MARATHON, FL – The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners took a couple of steps to move forward on the removal of marine debris from canals throughout the Keys during its monthly meeting at the Marathon Government Center.
The BOCC adopted an ordinance that amends Chapter 11 – Emergency Management and Emergency Service of the Monroe County Code. The amendment provides for disaster-generated debris removal from canals in order to protect public health and safety. The ordinance is retroactive to Sept. 4, 2017.
FEMA funds disaster land debris removal and FEMA requested this ordinance in order to be able to fund marine debris removal in canals.
“This satisfies a request from FEMA that makes it clear the County has legal authority to go into canals and remove marine debris and vessels,” Monroe County Assistant Attorney Cynthia Hall told the Commission. “The County can then delegate its authority to one of its working partners, such as DEP or FWC.”
The County is working with those partners and expects to enter into an Interlocal agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shortly to determine the cleanup responsibilities of each partner. It is expected that DEP will take the lead in the cleanup of the canals.
THE BOCC also approved a resolution authorizing additional temporary emergency marine debris removal staging areas for up to 180 days for the collection, storage and transfer of vessels and marine debris related to Hurricane Irma. There are five potential sites, including the long Key Transfer Station.
“Marine debris removal has been a challenge,” Hall said. “But we are making progress and we all want to begin debris removal from the canals as quickly as possible.”
At the meeting Wednesday at the Marathon Government Center, the BOCC also took these steps.
The BOCC also approved moving forward on joining the national PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program. It allows property owners to voluntarily finance energy efficiency or wind resistance improvements through a non-ad valorem assessment that is repaid through their annual tax bill. Repayment can be spread over the lifetime of the improvement.
The projects – which can include energy-efficient air-conditioning, solar panels and better roofs – help lower utility bills and/or provide potential insurance reductions. This program could also be used by those impacted by Hurricane Irma to upgrade or repair their homes in the categories provided under the program.
Local governments can enter into the program by passing an ordinance, which allows the program to set up consumer protections and the framework of allowable projects.
The County would then enter into agreements with each of the four PACE providers, which sign up local contractors to do the work. These contractors are vetted by the program. Interest rates for the loans are comparable with other financing options, and no upfront, out-of-pocket cash is required to do the improvements.