One of the conditions for the St. Armands Residents Association backing the St. Armands Parking Garage was that the City would work with FPL to bury the power lines from the mainland to St. Armands Key, which is the main approach to the island.
Separately, a few years ago, a resident took the initiative to contact FPL about burying power lines on the island itself. It is our recollection that FPL said that all the people on the same "loop" would have to agree to this and that it would cost about $10,000 per house. And maybe there are 10-20 different "loops" on St. Armands. This would probably cost even more now.
Unfortunately, we don't think the City or FPL has any intention to fund this. Obviously everyone would want this done. But the cost, and the fact that one out of every 3 or 4 houses would have to get a green, metal, pad-mounted transformer box placed in front of them (so we've been told), is a deterrent to individual residents agreeing to pay for this.
For information about FPL's Storm Secure Underground Program, click here.
We asked our members about this in our 2019 and 2020 Annual Member Surveys and here are the results:
Excerpt from a January 26, 2022 email from the Deputy City Attorney to the City's Neighborhood Planner regarding a neighborhood wanting to create a self-taxing district: [explanatory comments added in BLUE]
The first question that must be addressed is whether the neighborhood wants a district which will levy ad valorem taxes [tax based on property valuation] (e.g. Downtown Improvement District, St. Armands Special Neighborhood Improvement District [a.k.a. the "BID"]; and Golden Gate Special District) or a district which will levy a non ad valorem special assessment [a fixed amount per property; not tied to property valuation] (e.g. Glen Oaks and St. Armands Parking District). I must know the answer to this question before I can tell you the procedure to create the district.
The bottom line is that the City Commission makes the decision as to whether the district will or will not be created. In some cases, that decision is made by ordinance. In some cases, that decision is made by resolutions. I need to know the funding source (i.e. ad valorem taxes or non ad valorem special assessments) before I can tell you whether it will be by ordinance or resolutions. In either event, the City Commission will not likely agree to create the district unless there appears to be very strong support from the impacted property owners.
The neighborhood association can use whatever process it would like which will be able to convince the City Commission that there is strong support among the property owners to see their tax bill increase in exchange for the new light fixtures.
There is also another funding issue to consider. The special taxing district will pay for the project over a course of time, likely 20 years. But, FPL will need to be paid in advance. Where will the upfront money come from to pay for the project?
To further complicate this response, there is one [additional] option by which the decision to create the district would be based upon a referendum vote of the affected property owners [instead of by City Commission approval]. This district is only an option if the levy will be of an ad valorem tax. This district will also require appointment of a Board of Directors who are residents of the district subject to the new tax. In other words, with this option, the City Commission cannot serve as the Board of Directors of the special district. At least three of the neighbors would have to be willing to serve as a director for the entire life of the district (likely 10 years). In order to use this district, the cost of the project would need to be paid back in 10 years. As such, the annual tax may be rather high.