Editor: It’s a pity more residents of Belleair didn’t witness the dog and pony show staged by Mayor Mariani at the Town Meeting on Feb. 15. The mayor made fools of his friends by asking them to come out and campaign to put the power issue before the residents on a referendum. What cave have these people been living in? The rest of the community has been pushing for this for years.
This group, with their fancy signs and staged rhetoric, has not been among the regular attendees of recent town meetings. Of even greater significance is the fact that the commission canceled the referendum for the scheduled March 8 vote. This is because, after having the most recent feasibility study for a year, they are still unprepared to present us with a defendable position on municipalizing.
At the workshop session on Feb. 1, Mariani made a fanfare of sending word that he wanted to make a motion to go back to the negotiating table with Progress Energy on four issues. Instead of supporting his motion, his fellow commissioners decided 3 to 1 to vote on the current license agreement at the regular session scheduled for Feb. 15.
For the benefit of the Johnny-come-latelies, you should know there have been two feasibility studies. The last, the March 2004 report, assumed a 16 percent franchise fee/utility fee, 6 percent more than we are currently paying and a growth rate of 80 percent. Even with this increase in our rates and this unrealistic growth projection, the study concluded it would be a risky endeavor. They should also know that the mayor has waffled on the referendum numerous times and vacillates between whether it is binding or nonbinding.
If Winter Park, a town of 15,000 residents, got only two bids in response to their Request for Proposals and Orlando Electric, their neighbor and one of the states largest municipal groups didn’t bid at all, how many bids can we realistically expect? Furthermore, how many companies will be willing to bid in a town of only 2,400 electric meters on a contract that is not even sure to be issued?
The town leaders have continually ignored the wishes of the majority. They even ignored its own town survey which showed 82 percent of the residents were in favor of continuing with Progress Energy. It’s worth noting this survey generated a 49 percent response rate – an extremely high number for any survey.
One has to wonder why the town would push for municipalization of our electric power service when its own consultants told them it would be precarious.