high occupancy rate for office and retail citywide. After the recent holiday season, the City received reports of sales increasing by up to 70% over last year. In addition, Winter Park’s lakes, vast parks system, extensive tree canopy and annual events, such as its spring and autumn art festivals, make the City’s 10 square miles a popular destination for residents and visitors. The City continues to seek opportunities to further enrich the lives of its residents, businesses and guests. The City’s main street, Park Avenue, is the epicenter of the business community, offering more than 140 boutiques, museums/galleries and


Winter Park Library and Events Center.


by Clarissa Howard City of Winter Park

sidewalk cafes. Anchored on the southern end of Park Avenue is

Rollins College, the No. 1 regional university in the South ranked

by U.S. News & World Report for the 2021-22 school year. At the northern end, Park Avenue is surrounded by the City’s golf course, fondly referred to as the WP9. The WP9 was the first golf course in Florida to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been rated one of the Top 10 nine-hole golf courses in the country. Just a few blocks away from Park Avenue is the City’s newest 21st-century facility, the Winter Park Library and Events Center, which opened in December 2021. This project was designed by internationally acclaimed architect Sir David Adjaye, who also designed the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Library and Events Center features a two-story library as well as a welcoming covered passageway at the entrance of both facilities. The events center has a spacious grand ballroom and rooftop terrace with views of Martin Luther King, Jr. Park and downtown Orlando’s skyline. The Library and Events Center is also the new home to a majority of the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival’s “Best of Show” collection and three sculptures from the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens. Winter Park is known for its diverse and

CITY SPOTLIGHT comprehensive arts and culture offerings including museums, galleries, festivals, performing arts, visual arts and education. In addition, an inclusive Arts and Culture Alliance was launched in 2017 to represent all nonprofit arts and culture organizations within the City. For those who enjoy the outdoors, the City values its greenspace and understands the importance of parkland to the environment and personal health. This year, the City approved the contract to purchase the Winter Pines Golf Course. This acquisition allows the City to preserve 93 acres as active greenspace and adds an 18-hole golf course to the City’s recreational portfolio. The City is also transforming two places into new green spaces for respite and relaxation. Just a few streets south of Park Avenue, along the Orange Avenue commercial corridor, the City cleared 3.54 acres of land to create a park surrounded by seven newly planted large live oak trees. With the City’s 2017 purchase of 43.34 acres of Howell Branch Preserve, there also is a place for birdwatchers, walkers, paddleboarders, canoers and kayakers. This year, the City began removing an invasive species to add passive trails and boardwalks. They will be lined with educational signs for those interested in learning about the natural surroundings. Whether it’s adding parkland, more trees or building state-ofthe-art community facilities, Winter Park works hard to improve the services it provides year-round.


Installation of one of seven oak trees.

WP9 Golf Course.

Clarissa Howard is Director of Communications for the City of Winter Park. QC Park Avenue, the City’s main street.

Howell Branch Preserve.







Pursuing Truth: Into the Gray

Breaking away from false dichotomies to make better choices by Scott Paine Florida League of Cities


t’s called a false dichotomy. It’s the inaccurate narrowing of possible options to two and only two. Either we raise the millage rate, or the city will fall into insolvency. Either we prohibit cities from regulating local businesses, or cities will regulate local businesses out of existence. Either that person is telling the truth, or that person is a liar. False dichotomies are false because they exclude real possibilities, either due to a lack of clarity of thought or as a purposeful effort to manipulate others. Umm … that’s a false dichotomy, too. Given the complexity of this world, the enormous range of choices that confront us, the limits of time and our cognitive capacity, we simplify many choices into false dichotomies. Given the limits of our self-awareness, we also often create false dichotomies that may have a manipulative effect, not by conscious design, but because of some unconscious desire to put our thumb on the scales of decision, or perhaps because the false dichotomy creates the illusion of clarity that relieves cognitive and emotional stress. There’s also a bit of developmental psychology at work here, at least according to Lawrence Kohlberg, a psychologist and educator. His theory of moral development asserts that how we assess our choices in the world changes with time and maturation. The earliest stages of development focus narrowly on consequences. Young children learn that this behavior is rewarded, that one punished. As they learn, they adapt their behavior to secure more rewards. Most of us grow out of that framework and mature to the point that we can look beyond simple reward and punishment. At this level of moral development, which Kohlberg calls “conventional,” we move beyond immediate gratifications to valuing the relationships we have with those close to us. We also come to appreciate the benefits of maintaining predictable relationships with neighbors and even strangers, fostering our support for and compliance with the rules of our society. In other words, we embrace the “conventions” of the society in which we live. This point is where the journey ends for many. We follow the rules because following the rules fosters stability and predictability. Rules, because they are clear (do this, don’t do that), also make choosing easier. There’s no ambiguity where there’s a rule and an appreciation of the importance of compliance. 18 QUALITY CITIES | SECOND QUARTER 2022

Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development Level 1 – Preconventional Stage 1. Punishment/obedience orientation Stage 2. Instrumental purpose orientation Level 2 – Conventional Stage 3. Good boy/nice girl orientation Stage 4. Law and order orientation Level 3 – Postconventional Stage 5. Social contract orientation Stage 6. Universal ethical principle orientation Source: Brittanica, bit.ly/3BLWIrJ

But Kohlberg argues that there is still more moral development work to do. We are prompted to do this work when we realize that the rules aren’t always just. In other instances, it’s unclear what rule should apply or whether any rule applies. At the “post-conventional” level of moral development, we acquire the ability (and the courage) to question the black and white of rules that fail to address higher order values. Things become grayer, not because there’s no such thing as right or wrong, but because the realities of lived experience sometimes fit poorly into the predefined categories of our rules, whether rules are expressed in an ordinance or a societal norm. Such post-conventional thinking can be hard work. It’s so much easier when the choice is between right and wrong. Acknowledging degrees of “rightness” and “wrongness,” recognizing that an option may be right by one valid standard yet wrong by another, struggling to know which standards apply and how they should be weighed against each other … this is what is required of us by higher-order decision-making. And it begins by remembering that there are always other possibilities, by rejecting false dichotomies, however comforting they may be, however much they might simplify our decisions.

COMMENTARY “Imagine you come upon a house painted brown. What color would you say the house was?” “Why brown, of course.” “But what if I came upon it from the other side, and found it to be white?” “That would be absurd. Who would paint a house two colors?” He ignored my question. “You say it’s brown, and I say it’s white. Who’s right?” “We’re both right.” “No,” he said. “We’re both wrong. The house isn’t brown or white. It’s both. You and I only see one side. But that doesn’t mean the other side doesn’t exist. To not see the whole is to not see the truth.” – Megan Chance, “The Spiritualist”

When I taught ethics at the university, I found that one of the greatest challenges I faced was breaking out of the false dichotomies that always seemed to arise whenever a student considered an ethical dilemma. Do I tell, or do I remain silent? Do I sign the contract or not? Do I do what the client asks, though I think it is unethical, or do I refuse? With some creativity and deeper reflection, each dichotomous choice yielded a much wider range of possible options. At a societal level, one of the gravest of false dichotomies we face is the one that asserts that we can only help this group at the expense of that group or that group at the expense of this one. This framing of policy choices makes politics a zero-sum game. Somebody must lose for somebody to win. All politics is merely a power struggle to see who gets what benefits and pays what price. If that’s politics, who in their right mind would choose to lose? If all government does is yield benefits for the powerful at the expense of the weak, if all that the rule of law provides is a thin and false veneer of “justice” over the abuse of many for the good of the few, then politics is only about power. But if there is something like the “public” that is more than a majority of the members of the public, more than a powerful minority of them


too, then there are choices available to us that may cost some of us directly and benefit others directly, while they also benefit all of us in that we are part of the greater whole. This statement is, in fact, an essential underlying premise of good government. Government, when it governs well, must in some ways be redistributive. It must take from those who can afford to give and, in some ways at least, give to those who cannot. The return, in the overt sense, isn’t dollar-for-dollar. But the societal benefit is far greater than that. A public-safety example may help make this clear. If the fire department only fought fires that occurred on the property of those who paid a certain amount of tax, the entire community, including those who paid a lot of taxes, would be at risk. It is much easier and more effective to contain the blaze, even if on a property whose owner pays little or no tax, than to wait for it to threaten a tax-paying home. If only for this reason (though I hope humanitarian considerations also motivate us), it makes sense for those of us with the financial capacity to pay more so that even those with no capacity to pay are protected. The public, of which we are all a part, benefits from being able to prevent the town from burning down. One can say the same thing about any number of services. Can you imagine driving or biking in a city where the presence and quality of pavement were determined by the amount of local tax paid by each property owner? Beyond the tangible of sometimes indirect benefits of such policies for those who pay more, there’s a larger good we can achieve. There is real value in seeing the more complete picture, in choosing to do good, in securing justice even at the expense of what we learn is an unjust advantage. Achieving this clarity and working toward these outcomes doesn’t arise from discovering some source of ultimate truth. Rather, we learn to reject the false dichotomy of simple truth and falsehood. We assemble a more complete picture by accepting that each perspective can contain some truth even as it contains errors. And we find our way through the gray. Only by truly hearing the challenging account, seeing the world from an uncomfortable perspective, can we begin to see the full range of options and their implications. Our choices will involve more uncertainty and less clarity. They will require more thought and careful explanation. But for all that, they will be better choices. We need to reject the false dichotomies of public policy. We need a politics of questing into the gray and political leadership that refuses to turn politics into nothing more than a power struggle between rival factions. All of us have a piece of the truth, even as we struggle with our false perceptions. All of us benefit when we make choices guided by a full assortment of those pieces. We may see only dimly, but what we see will be far more real, far better and far more worthy of our best efforts than the falsehoods that divide us. Scott C. Paine, Ph.D., is Director of Leadership Development and Education for FLC University. He previously worked at the University of Tampa as Associate Professor of Communication and Government and served for eight years on Tampa’s City Council. He can be contacted at spaine@flcities.com. QC SECOND QUARTER 2022 | QUALITY CITIES 19

Access to Employment Law Attorneys at NO COST The Florida Municipal Insurance Trust’s exclusive Employment Law Advisor program offers access to a Florida-based attorney with significant public-sector employment law experience. And, the best part is there is no cost to members of the FMIT with liability coverage for employment practices. We can help with a wide range of employment-related matters, including: Hiring Discipline Promotion/Demotion Transfer Reassignment Layoff Termination ADA Compliance Complaints of Discrimination, Harassment, Unfair Treatment and Retaliation


Help is only a phone call away. FMIT members can speak with an attorney Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., by calling 888.368.FMIT (3648).



Tara McMillan:

Helpful and Creative


ara McMillan , who recently celebrated 10 years at the Florida League of Cities (FLC), is known around the office for her love of cats, dogs and Florida State University (FSU) football, along with her enthusiasm for her work. “She is dedicated to everything around her whether it be her work and education, her family and friends, her animals or FSU football,” said Investigator/Analyst Riley Pool. Born and raised in Tallahassee, Tara graduated from FSU with her bachelor’s degree in psychology and is working on becoming a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). Tara works in the League’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) as SIU Coordinator, where she provides all support to the unit on fraud-related activities. “I always say, ‘I wear a lot of hats,’ as I do a little bit of everything for SIU,” said Tara. A few of these hats include triaging workers’ compensation and liability claims for the “red flags” of fraud, working with the League’s adjusting staff and vendor partners to coordinate surveillance and investigating suspected fraud claims. Tara’s supervisor, SIU Manager Sean Kucala, said Tara’s meticulous review of SIU invoices and savvy negotiation of surveillance rates make her an excellent steward of League resources. “Whether she’s triaging potential SIU referrals, assigning surveillance or investigating a case of suspected fraud, Tara puts her heart and soul into getting the job done right,” Sean said. Her co-workers describe her as helpful, dependable and creative. “Tara is always offering to take on more tasks and help on any existing work,” said Riley. “She is continually trying to think of new ways to improve processes and think outside the box.” Lisa Dove, who recently retired as Legal Assistant and was Tara’s “cubicle mate” for seven years, said Tara is easygoing and a good listener. Riley echoed this sentiment and added that you can talk to Tara about anything, whether professional, personal, current events, sports or her two dogs, Nala and Presley, and a cat named Milo. In addition to her “fur babies,” Tara is a proud aunt to a niece and two nephews. She enjoys arts and theater, socializing with friends, reading and watching FSU football in her spare time. “I am also a huge music fan, so I enjoy going to concerts,” said Tara. “That’s my ‘happy’ place.” Her happiest concert memory was also her first: an Aerosmith concert that Tara’s mom took her to as a preteen. “To this day, it’s one of my favorite shows, and I’ve been to a lot!” Tara’s most memorable experience while working at the League has been when the SIU team dressed as contestants on “The Price is Right” and won first place in the group costume contest. Her co-workers appreciate the fun she brings to the office. Sean said, “Even in the most stressful situations, Tara’s wicked, uncanny and dry sense of humor brings welcomed lightness to the moment.” QC


Sarah Campbell, Town Manager, Town of Orange Park

Yocelyn (Yocie) Galiano, Village Manager, Village of Pinecrest


Women at the Top

Female City Managers share rough spots and rewards by Joy Dickinson Florida League of Cities Lori LaVerriere, City Manager, City of Boynton Beach Christine M. Thrower-Skinner, Village Manager, Village of Golf

Sandra R. Wilson, City Manager, City of Ocala




nternational Women’s Day was celebrated on March 8. In recognition of women’s important and growing role in local government, Quality Cities interviewed five female City Managers who share an insider’s look at their roles. They discuss what they’ve learned from the women who mentored them and the lessons they’re passing on to others. The City Managers shared many common concerns and were upfront about the difficulties of the job. Many expressed the need for work-life balance. They also spoke enthusiastically about their satisfaction in working with residents and seeing an idea turn into a completed project. Some spoke about the fulfillment that comes from working for a greater purpose. One City Manager quoted Steve Jobs, Co-Founder of Apple, as saying, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”


Sarah Campbell, Town Manager for the Town of Orange Park, loves that her job allows her to see long-term proj-

ects come to fruition. Campbell enjoys the satisfaction that comes with the completion of projects in a five-year capital plan, such as a new playground, road reconstruction or a waterfront park acquisition. “Redevelopment also fits into that category,” she said. “It takes a long time to eliminate blighted structures and replace them with thriving businesses that are good for the community.” Campbell acknowledges that the job also has its difficulties, especially in the current national climate in which people distrust government. “It is hard to combat the negativity, especially when the data does not support the distrust.” Campbell said she has learned to remove her emotional responses to situations as they happen. “Keeping a calm demeanor, listening first, responding slowly and with a professional answer is a learned habit,” she said. If you respond with anger, frustration or hurt, the focus turns to the person instead of the issue, Campbell said. “My goal is to respond with grace. And vent later.” Physical and emotional health must be a priority in order to stay in this profession long-term, she said. Also, Campbell now sets boundaries for responses after normal business hours. She’s found a creative way to address meetings with residents when they are particularly challenging. “I use my digital notepad to write myself positive messages like ‘breathe,’ ‘peace’ or ‘this too shall pass.’ Sometimes I fill a whole page!” SANDRA R. WILSON, CITY OF OCALA

Sandra R. Wilson, City Manager of the City of Ocala, also has faced significant challenges in her job, especially addressing difficult social issues such as homelessness. “Everyone wants the problem solved yesterday, but the complexities surrounding the issue have to be considered and solutions developed, which can take a significant amount of time.” How does she cope with it? “I have to make time to get away and focus on other important aspects of my life, such as my family and my spiritual and mental health,” Wilson said. “It’s vital, and it allows me to refresh and refocus on the work of the leadership of the organization that I serve.”

Her philosophy is if you take care of your people, your people will take care of you. Wilson focuses on hiring great talent, empowering them and leading by example and integrity. “Take time to get to know your employees and what’s important to them as you share the organization’s mission, vision and values,” Wilson said. “Let them know how they fit into that vision and how everyone has their part to play in creating the outcomes that our constituents desire and expect.” She sees her job as the culmination of her 30 years of public service. “I aspired to obtain this position to be able to make a positive impact on the community.” YOCELYN GALIANO, VILLAGE OF PINECREST

Yocelyn (Yocie) Galiano, Village Manager of the Village of Pinecrest, also finds great reward in making a lasting

impact on her community and its residents. “I am passionate about public service, and nothing fulfills me more as an individual than to be able to help others and make a difference for the community.” One area that has been particularly meaningful to Galiano is to be a mentor to students interested in a career in local government as well as new employees. “It is important for aspiring public servants to feel they are not alone. And, it is a way for more experienced managers to give back to the profession and pay it forward.” The most important lesson that she shares is the significance of having ethics and working hard. Galiano urges the people she mentors to volunteer for assignments beyond their current positions in order to grow their knowledge and skills. “Constantly challenging oneself to learn new things is necessary to hone skills.” Perhaps most importantly, “you have to be passionate about and love public service,” Galiano said. To avoid burnout and deal with the stress of the job, she has learned to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Galiano’s motherhood journey started at age 47. She enjoys exploring South Florida with her children, now 5 and 6, with time at the beach or pool, on a boat or visiting nature attractions. “Having the opportunity to de-stress and enjoy the good things in life are critical to one’s overall mental and emotional health,” Galiano said. “Without that balance, I believe one is less effective as a good manager.”






Christine M. Thrower-Skinner, Village Manager of the Village of Golf, has learned during the pandemic that

putting family first is key to handling job stress. “We have all learned that no job is worth sacrificing family time, so I make sure we carve that out,” Thrower-Skinner said. “My husband and I are empty-nesters, but the whole clan gets together for Sunday dinner at our house every week.” In her small village, she wears multiple hats in human resources, finance, planning and other areas. “I refer to what I do as ‘concierge government’ because I can really address specific requests to all 300 of our residents.” She has learned to be flexible and go with the flow. “Falling on your sword doesn’t help you or your community.” A diverse work background gave Thrower-Skinner multiple skills that helped prepare her for her current role. “In my 37-year career in Florida, I’ve been a reporter, nonprofit CEO and filled many government positions for five cities before becoming Manager here in Golf,” she said. Thrower-Skinner expected to stay in Golf for two years but now believes she is exactly where she’s supposed to be. “Big cities have big problems to tackle,” she said. “I love what I’m doing and am grateful for the opportunity to serve this community.”



Lori LaVerriere, City Manager of the City of Boynton Beach, also enjoys her current role. “We need to have fun at

work,” LaVerriere said. “We spend more time there than at home. If we aren’t laughing and enjoying our colleagues and the work we do, then we simply can’t be the best we can be.” She encourages her employees to maintain balance and put family first. When work becomes difficult, colleagues and friends will hold you up, LaVerriere said. “I’ve lived through that, and without the support of my family and my colleagues, it would have been a much more difficult experience.” Also, she encourages her employees to set aside time to learn. “Through reading – which is relaxing – training, etc., we should always strive to learn and become an even better public servant.” LaVerriere enjoys seeing the positive impact of her work on residents and the community. “Our work is never complete, and that’s fun, challenging and motivating.” Overall, her career in public service has been “extremely fulfilling and flat-out fun,” she said. “It fills my heart with joy. City management doesn’t come without its storms, but with faith, friends and family, you will get through it.” Joy Dickinson is the Editor and Creative Project Manager at the Florida League of Cities. QC


The American Rescue Plan Act provides cities with funding from the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund and offers eligibility for other funding. The Florida League of Cities’ goal is to keep members informed and prepared. VISIT OUR ONLINE RESOURCE CENTER FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION. flcities.com/rescueplan



Tips and information regarding the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act


Information about the funding for cities


News from the League and our partners


The League has launched a series of #FLCitiesStrong webinars to help guide members


The League will share information from the Department of Treasury and the National League of Cities via email and social media





Preventing Cyberattacks Local governments can access multiple sources of help by Mike Taylor Florida League of Cities


lmost daily, we hear about the aftereffects of cyberattacks and the financial and human resources needed to recover from even the smallest compromise. The discussion generally focuses on the need for data backups because it is essential to have strong backup technology and procedures, such as backing up all critical data and storing that data in multiple locations to minimize downtime following an attack. However, the tools that can help prevent an attack are often not discussed. With cyberattacks, the popular saying "it's not if but when" may be true for many organizations. All cities should dedicate time and resources to prevent cyberattacks. It can be daunting to keep up with new (and old) terms, technologies and concepts. Articles and experts refer to tools with little explanation of what they mean or can do for a municipality's security program. Unfortunately, long gone are the days of simply running antivirus software on all computers and servers that are the endpoints in your organization. Today, a strong cybersecurity program resembles an onion and includes many layers of protection. TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY

A robust cybersecurity program consists of many tools and technologies that create a trustworthy computing environment. Fortunately, there are resources to help select the right tools for our organizations. Some resources are even free to local governments. (See cybersecurity resources on p. 26.) Simply installing traditional antivirus and antimalware software that rely on signatures, which are like fingerprints that can help identify viruses, no longer protects computers and

networks. While using signatures is still a viable method for detecting malware, it should be only one layer in the endpoint security strategy. Some technologies that add layers of protection on top of traditional antivirus programs include: ▸ Endpoint detection and response (EDR) – This proactive technology identifies threats that antivirus companies haven't identified or patched. EDR continuously monitors network endpoints looking for anomalies in expected patterns to identify threats. EDR can respond to help mitigate an attack, including quarantine of the suspected malware to remove the threats and provide a root cause analysis. Extended detection and response (XDR) is an extension of EDR that improves capabilities and insight into the network and can cover more than just endpoints to include cloud services and other platforms that are a part of an organization's network. ▸ Ransomware rollback – This tool can revert an affected system to a known healthy state while identifying the process that caused the ransomware attack and remediating the problem. Ransomware rollback is sometimes included in EDR/XDR offerings. ▸ Application whitelisting – This process approves files running in a network environment and prevents files not on the approved list from running without intervention. With the proper administration, it is a powerful tool to keep cyber issues from cropping up. The drawback is that it requires careful setup and ongoing maintenance. ▸ Next-generation firewalls – These firewalls differ from traditional ones that provide simple data packet and traffic SECOND QUARTER 2022 | QUALITY CITIES 25



filtering by taking a deeper dive into the packets to identify malicious content before allowing traffic inside the network. These firewalls also provide application controls that can help filter malicious applications, user controls for more granular control of user security and sandboxing that sends files to be reviewed for malware before being let through. ▸ Intrusion prevention systems (IPS) and intrusion detection systems (IDS) – These systems are often included in next-generation firewalls but can be standalone products. An IDS continually monitors for malicious traffic via rules, behavior analysis or both. IDS is more passive and acts as an alert system to let you know when potentially malicious traffic is detected. IPS does what IDS does but will attempt to stop the malicious traffic from gaining entry into the network. TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES

Having all of these security precautions is an excellent start, but there are times when it is not possible to have these systems in place. Even if you do, it could still not be enough. It is often said that the weakest link in an organization's security posture is the human element. Our users are inherently good and want to do the right thing, but the bad guys are good at identifying and manipulating weaknesses to get us to click on links or open malicious files. That's where user security awareness training comes into play. A security awareness training program is extremely important and should have buy-in from the highest levels of the organization. All employees who work with a computer should be required, at a minimum, to have annual meaningful training that discusses current and emerging cyberattack trends. The Florida Legislature passed a bill this year (CS/HB 7055) that requires local governments to adopt cybersecurity standards and participate in annual trainings. (See more information, p. 33.) However, security awareness should be something users are mindful of year-round. In addition to regular training, organizations should evaluate programs that incorporate phishing tests and reminders throughout the year. Simple activities to implement are providing tips on having a safe computing environment and recognizing October as Cybersecurity Awareness Month. (For more information, visit bit.ly/3IPxzQ3.) It can be difficult to ascertain what security precautions are in place, where weaknesses may be present and what can be done to strengthen an organization's security posture. Understanding some of the newer concepts and technologies and the available resources to help in the cybersecurity battle means you don't have to go it alone! Mike Taylor is the Associate Director of Technology Services for the Florida League of Cities. QC

Attendees at the 2022 Florida Local Government Information Systems Association (FLGISA) conference participate in “war games.”

Cybersecurity Resources for Local Government ▸

The Florida Local Government Information Systems Association (FLGISA) is a member organization for local government IT professionals and focuses solely on local government information technology issues. The FLGISA offers resources to help IT professionals stay up to date, including two hosted conferences each year, cybersecurity and disaster recovery committees and message boards for members to share information. Go to flgisa.org for more information. There is a nominal membership fee, but it provides all IT staff access to FLGISA resources.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is a federal initiative designed to provide tools and resources to government entities to strengthen cybersecurity. Security insights and news, penetration testing and scanning, training, protection and detection, governance and cyber response are available. Many resources are free and can be viewed at cisa.gov/cybersecurity.

The Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), operated by the Center for Internet Security, works with the Department of Homeland Security and CISA and is free to local government agencies. Free resources include a cybersecurity awareness toolkit, cyber alerts, malicious code analysis, computer emergency response, threat assessments and webinars. Paid services such as intrusion detection systems, penetration testing, phishing engagements and vulnerability assessments are available. For more information, go to cisecurity.org/ms-isac.



LOCAL V ICES UNITED Grassroots Advocacy Expands

Residents can advocate for local decision-making! Help us spread the word about Local Voices United by encouraging residents to:

Visit localvoicesunited.com where they can learn about legislative issues, reach their local lawmakers and access advocacy tools and resources

Text Local Voices to 50457 to receive issue updates right to their phone

Like our Facebook page: Facebook.com/LocalVoicesUnited




FLC Ambassadors A Year in Review Two staff members reflect on their first year PHOTO COURTESY OF ERYN RUSSELL

by Shwanda Barnette and Eryn Russell Florida League of Cities Editor’s note: The Florida League of Cities (FLC) launched the Ambassador Program in 2010 to provide each city with a dedicated League staff member to serve as a city’s personal connection to the League. At the end of 2020, the League announced its newest ambassadors, Shwanda Barnette and Eryn Russell. The FLC Ambassadors have spent the last year connecting with members through city visits and special presentations, in person and virtually. Below, both reflect on their 2021 experiences during their first year as Ambassadors.


eing named the new FLC Ambassadors at the end of 2020 was exciting and daunting because one of our first thoughts was, “How can we connect with our members during a pandemic?” Luckily, we have a great group of cities in Florida that adapted to meet virtually until it was safer to meet in person again. These moments are just a few of the several wonderful opportunities our cities provided during our travels. We look forward to visiting many more municipalities in the future! ERYN: CENTRAL WEST AND NORTH FLORIDA

One of my favorite tasks as Ambassador is recognizing and awarding cities for their achievements through our FLC Awards program. In July, I visited the City of Atlantic Beach to present its Youth Council with the Youth Council Community Service Contest Award. Before the presentation, Mayor Ellen Glasser invited me to eat pizza with the students. It gave me the opportunity to listen to the students speak about future projects they envisioned for their hometown. It was such an inspiration to hear their passion for their City. I look forward to seeing everything the Youth Council will accomplish. In October, I had the opportunity to visit the City of Tavares. Councilmember Troy Singer and Director of Economic Development Bob Tweedie graciously provided me with a tour of the City’s downtown area. City Hall is a short walk from Lake Dora, which allows residents and visitors to fly in on seaplanes. Over time, Tavares earned the nickname “America’s Seaplane City.” The tour allowed me to see that the City has truly embraced this name and has grown due to its seaplane opportunities for residents and visitors, among other reasons. In November, while traveling in Levy County, I visited the Town of Otter Creek and met with Town Clerk Mary DeGroot.


The people I met in Otter Creek, a Town of slightly more than 100 residents, shared stories about the Town’s history, residents and character. I was touched by the heart that DeGroot and the Town’s elected officials put into making the Town a great place for their residents to live. I look forward to continuing to serve our membership. Every city, town and village in Florida is unique, and I count myself lucky to work for an organization that serves them all. Councilmember Troy Singer provided Eryn Russell with a tour of downtown Tavares.


League Ambassadors Shwanda Barnette and Eryn Russell at the City of Clermont to present the Youth Council with a 2021 Community Service Contest trophy.

Take Advantage of FLC's Ambassador Program The Ambassadors are your city's direct connection to the Florida League of Cities (FLC). If you need assistance from the League but are unsure of where to start, contact your Ambassador:

▸ ▸





Eryn Russell

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Palm Beach





Updated 10.14.20

Since becoming an Ambassador, I have had the privilege of seeing many of our beautiful Florida cities up close. I’ve learned so much about what makes each municipality unique. I now have a richer understanding of the concept that no two Florida municipalities are the same. My experience as an FLC Ambassador has reinforced the importance of local decisionmaking as I witness the unique needs and functions of each city, town and village I visit. In June, I traveled to the Village of Pinecrest to present the Youth Council Community Service Contest Award. I was met at Village Hall by Councilmember Katie Abbott , who surprised me with delicious pastries prepared at a local bakery and took me on a first-class tour of the beautiful village. As a longtime resident, Abbott shared historical knowledge and rich details about what makes the Village a great place to live as it has evolved over the years. Following the tour, I had dinner with the Village Council. I then met the members of their Youth Council to award the trophy for their amazing

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Shwanda Barnette presents the Pinecrest Youth Council members with their trophy.






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erussell@flcities.com 850.701.3616

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Ambassadors also celebrate successes with your city by presenting FLC awards, such as the Florida Municipal

Holmes Jackson Eryn Russell Santa Rosa AMBASSADOR PROGRAM – COUNTIES Achievement Awards, John Land Years COVERED of Service and Youth Council contest awards. North Awards + Central West Okaloosa

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Central East and Southern Florida: Shwanda Barnette, FLC Orlando office. 407.367.4024. sbarnette@flcities.com.

connect you with an FLC staff member to provide more in-depth information about your inquiry.

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Central West and North Florida: Eryn Russell, FLC Tallahassee office. 850.701.3616. erussell@flcities.com.

The Ambassadors can answer questions about membership benefits, provide your city with League resources and

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community service project. I received an insider’s view of what makes Pinecrest such a wonderful place to live, a view that I might not have experienced any other way. Later that summer, I traveled to the City of Boca Raton to present the City Council with the Municipal Achievement Award for Florida City Spirit. The Municipal Achievement Awards are the highest honors we give to Florida cities. Boca Raton was more than deserving for how its leaders worked quickly to bring their residents together safely at the start of the pandemic through the Public Library Story Walk Program. Amid the July surge in coronavirus cases, the Council implemented several safety measures to keep all meeting attendees safe. After my presentation, I stayed for the remainder of the meeting to learn more about Boca Raton. I was impressed with the many ways the City has come together to keep residents engaged since spring 2020. The City’s use of technology to move in-person programs to a virtual format was innovative and inspiring. In November, I visited the City of Altamonte Springs and the City of Lake Mary to award their Mayors with the John Land Years of Service Award in honor of 25 years of service to their respective cities. When Altamonte Springs Mayor Patricia J. Bates and Lake Mary Mayor David J. Mealor gave

their brief acceptance remarks, each noted the noble public service of Mayor John Land, who had been Mayor of Apopka for 60 years. Bates and Mealor gave personal reflections of the meaningful experiences they had working with and learning from him. These visits brought the award to life for me. I better understand the importance of recognizing the wisdom that comes with years of public service and what a labor of love it is to be a local government official. My experiences as an Ambassador deepened my understanding of what it means to a community when “local voices make local choices,” and they have given me the context to appreciate our fight to protect Home Rule. Shwanda Barnette and Er yn Russell are Ambassadors with the Florida League of Cities. Shwanda works in the Orlando office and can be reached at sbarnette@flcities.com or 407.917.2625. Eryn works in the Tallahassee office and can be reached at erussell@flcities.com or 850.443.2020. QC

The Florida League of Cities

Municipal Directory The Florida League of Cities Municipal Directory includes information on all municipalities: • Names of the elected and charter city officials • Mailing and street address of the city • Telephone and fax number of city offices • Primary city email and website where available This free online directory provides the most current information available. The Municipal Directory is available at flcities.com under “Resources & Research.” Email updates to erussell@flcities.com.







Parental Leave Benefits Explained

Recruitment, retention and employee morale boosted by Patti Graganella Florida League of Cities


n 1993, the United States passed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for several medical conditions as well as the birth or adoption of a baby. What was once only offered to mothers turned into “parental leave” (includes fathers and partners) several years ago. To illustrate how this benefit has changed further: On October 1, 2020, FMLA provisions were amended in Title 5, U.S. Code to provide up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave to covered federal employees in connection with the birth or placement (adoption or foster care) of a child. Although there has been a considerable shift in recent years, the United States still ranks among the lowest in the world for providing paid parental leave. Only eight states have publicly funded paid maternity leave in the nation. For workers at U.S. companies with fewer than 50 employees, there is no legal right to maternity leave, whether paid or unpaid. There are three common types of family leave: ▸ Paid paternal leave, which is offered to both parents. This leave often coincides with family medical leave. Companies usually offer 100% of pay for a specified amount of time (such as six, eight or 10 weeks). Eligible events are a child’s birth, adoption or placement (foster care). ▸ Paid maternity leave, which is offered to mothers for the birth, adoption or placement of a child. Like parental leave, maternity leave is taken at the same time as FMLA; however, it is paid by the employer. ▸ Paid paternity leave, which is offered to fathers and follows the same protocols as maternity leave. There are some significant arguments to implement some level of paid parental leave. ▸ Increase employee retention: Turnover impacts the bottom line. Replacing an employee costs an average of 21% of the employee’s base salary. Another statistic is about 30% of new

mothers leave the workforce within one year of giving birth. A study from the Center for Women and Work showed that women who have paid leave to care for a child are more likely to remain employed 12 months after the birth. ▸ Attract and retain new talent: The “new age employee’s” ideal is to have a work-life balance. More and more, this balance is important to new fathers. Gone are the days of only women taking care of the children. In a competitive market, every benefit offered as part of the employee value proposition matters. ▸ Increase productivity and boost employee morale: When an employee returns to work after leave, it provides a sense of job security and job satisfaction, which are linked to increased productivity and morale. ▸ Improve mental health and well-being of parents and children: Men and women alike have an opportunity to bond with their children. Although we have come a long way over the last 30 years, there is more work to be done with paid parental leave. An organization’s focus on employee well-being, work-life balance and morale are among the most important items that the workforce expects in 2022. Offering paid parental leave can give cities an edge when attracting candidates with modern benefits that will help to increase retention, attract new talent, boost morale and improve mental health. It can be a win-win for the employer and employee. Patti Graganella is the Chief Administrative Officer of the Florida League of Cities and is responsible for human resources and other areas. QC




Ormond Beach Commissioner Susan Persis (right) and Ponce Inlet Mayor Lois Paritsky meet with Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff (left) at Legislative Action Days.


Cities’ Engagement Brings Success

Together, municipal leaders made a difference this session

by Casey Cook Florida League of Cities


he 2022 Legislative Session would not have been as successful if not for you, our members. This year, you stepped up to make our collective voice heard. In a momentous year celebrating the Florida League of Cities’ (FLC’s) 100th anniversary, we saw record-breaking attendance in Tallahassee for Legislative Action Days. I echo League President Phillip Walker’s sentiment that bringing our united voices to the state Capitol in record numbers is perhaps the best way to honor FLC’s centennial anniversary. (Read more about Legislative Action Days on p. 40.) You met with legislators to advocate on behalf of our communities, and your engagement on key issues this session made a significant difference.





From left: Daytona Beach Shores Recreation and Economic Development Director Nancy Maddox, Sen. Travis Hutson, Daytona Beach Shores Mayor Nancy Miller, Ponce Inlet Mayor Lois Paritsky, Lake Helen Commissioner Roger Eckert and Daytona Beach Shores Director of Finance Kurt Swartzlander.

Largo Commissioner Jamie Robinson (standing) and Largo Mayor Woody Brown (right) meet with Rep. Michele K. Rayner.


When you have Home Rule authority, most of your time is spent trying to stop or amend bills that limit your ability to solve problems. This year we had an opportunity to play some offense by actively supporting four bills that passed: ▸ Smoking in public places ▸ Tree protection (FLC Priority) ▸ Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) ▸ Cybersecurity. The bill regarding smoking in public places (CS/HB 105) by

Rep. Randy Fine allows cities to restrict smoking within the

boundaries of any public beach or park they own. The bill prevents cities and counties from restricting unfiltered cigars. The bill relating to tree protection ordinances (CS/SB 518) by Sen. Jason Brodeur amends current legal provisions that prohibit local governments from requiring permits for the removal of trees defined as “dangerous” on residential property. The PFAS bill (CS/HB 1475) by Reps. Lawrence McClure and Toby Overdorf requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to adopt rules for cleanup target levels for PFAS in soil and groundwater. It also prohibits agencies from taking action relating to PFAS contamination until those rules are ratified by the Legislature. The cybersecurity bill (CS/HB 7055) requires local governments to adopt cybersecurity standards and participate in annual trainings. It also outlines reporting requirements for cyber PHOTOS COURTESY OF FLORIDA LEAGUE OF CITIES

From left: Lauderdale Lakes Vice Mayor Marilyn Davis, FLC Second Vice President and Cooper City Mayor Greg Ross, Parkland Commissioner Bob Mayersohn, Rep. Dan Daley, Lauderdale Lakes Commissioner Beverly Williams, Davie Councilwoman Susan Starkey and Lauderdale Lakes Commissioner Veronica Edwards Phillips.

and ransomware incidents and prohibits local governments from paying ransom demands. This bill is linked to another bill (CS/HB 7057) that creates a public record exemption for information related to a local government’s critical infrastructure and network schematics and for cybersecurity insurance coverage limits and deductible self-insurance amounts. The bill also creates a public meeting exemption for any meeting that would reveal information on a local government’s IT resources or data. These bills are sponsored by Rep. Mike Giallombardo and the State Administration and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee. The bills above have passed both chambers and, at the time of publication, are awaiting action by the Governor. While these four bills gave cities back their local decision-making authority, we know that’s not always the case. There were preemption bills that began as significant threats to cities’ Home Rule authority: the business damages against local government (CS/SB 620 and CS/CS/HB 569) and local ordinances/business impact estimates (CS/CS/SB 280 and CS/HB 403) bills. Where we ended with these bills based on where we started is a huge success. Much of the legislative process involves looking at whom the bill is important to and determining if it is likely to pass. Realizing that a bill is likely to pass, we try to make the bills as livable and workable as possible for our members. With your help, we worked to address many concerns with the original bills, and significant changes were made throughout the process. Knowing the political SECOND QUARTER 2022 | QUALITY CITIES 33



From left: FLC Manager for Advocacy Programs and Federal Affairs Allison Payne, Starke City Manager Russell Mullins, Starke Mayor Janice Mortimer, Rep. Sam Garrison, Orange Park Vice-Mayor Eddie Henley and his wife, Welaka Councilwoman Kathy Washington and Northeast Florida League of Cities Executive Director Betsy Jordan.

From left: Longboat Key Commissioner Penny Gold, Venice Council Member Joseph Neunder and Sarasota Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch meet with Rep. James Buchanan.

Members from Alachua County meet with Rep. Chuck Clemons (center).

landscape, these bills were watered down significantly to be made workable for our cities. Ultimately, the local ordinances bill stalled out in the House and failed to make it across the finish line. Thanks to your advocacy efforts, the local business damages bill was diluted in its impact on municipalities to the point that it is easily implementable by small and large cities. In the coming months, the League will be rolling out a series of tools to further help our cities implement these bills. These tools, along with more legislative resources including the full bill summaries and a final report, will be found online at flcities. com/advocacy. Thank you for your efforts to protect local self-governance and help make this session a success. WHAT’S NEXT

There were several preemption bills that were successfully killed this year, such as the sovereign immunity, utility transfer, short-term rental and waste contracts bills. We were able to stop these bills this year, but it is very likely that these bills will be back next year. Advocacy is a year-round effort that doesn’t end with sine die. To continue our success into the next legislative session and beyond, I encourage you to keep up your advocacy efforts. Ideas to 34 QUALITY CITIES | SECOND QUARTER 2022

boost advocacy efforts are included in The Advo-Kit, a resource produced by the League, at flcities.com/toolkit. This year will have an election, and an election year offers opportunities to further engage with your legislators. As they seek your endorsement, ask them how they’ve helped cities. Explain what Home Rule is and what it means to the citizens in the city they’re vying to represent. We are excited about the growth of Local Voices United (LVU), a grassroots community designed to empower Floridians to speak up in support of local self-government. Help us spread the word about LVU to your residents by encouraging them to visit localvoicesunited.com. On this website, they can learn about legislative issues, reach their local lawmakers and access advocacy tools and resources. This initiative will help us elevate Florida’s voices from the sidewalks to the state Capitol. Together, we continue to make our voices heard in support of local decision-making. Casey Cook is Director of Legislative Affairs for the Florida League of Cities. QC




Flood Coalition Offers Free Resources

Best practices and tools help cities protect their communities by Sheryl S. Jackson Florida League of Cities


n average annual rainfall between 40 and 60 inches per year and the number of streams, coastlines, rivers and lakes throughout Florida makes flooding one of the most common weather emergencies in the state. The American Flood Coalition (AFC) is a national organization that works with cities, civic organizations and individuals to advocate for flooding solutions and provide practical tools, resources and advice that support cities’ response to flooding. There is no cost to join the coalition, and 60 Florida cities are members. “The two most common reasons cities join the coalition are to network and share best practices with other cities and to access our resources,” said Kate Wesner, Florida Director for AFC. “These resources include a monthly newsletter with key grant deadlines and updates, articles that explain complicated processes and changes, and topic-specific briefings and reports.” Recent topics of articles and blogs include: ▸ Explaining how communities can prepare an application for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Building Resilient

Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program

▸ Outlining key flood resilience measures included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and explaining what these measures mean for communities on the frontlines of flooding ▸ Introducing the basics of flood insurance, Risk Rating 2.0 and other steps to reduce flood risk ▸ Providing details of Florida’s “Always Ready” law and explaining how communities can prepare for the new funding. Tools, guides and strategies are also available, with many of them online at floodcoalition.org. Resources include: ▸ AFC’s Flood Funding Finder tool that helps small communities identify the right federal funding programs to fund flood resilience ▸ AFC’s Adaptation for All guide that helps local leaders identify the most appropriate approaches to flooding or sea level rise for their communities ▸ AFC’s report, “Conversations with Communities: Considerations for Equitable Flooding and Disaster Recovery Policy,” which offers ways policymakers can improve social equity by elevating the voices of historically

underserved communities in disaster preparedness and recovery. “AFC serves as a resource for our members as they address flooding and sea level rise,” said Wesner. AFC has supported pilot projects to help local governments test new tools to explore adaptation options and hosted a Mayor’s Summit in Washington, D.C., to bring flooding issues to the nation’s capital. “The real power of our coalition is the ability to coalesce around flooding solutions together, ensuring that local voices are heard at the state and federal level.” The size, staffing and financial resources of AFC municipal members vary greatly, but everyone benefits from the opportunities to share best practices, access educational opportunities and learn how to maneuver funding opportunities, said Wesner. “We research issues that impact local governments, as well as funding opportunities, condensing information into easier-to-understand formats and language,” she said. “This helps cities of any size find the information and resources they need.” For more information about AFC, visit floodcoalition.org or contact kate@floodcoalition.org. Sheryl S. Jackson is a Writer/Editor for the Florida League of Cities. QC SECOND QUARTER 2022 | QUALITY CITIES 35




100 YEARS From left: Commissioner Jill Luke, Commissioner Debbie McDowell, Commissioner Alice White, Mayor Pete Emrich and City Manager Jerome Fletcher II at Legislative Action Days. All are from the City of North Port.


100-Year Celebration Continues FLC Annual Conference, Legislative Action Days and Hometown Health are marking centennial by Joy Dickinson Florida League of Cities


he Florida League of Cities’ (FLC’s) 100th anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate the past while looking to the future. Nowhere is this opportunity more evident than in the plans for the League’s Annual Conference to be held August 11-13 at the Diplomat Beach Resort – Hollywood. The Annual Conference will have a return to the formal event held in former years that includes a sit-down dinner with entertainment. The event will be black tie optional.

100TH ANNIVE RSARY The conference also will include a History Hub near the registration area. Attendees can visit the booth to reflect on the 100year history of the League. The display will show the League’s history through mementos, scrapbooks and a video that includes voices from the past. Stop by to share some of your fondest League memories with the Ambassadors and other staff who have their own stories to share. The Annual Conference isn’t the only League event that’s been tied to the centennial. At Legislative Action Days, participants had the opportunity to provide video testimonials and have their photos taken with large “100” numbers. Those same numbers, along with large letters that spell out FLC and LOCAL VOICES, will be available for selfies at the Annual Conference. HOMETOWN HEALTH JOINS THE CELEBRATION

Starke City Manager Russell Mullins, with Starke Mayor Janice Mortimer, wears his 100-year pin at Legislative Action Days.


Hometown Health has planned multiple activities as part of the League’s centennial, including one at the FLC Annual Conference. Hometown Health is an employee health promotion program for municipalities that have group health insurance with the Florida Municipal Insurance Trust (FMIT). PHOTOS COURTESY OF SYDNEY FRASER



City Clerk Audrey Sikes (right) of Lake City with personal trainer Nikki Griswold.



Here are some of the activities held during the year or planned: ▸ Practice yoga at the Annual Conference. A sunrise yoga event is planned for the August conference on the beach. It is open to all conference attendees and all fitness levels. Those who plan to attend the Annual Conference can sign up for the yoga event when they register. ▸ Take a health pledge. Members can take a pledge to put their health and wellness first. When they sign it, members also list their reason for taking the pledge. They explain what aspect of health they’re going to focus on daily and how they will practice self-care. Once members have signed the pledge, they are encouraged to submit a photograph and post their pledge on social media. This event concludes at the Annual Conference. ▸ Walk 100 miles in 100 days. Beginning March 2, Hometown Health challenged its members to walk these miles over a 100-day period. “One hundred miles sounds like a lot, but they can do it on lunch breaks or after work,” said Gwen Mahabir, Hometown Health Manager. “All of it counts.” They can break up the 100 miles any way they choose, as long as the total is 100 miles. Members can track the miles via an app, a smart device or manually. Every week, members report how many miles they’ve completed. ▸ Bike 100 miles. Beginning in July through FLC Annual Conference, members are encouraged to ride a cumulative total of 100 miles or more. They can ride a bike or an exercise bike. Once members have completed their 100th mile, they’re asked to send in a photograph to commemorate their accomplishment. ▸ Complete 100 repetitions of an exercise. During February, Hometown Health challenged its members to complete 100 pushups, squats or situps in one day. They were given the option to exercise in a single session or break up the repetitions throughout the day. Once they completed the challenge, members were encouraged to invite three municipal officials to the challenge. They were instructed to send in selfies and the names of those they nominated. For more information about Hometown Health or any of these activities, email hometownhealth@flcities.com. Joy Dickinson is Editor and Creative Project Manager at the Florida League of Cities. QC

DID YOU KNOW? The Florida League of Cities (FLC) has a time capsule at the Tallahassee building that will be opened in 2048. The FLC is two years older than the National League of Cities (NLC). In the 1970s, all chartered counties became eligible for membership. In the mid-1980s, the League offered the FLC Bulletin Board with 24/7 info to computer-enabled cities. Former FLC Presidents have served as Governor (Bob Martinez) and Florida Secretary of State (Glenda E. Hood). Three past League Presidents served as NLC Presidents: Hans G. Tanzler (1976), Glenda E. Hood (1992) and Clarence Anthony (1999). First FLC paid staffer was a colonel. Colonel E.P. Owens was first Executive Director. The Special Investigation Unit has caught 74 people committing fraud against cities.



Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Florida League of Cities August 11-13, 2022 · Diplomat Beach Resort, Hollywood

Registration information coming soon! flcities.com/annualconference





Educa-tainer Mickey Smith Jr. is a Grammy Music Educator Award recipient who hails from a forgotten community in Louisiana and now stands on phenomenal stages encouraging people to “See the Sound and Keep On Going.” Smith is an acclaimed international speaker, saxophonist, author, master development coach and self-management strategist. He is committed to encouraging and equipping all with the tools to “Discover Their Sound” of significance and “Keep On Going” with resilience. Smith specializes in engaging, educating and elevating every audience member to excellence. Smith believes that everyone has a “sound” (a significance) that has the power to resonate with others and create a shift in thoughts and perspectives. Smith’s motivational mixture of music and message teaches how to reach people with consistency, intention and strategy.

Ben Nemtin is the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of “What Do You Want to Do Before You Die?” and a star of MTV’s highest-rated show on iTunes and Amazon called “The Buried Life.” As the co-founder of The Buried Life movement, Nemtin’s message of radical possibility has been featured on the “Today” show, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” CNN, FOX and NBC News. President Barack Obama called Nemtin and The Buried Life “inspiration for a new generation,” and Winfrey declared their mission “truly inspiring.” In his first year of college, Nemtin was unexpectedly hit with a depression that forced him to drop out. To feel more alive, he created the world’s greatest bucket list with his three best friends. They borrowed a rickety, old recreational vehicle, crisscrossed North America and achieved the unthinkable. And most importantly, every time they accomplished a dream, they helped a stranger cross something off their bucket list. From playing basketball with Obama to having a beer with Prince Harry, from reuniting a father and son after 17 years to surprising a young girl with a much-needed bionic arm, Nemtin’s bucket list quest has inspired millions to thrive personally and professionally.


Magician/comedian and recent Critics’ Choice Awards nominee Justin Willman has cemented himself as one of today’s most prolific entertainers. In 2018, Willman premiered his six-episode magic series on Netflix titled “Magic for Humans.” In the series, Willman brings his skills as a magician to America’s strange and misunderstood subcultures while incorporating his disarming demeanor into street magic and social experiments that will boggle the mind. IndieWire called Willman the “perfect magician/hybrid prototype with incredible comedic timing,” and Rotten Tomatoes has the show listed at an 85% audience approval. The Los Angeles Times exclaimed that Willman is “a new breed of magician who’s making magic cool again for grown-ups.” Before “Magic for Humans,” Willman was known for his multiple appearances on “The Tonight Show,” “The Ellen Degeneres Show” and “Conan.” He also performed live at the White House for the Obama family. His debut comedy/ magic special “Sleight of Mouth with Justin Willman” premiered on Comedy Central in 2015 to rave reviews.




FLC President Phillip E. Walker welcomes attendees to Legislative Action Days. FLC First Vice President Jolien Caraballo leads the invocation and pledge of allegiance.


Municipal officials hear a legislative briefing from the League.


Legislative Action Days Recap Walker leads officials as they share their united voices

by Kelli Gemmer Florida League of Cities



unicipal officials were eager to bring the power of local voices to the state capital this year, and it showed in their sheer numbers. After a virtual event in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Florida League of Cities’ (FLC’s) Legislative Action Days returned in person this year with record attendance. More than 250 municipal officials convened in Tallahassee February 8-9, which was the highest attendance in the event’s history. FLC President Phillip Walker said, “For 100 years, the League has advocated for local self-government. I can think of no better way to honor our centennial anniversary




The League’s legislative team shares updates on major bills affecting cities. From left: Director of Legislative Affairs Casey Cook, Deputy General Counsel/Legislative Counsel David Cruz, Senior Legislative Advocate Jeff Branch, Deputy General Counsel Rebecca O’Hara, Senior Legislative Advocate Amber Hughes and Legislative Advocate Tara Taggart.

than to bring our united voices to the state Capitol in record numbers to advocate for our communities.” Legislative Action Days is an opportunity for municipal officials across the state to come together during the legislative session and advocate for legislative issues impacting cities. The event provides opportunities for city leaders to meet with lawmakers about local impacts and network with other elected officials. Fifth-time attendee Jen Ahearn-Koch, Commissioner for the City of Sarasota, said, “It’s a really important effort, not only for us to build those relationships at the state level but also for our citizens at home to understand that they, too, are impacted by the Legislature.” The two-day event kicked off with a legislative briefing from the FLC lobbying team about major bills and messages that needed to be shared with legislators. Following the briefing, Walker recognized the FLC Legislative Policy Committee Chairs for their dedication and efforts in the legislative process. These committees meet regularly during session to bolster the League’s advocacy efforts. Members headed to the Capitol to advocate for Home Rule by meeting with legislators, discussing priority issues and testifying in committees to share real-world examples of local impacts from proposed legislation. (Watch the video recap at bit.ly/34Y4kLw.) Through a unified voice, the League’s members and legislative team were able to make a significant difference this legislative session. (See p. 32 for more about the session.) “Regardless of where you’re from, or what your political ideology is, there’s one thing we all agree on, and that’s supporting local decision-making authority,” said Walker. “Together, we will make a difference, as we know we’re stronger together.” Kelli Gemmer is the Assistant Editor for the Florida League of Cities. QC

DEI Training for Cities and Staff Florida League of Cities (FLC) President Phillip Walker is dedicated to expanding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts for cities during his one-year term. As part of this effort, Walker encourages cities and their staffs to take advantage of the DEI education and training that the Florida League of Cities University (FLCU) provides. FLCU’s DEI training offerings provide introductory education and facilitation of difficult conversations for city leaders and staff. These customizable programs are designed to address the specific areas of interest for each municipality. “Our training philosophy is that we don’t aim to create guilt or shame, but rather share new perspectives, backed by historical context and data-driven concepts,” said FLC Ambassador Shwanda Barnette. “We give attendees an opportunity to grapple with difficult terms and topics and apply what’s learned to practical scenarios.” Scott Paine, Director of Leadership Development and Education for FLCU, said, “It can be tempting simply to avoid talking about how race has played and continues to play a role in the challenges and opportunities people face. But avoiding a difficult conversation doesn’t resolve anything; it just bottles up the tensions and preserves the misunderstandings. FLCU’s training is designed to create context and space that foster opening up to those conversations so that all of us can grow.” To learn more about available DEI training dates and scheduling opportunities, contact Christen Barton at cbarton@flcities.com.




Communicating In Power Outages

How to creatively provide services in times of crisis


ommunicators rely heavily on social media to get out their message to residents and visitors in their community, but what’s the solution when social media sites are down and you can’t rely on a Facebook alert or a Twitter post? After all, accuracy and efficiency are critical in times of crisis. Those key concepts are not lost on Justin Shea, Cultural Facilities Events Supervisor for the City of Gulfport. He has also served in a public information role for the City and recommends having a main marketing platform to get your message out quickly across the most networks. “Time is of the essence,” Shea said. “Connecting your outreach services outside of a crisis will help with communicating efficiently during an emergency.” Constant Contact is the primary hub Shea uses for communicating with the residents of Gulfport. The City’s social media channels are all connected to their Constant Contact account so that information can be disseminated at one time through that platform. It’s sent out through an email newsletter and simultaneously posted on Facebook. Shea was serving as the new Public Information Officer (PIO) for the City when a waterspout came onshore as a tornado


and swept through the City during Tropical Storm Andrea. “I was able to drive to City Hall,” Shea said. He saw that power lines were down and street signs were pulled out. He knew it would be important to get information to the local television networks. Instead of holding a press conference, Shea drafted a press release with key information and hand-delivered it due to the proximity of the stations and the fact that signals may have been down immediately after the storm. The message for Gulfport residents at the time was that Duke Energy was responding to the power outages, and everyone was encouraged to stay in their homes until they received word it was safe to leave. Using the City’s website is also an important tool in the communicator’s toolkit in an emergency. If social media sites are down or glitching, a city’s website can be a key source of information. “We have a special storm activation page on the City’s website that is on a completely separate server,” Shea said. “We constantly update it with need-toknow information in the time of crisis.” Shea said having the appropriate equipment is also important in a power outage. Having backup batteries and a

by Kara Irby Florida League of Cities

mobile hotspot proved invaluable. During Hurricane Irma, the City lost power for a week, which led city staff to submit a federal grant to upgrade the generators. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends municipal communicators have their “PIO Go-Kit” ready for an emergency. The go-kit includes contractual agreements with companies that will provide essential services in a crisis. Services such as closed captioning, the printing of emergency documents and translation services are just some of the agreements that should be in place to assist with public information operations. Other items in your go-kit are more tangible. Office supplies, a laptop or tablet, a portable printer with an alternate power supply, maps, a battery-powered radio, your emergency operations plan and even your agency letterhead should be easily accessible if an emergency incident occurs and the power is out. You can find more resources regarding emergency communication at fema.gov. Kara Irby is a Communications Specialist at the Florida League of Cities. QC




Preparing for Infrastructure Act Funding

Understand programs that fit city priorities by Kent Moore American Structurepoint

Business Watch connects businesses and local government elected officials, leaders and management, and it provides a unique network to share knowledge necessary to both the public and private sectors. Together, Business Watch government and corporate members are a powerful coalition to better our economy, influence public policy and strengthen our communities. Visit businesswatchinc.com to learn more.


new era of infrastructure funding is upon us as programs from the massive Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) launch. While the $864 billion IIJA addresses several sectors, transportation remains the primary focus and received 68% of the available funds. To be successful, cities should be proactive and organized and should identify projects best meeting each program’s requirements. IIJA distributes funding through new and expanded existing competitive and formula-based funds. According to the Brookings Institution, 76.4% of available funding goes to state-administered formula funding programs. This statistic is important to remember as resources are allocated for funding application efforts. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will receive an additional $13.3 billion over five years in formula funding. This amount is a 26% increase over the typical annual formula distribution. The table below shows other Florida formula distributions. While most IIJA funding is distributed via formula to states, about 86 new competitive funding programs spring from IIJA. Two interesting programs for Florida agencies are a $12.5 billion bridge improvement program and a $6 billion Safe Streets and Roads for All program reducing crashes and fatalities, especially for cyclists and pedestrians. WHAT FLORIDA CITIES CAN DO TO PREPARE

1. Research new competitive funding programs to identify fund-

ing streams to target. Be aware of application deadlines.

Florida Formula Funding Over Five Years SECTOR


Bridges and Roads

$13.3 billion

Public Transit

$2.8 billion


$1.2 billion

Resilience for Transportation Systems

$364 million

Transportation-Related Emissions

$320 million

Water Infrastructure

$275 million

Electric Vehicle Charges

$198 million

Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Efforts

$103 million

Highway Safety Programs

$100 million

Sources: U.S. Department of Transportation bit.ly/3htyV6x and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency bit.ly/3vpNxvX


2. Identify local projects matching up to one or several available

IIJA funding types.

3. Prioritize projects based on need and the probability of re-

ceiving funds. If you have a capital improvement plan or capital improvement program, consult your prioritized project list. Look for projects fitting the requirements of existing and new programs. 4. Support local funding match. This step will be critical for grant application credibility. Display local support for project funding through written declaration, such as a resolution, from the fiscal body. This declaration will show elected leadership and community support for appropriating local matches for priority projects if they receive federal funding. 5. Work closely with your metropolitan planning organization (MPO) to get your road, highway and bridge projects priori-

tized on your MPO’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). MPOs are expected to receive additional funding.

6. Begin early project scoping, preliminary design and environmental processes for highest priority projects in advance of

application. This step will show reviewing authorities that IIJA’s accelerated delivery requirements will be achieved. 7. Assign grant application resources strategically. Because IIJA’s formula funding opportunities are more plentiful, communities should be selective when assigning resources toward lower probability competitive dollars versus formula dollars. 8. Contact your local FDOT district representative for information about the formula-based funding headed to local entities. Make a case for your priority projects. Important: Federal guidance issued in the American Rescue Plan Act (APRA) final rule effective April 1, 2022, increases flexibility to use this funding for design activities and as a match on federal grants. This change gives local governments an increased ability to start design and environmental preparation to better position themselves to receive IIJA funding. To learn more about IIJA funding programs, go to bit.ly/fundingFL or scan the QR code. Kent Moore is a Vice President and partner with American Structurepoint, a multidisciplinary engineering consulting firm. He can be reached at kmoore@structurepoint.com. QC SECOND QUARTER 2022 | QUALITY CITIES 43



A recycling truck in a Kissimmee neighborhood.

One of Clearwater’s Underground Refuse System bins.




Recycling Right

Cities offer creative solutions to service challenges by Kelli Gemmer Florida League of Cities


ecycling is an important part of waste management, but cities have faced challenges over the past few years, from declining recyclables resale value to pandemic effects. China used to be one of the nation’s top collectors of recyclables. For many cities, recycling became economically unfeasible when China implemented a solid waste import ban in 2018. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the issue with a nationwide shortage of waste collection workers and increased residential waste caused by residents working from home. Contamination, which occurs when nonrecyclable items are mixed in with recyclables, continues to be an expensive challenge for cities as well. Amid these challenges and rising costs, municipalities have had to get creative in how they approach this service. CITIES IMPLEMENT UNDERGROUND REFUSE SYSTEMS

In 2017, the City of Kissimmee partnered with Kissimmeebased company Underground Refuse Systems to become the first North American city to install an underground refuse system. 44 QUALITY CITIES | SECOND QUARTER 2022

These trash and recycling containers hold a large volume of refuse 12 feet underground until the City’s sanitation division picks it up on its scheduled day. The systems eliminate odors, protect the refuse from weather and animals, save space and are more aesthetically appealing than regular containers. It also has a locking system that deters illegal dumping. (Watch a video of Kissimmee’s Underground Refuse System in action at bit.ly/3v5cLiO.) Kissimmee has seven units downtown, and the first unit was at City Hall. Last fall, the City of Clearwater became the second city in the nation to install these Underground Refuse Systems. In addition to helping keep Clearwater “bright and beautiful” and reducing litter, the large volume of refuse that the systems contain has helped decrease collection frequency for the City. “It solved a lot of problems with public space recycling as well as garbage collection,” said Earl Gloster, Director of Solid Waste/Recycling. Gloster has also seen contamination decrease with these systems. “The underground containers that we use are marked just like all of our recycling containers, but people seem to be more

FEATURE Orlando tote distribution.


has dedicated staff who assist with the entire recycling process including site consultations, educational workshops or presentations, recycling verifications, research on participation and contamination rates, and ongoing customer service. Additionally, the City has a Sustainability Action Plan that includes a goal of zero waste to the landfill by 2040. Recycling is just one component and is supplemented by a commercial food waste program, residential composting and other waste diversion efforts. For more information, visit bit.ly/3GEKEJt. CITIES OFFER DROP-OFF LOCATIONS


In its recycling efforts, the City of Orlando has focused on commercial and multifamily waste, which accounts for nearly twice the residential waste tonnage. Increasing commercial and multifamily recycling helps divert waste from landfills, recovers a greater percentage of raw materials and decreases garbage collection, resulting in a reduction of the total waste bill, the City said in a flyer on the benefits of recycling. “Strong waste reduction programs, such as commercial and multifamily recycling, can create new businesses and jobs and strengthen our local economy.” In 2019, the City passed a mandatory recycling ordinance requiring all commercial and multifamily properties to provide the opportunity for recycling. Before passing this ordinance, the City engaged in an extensive outreach campaign that included city officials and outside organizations such as property managers and owners, haulers, residents, businesses and other surrounding municipalities. In addition, Orlando conducted inspections of over 100 city facilities. The City’s recycling ordinance takes a phased-in approach that allows increases in participation without an immediate or overwhelming increase in accompanying contamination. These phases are stretched out over four years, ending in April 2023. Orlando has partnered with other organizations, including the Florida Beverage Association and The Recycling Partnership, to tackle challenges from the influx of new recyclers. The City

St. Augustine electronics recycling event.




thoughtful about what they throw in it, and we’ve gotten some really clean recycling out of there,” he said. “This has helped us with the cost because the more clean recycling we have without contamination, the better off we are and the better price we’ll get for our recycling.”

Community collection events and drop-off locations provide an affordable opportunity to collect recyclables for many cities. The City of St. Augustine offers three recycling events per year: in January after the holidays, April for Earth Day and November for America Recycles Day. The collection events focus on collecting outdated/broken electronics and used cooking oils and include free document shredding in April and November. The City also accepts recyclable materials daily during regular business hours throughout the year at the Solid Waste Facility and the Wastewater Treatment Plant. “As a coastal community, we have a responsibility to keep our local ecosystem thriving, and this can be accomplished by properly recycling waste as well as doing our part to maintain the City’s wastewater system,” said Glabra Skipp, Environmental Program Coordinator for St. Augustine. Over 175 residents participated in the City’s January 2022 event, which diverted two truckloads of electronic-waste from landfills and 35 gallons of cooking oil from storm and sewer drains. At the November 2021 event, the City recycled 8,160 pounds of paper, five gallons of cooking oil and five pallets of electronics. St. Augustine Solid Waste Manager Olivia Smith said, “Waste management strategies are an essential part of creating sustainable and educational programs, which properly divert materials throughout our community. The success of these events over the past decade is derived from the outreach awareness and variety of environmental programs created at low to no cost.” (For more information and video highlights from past events, visit bit.ly/3uGZ1ec.)



Recycling containers at Pensacola’s 24/7 drop-off center.

The City of Pensacola recently opened a new recycling dropoff center open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is videomonitored 24/7 to ensure proper use of the site and to deter illegal dumping of nonrecyclable materials. The center includes three containers for residents to properly dispose of recyclables including cardboard, plastic, glass and more. CORAL SPRINGS REWARDS RESIDENTS

Earlier this year, the City of Coral Springs launched a recycling rewards program aimed at reducing contamination, which helps keep the cost of recycling down. The program rewards residents who have curbside recycling and recycle the correct materials. Residents registered in the program may have their filled recycling bin checked for contamination on their collection day by a city employee. If the bin passes a contamination review, the resident could receive a $25 gift card and be highlighted on Coral Springs’ social media pages to encourage fellow residents to recycle right. Gift cards are limited, and not all who register will be selected. The City also shares photos of City Commission members using their blue roll-out cart for curbside recycling to promote the initiative. “We’ve already had an incredible response to the Recycling Rewards program from Coral Springs residents,” said John Norris , Public Works Director for the City. “The program is moving us toward our goal of achieving a citywide contamination level of 30% or lower by the end of the summer.” Coral Springs Sustainability Manager Monica Ospina said, “The Recycling Rewards program directly correlates to our sustainability efforts. Our goal is to always be focused in the three

Coral Springs City Commissioner Nancy Metayer.


Ps: people, planet and prosperity, and having an active recycling program in the City hits all of those marks.” Coral Springs is also engaging local students in recycling. In partnership with the City, Coral Springs Charter School launched an on-site school recycling program in January. In the program’s first month of operation, 10 96-gallon recycling carts were processed with a 0% contamination rate. The City also hosted a recycled art contest for local K-12 students judged by city staff. PAIRING ACTION WITH EDUCATION

While offering opportunities for recycling is important, it is also crucial to educate residents on what items are recyclable. (See how cities find innovative ways to educate residents in the 2020 First Quarter issue of Quality Cities at bit.ly/3gimIRD.) For example, plastic bags are one of the most common recycling contaminants. Reducing contaminated materials will help save recycling costs, tax dollars and the environment. Because contamination is considered garbage, the processor charges to dispose of it, and these costs can offset any revenue a city might receive from the valuable recyclables. “Contamination is not good for recycling, and the more educated and astute about recycling that we can get our residents to be, the better off we’ll all be,” said Gloster. The City of North Port posts recycling tip videos ranging from typical nonrecyclable items that might be found in bins to common questions on items such as batteries and pizza boxes. The City’s award-winning Solid Waste Division also releases an annual lipsync video each year to thank its residents for their work to improve clean recycling habits. (Watch the video at bit.ly/3svYSsv.)

Environmental Awareness Club at Coral Springs Charter School.








While it has been a challenging few years for the recycling industry, recycling is on the increase, according to Gloster. “Over the past six months, the recycling markets have improved greatly,” he said. “We have started to receive a little revenue return on our recycling, and that’s a positive for the industry. Processors are starting to see the market change. As more processers come online and more mills are available to process the recyclables and turn them back into durable goods in this country, the market will get better.” Kelli Gemmer is the Assistant Editor for the Florida League of Cities. QC

INSURANCE FRAUD THE CRIME EVERYONE PAYS FOR Insurance fraud costs the average family $400-700 annually.

Recycling Resources ▸

The Florida Beverage Association offers a grant program to community organizations for programs and initiatives that work to advance the physical health of its local citizens and/or the environmental sustainability of its communities. Past recipients of the community grant include the Cities of Miami, Orlando and Tampa. For more

Help reduce these costs by reporting fraud.

UP TO $5,000 REWARD For information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person found guilty of a crime involving insurance fraud against the Florida Municipal Insurance Trust.

information on the program, visit flabev.org.

FloridaRecycles.org is a public education program sponsored by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and fellow partners to educate residents on recycling. It provides down-


loadable resources at floridarecycles.org/resources.

The Recycling Partnership offers free toolkits to cities looking to improve recycling, including “DIYSigns” editable templates to show what is recyclable and where. Visit bit.ly/3v0Kbzb for the templates bit.ly/3gg5p3w for more free resources such as a social media kit and recycling anti-contamination kit.





Priority-based Budgeting Research reveals which governments can best benefit by David Mitchell University of Central Florida


riority-based budgeting (PBB) marks the latest attempt to revamp how local governments allocate their dollars among their departments. Implemented in over 300 municipalities across North America, PBB is designed to identify an organization’s service-delivery programs and their associated costs, determine organizational priorities, rate the programs according to their alignment with said priorities and then reallocate budgetary resources from lower-priority programs to the higher priority ones. PBB has been advertised as a budget reduction tool and a strategic alternative to align resources with organizational goals. For these reasons, PBB has been recognized by the


International City/County Management Association

(ICCMA) as a leading practice and as a best practice by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) and the National League of Cities (NLC). Does PBB fulfill its promise? A team of University of Central Florida (UCF) public budgeting scholars has partnered with ResourceX, the leading PBB consulting firm, to examine the departmental budgetary trends within 32 U.S. local governments that were among the earliest PBB adopters. Overall, the study determined that PBB led to a 2.4% reduction in funding for programs in the lowest quartile of priority while all others received a 2.2% budgetary increase. For the average local government


RESEARCH in the study, this difference translated to a $900,000 transfer of funds within a $73 million budget. While this level of reallocation is significant, it must be considered against the substantial upfront organizational burden to identify program costs and organizational priorities, which leaves some to question whether this level of reallocation is worth all the work. However, further research indicated that PBB might work in some communities better than others. For instance, the more politically conservative communities in the study witnessed a 10.2% reduction in funding for their lowest-priority programs, almost 8% more than average. Those local governments that received the most federal and state assistance saw an 8% reduction for lower-priority programs. Communities with a smaller population, more affluence or less racial diversity each produced approximately 5% reductions. Interestingly, in all of these cases, there was not a fully corresponding increase for higher-priority programs, which means the reallocated funds were put toward capital projects, put toward organizational reserves or used to address budgetary deficits. Additional research is necessary to understand this dynamic better. Likewise, the research indicates that PBB disproportionately impacts some municipal functions while others are largely exempt from the process. Core functions such as public safety and public works did not see significant budgetary reductions in their lower-priority programs, but the budget for higher-priority programs in these departments largely remained static as well. For these functions, broader factors such as shifts in community population, politics, income and age tended to drive budgetary changes. However, the more discretionary functions such as planning and development, quality of life and general administration encountered relatively deep cuts to their lower-priority programs, ranging from 4-6%. Higher-priority programs in these departments correspondingly received 1-4% budgetary increases, indicating that the logic behind PBB rings truer for discretionary functions. Taken together, these findings indicate that PBB is not a “silver bullet” to slash budgets, align dollars with goals or achieve strategic objectives, because that silver bullet does not exist. However, it has proven to be a useful budgetary tool, especially in particular contexts. PBB appears to be most effective in more homogenous, resource-rich environments where budgetary conflict is less prevalent. Additionally, PBB looks to be more impactful for marginal, discretionary functions, working at the edges of government without threatening core services. Thus, while implementing PBB may not single-handedly eliminate a substantial structural budget deficit or overcome diverse and deep community divisions, the system can streamline municipal functions and free up significant funds to be reoriented toward organizational priorities. Local governments that find this appealing should also weigh these benefits against the often substantial organizational burden to implement PBB. More and more local governments implement PBB each year and generate impressive success stories that indicate a staying power for the budgetary approach beyond the typical “management fad.” However, a savvy municipal leader recognizes that even the most effective tools work best only in certain contexts. Do you wish to overcome a fractious and divisive budgetary fight,


Priority-based Budgeting LEADS TO:


decrease in budget for low-priority programs


increase in budget for high-priority programs


▸ In communities that are:

Smaller More affluent More politically conservative Less diverse ▸ On discretionary services Source: University of Central Florida and ResourceX

dramatically revamp the organizational budget or implement PBB without sufficient fiscal and administrative capacity? PBB may not be for your organization. Do you wish to engage the community collaboratively to streamline government, make measured investment toward community goals and have sufficient capacity to implement? In this case, research has demonstrated that priority-based budgeting can make the difference in your organization achieving these budgetary and strategic goals. David Mitchell is an Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida (UCF) School of Public Administration. Mitchell led the research team behind this study and specializes in public budgeting and strategic management within local governments. QC SECOND QUARTER 2022 | QUALITY CITIES 49





Food Safety Tips

Keeping guests and family safe in warm weather by Sheryl S. Jackson Florida League of Cities


pringtime in Florida is perfect for outdoor gatherings, cookouts, trips to the beach and camping. Getting together with friends and family to enjoy each other’s company is important, but be sure to keep food safety in mind. These tips help prevent food poisoning or foodborne illness no matter how large the gathering is or where it occurs. GENERAL TIPS

▸ Don’t eat anything that has been in the sun or heat for more than two hours or more than one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees. ▸ Keep hands clean when preparing food by using disposable moist towelettes that contain at least 60% alcohol. ▸ When grilling, throw out marinades and sauces that have touched raw meat juices, which can spread germs to cooked foods. ▸ Use clean utensils and a clean plate to remove cooked meat from a grill.


▸ Be sure the vendor has a license to sell food. ▸ Make sure that employees wear gloves and use tongs when serving food. ▸ Bring hand sanitizer or disposable wipes in the event there aren’t places to wash hands.


▸ Pack perishables directly from the refrigerator or freezer into a cooler.


▸ Use an appliance thermometer in the cooler to ensure the food stays chilled at 40 degrees or below. ▸ Keep raw meat and poultry wrapped separately from cooked foods or foods that are eaten raw, such as fruits. ▸ For long trips, take two coolers – one for foods, drinks and snacks to be eaten that day and one for perishable foods to be eaten later. CAMPING

▸ Place the cooler in a shady spot, and cover it with a lightcolored blanket or poncho to reflect heat. ▸ Bring bottled water or other canned or bottled drinks because the water in streams is untreated and not safe to drink. ▸ Buy shelf-stable food to ensure food safety.


▸ Only take food that will be eaten at the beach to avoid throwing out other items because they sat in the heat. ▸ Partially bury the cooler in the sand, cover it with blankets and shade it with an umbrella.

Including food safety practices on the planning list for the family get-together or the beach trip ensures that everyone will look back on the springtime outing with pleasant memories. Sheryl S. Jackson is a Writer/Editor with the Florida League of Cities. QC Sources: fsis.usda.gov, cdc.gov/foodsafety VGAJIC/E+/GETTY IMAGES




Going Green

The unexpected benefits of houseplants by Erika Branchcomb Florida League of Cities


ouseplants have always been an easy way to spruce up home decor and bring some of the outdoors inside. Recently, particularly during the long months of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, houseplants have become increasingly popular for their science-backed health benefits and aesthetic beauty. Researchers have discovered numerous mental and physical health benefits from cultivating and caring for indoor plants. From stress relief to better sleep, houseplants can improve your well-being in multiple ways. ▸ Breathe easier. Research has confirmed that houseplants can filter volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that make it harder to breathe indoors. The plant’s foliage serves as a natural air filter by catching dust and other airborne allergens. Some of the most effective species for improved air quality include spider plants, Ficus trees, rubber plants and bamboo palms. ▸ Stress less. Simply being around plants can have a soothing effect. According

to a study published in the Journal of American Anthropology, keeping plants in our home or office helps make us more calm, comfortable and natural. ▸ Increase productivity. Numerous studies have found a correlation between workspaces with indoor plants and increased productivity. A 2007 study showed people who worked in an environment with plants took fewer sick days and were more productive during work hours. Additionally, in classrooms with three or more houseplants, students performed better on tests. ▸ Recover quicker. Having plants or flowers in the room after an illness or surgery could speed your recovery. Kansas State University researchers discovered that patients with plants in their rooms typically had lower heart rates and blood pressure, needed less pain medication and suffered less fatigue and anxiety post-surgery. ▸ Sleep better. Through photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Many plants give off

oxygen during the day. When photosynthesis stops at night, they switch to discharging carbon dioxide. But some plants, such as succulents, orchids, bromeliads and snake plants, continue releasing oxygen even at night, which can lead to more restful sleep. When choosing houseplants, be sure to consider safe species for children and pets, as some plants have parts that are poisonous. Some common plants that can be dangerous include amaryllis, aloe vera, sago palm, mistletoe, English ivy, poinsettias and many varieties of lily. Consult the National Poison Center website (poison.org) for a comprehensive list. Erika Branchcomb is the Senior Communications Specialist at the Florida League of Cities. QC Sources: Prevention.com, WebMD, NBCNews.com, Healthline.com

Tips for Beginners If you have never cared for indoor plants and are interested in the benefits, here are some tips to get you started.

▸ Succulents and cacti are low maintenance, easy to grow and thrive indoors. ▸ Cacti are generally hardy plants that can withstand low light, underwatering and other forms of plant neglect and still recover to bloom when cared for properly.

▸ With numerous varieties, succulents are great starter plants that come in all shapes, sizes and textures. You could start your collection with a few Echeveria and Sempervivum.

▸ Overwatering is the most common killer of houseplants. Follow the watering instructions that usually come on the plant identification tag.

Several mobile apps can help identify plants and provide a care routine with sunlight and watering recommendations. Some of the more popular apps available in the Apple and Google Play app stores are Planta, Florish, Blossom and PlantIn.



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