Cocoa Beach / Palm Bay: Making A Difference, One Signature At A Time.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We screwed up.

This post was not supposed to be out in the wild until today. Some of you may have seen it on the blog yesterday. Eghads! We had been shifting posts around, waiting for locations and dates and we forgot to change the date this would hit the blog. Our apologies. Look at it this way, if you read this post yesterday and liked it, think how much nicer it will be reading it a second time.

We noted the other day that Cocoa Beach has started a petition drive to get an issue onto the ballot this fall. Although we haven’t covered it, Palm Bay has a citizen’s group having a petition drive as well to get a different issue on the local ballot in November.

In 2016, Palm Bay voters voted to amend the City Charter to allow the City Council to pass special assessments on real property in the area in order to help with the infrastructure of roads, drainage, sewage, water, etc that affects those specific properties. Prior to the vote, citizens that were going to be affected had a voice in the levying of the special assessments. We believe that most people thought that the rates the Council would impose would be in line with other rates and fees that had been previously passed. Instead, the Council (Councilmen Santiago, Holton and Anderson) voted to increase the special assessment rates by 400%. In a packed meeting with the residents who would be actually paying the fees, the Council basically said “we can do it and so we are going to do it. If you don’t like it, get out.”

People in the area thought that the vote was a betrayal of promises made by all of the Councilmen of limited taxes and fees and that the amendment was nothing more than Trojan horse that stated one purpose of helping people and the city, while in actuality it harmed people extensively.

In light of this, a group formed to have placed on the ballot an amendment that would return the Charter to the pre-2016 language.

(Our opinion here is that while we are not enthusiastic about the return to the previous language, we support the idea of repealing the disastrous amendment that allows the Council to increase assessments far beyond what they should be and far beyond what Council members promised while campaigning. Our opinion is that the rates should be tied to something other than a specific dollar amount which does not allow for inflationary growth over the years, but perhaps something tied to base tax rates as a percentage which would allow for inflation, cost increases, etc. However, that would take a lot of work and research and so the group wants to return to the past until more, better ideas for paying for infrastructure can be worked on and fleshed out. If nothing else, the group’s proposal reigns in the City Council’s power and authority, the power and authority they abused in this case.)

To us, this is not a direct matter of whether you support the ideas the groups have, but rather whether you support community involvement and trying to turn on the deaf ears of the Palm Bay Council and the Cocoa Beach Commission to legitimate issues people have. While the issues from both groups are different, what ties the groups together is the unwillingness and the outright dismissal of the voices of the citizens. No matter whether you agree with these specific issues, we believe you should support the idea of citizen involvement. You can do that by signing the petition. You can vote against the ideas in the election, but for both governing bodies to turn their backs on even discussing what happened needs to be brought forth.

We here are Raised on Hoecakes have decided to support the Palm Bay and Cocoa Beach groups by showing where the signature gatherers will be (weather permitting) so you can stop by and sign.

Next week the group will be at the DMV / Tax Collector’s Office (called the South Mainland Service Complex) at 450 Cogan Drive SE, Monday through Thursday, from 7:30 AM to 11:30 AM.

(click for larger image)

We are still waiting to hear from the Cocoa Beach group as to where they are going to be.

As we are informed of different locations where you can meet and talk with these groups, we will post them. If you’d like to contact them to help with their efforts, drop us an email and we will forward it to them for you. They’ll get in touch with you.

If you are another group that is out the gathering signatures for ballot initiatives, please feel free to contact us and we will post where you are going to be as well.

No matter the issue, we are going to be supportive of citizen involvement.

You should be too.

One Response to “Cocoa Beach / Palm Bay: Making A Difference, One Signature At A Time.”

  1. Tom Broughton says:

    A group of Cocoa Beach citizens is circulating a petition to add Commissioner Williams proposed amendment 3 onto the November ballot. The proposed amendment 3 would allow for building higher than the current 45′ limit only in cases to accommodate changes in Federal, State, Local laws (ie, changes to the FEMA flood zone building requirements).

    We will have a table setup at the Cocoa Beach Public Library from 10am – 1pm TODAY (weather permitting) if you would like to learn more or sign the petition.

    Whether you are for or against the proposal shouldn’t we get it on the ballot and let the residents of the city decide our future.

    Apologies for the late notice.

  2. […] discussed the two citizens groups in Palm Bay and in Cocoa Beach that are gathering signatures to get amendments onto the ballot in November. Whether you agree or […]

  3. […] from 4:00 – 6:30 PM, the Palm Bay group collecting signatures for their ballot initiative will be at the Palm Bay West Little League Baseball Field located at 1161 Lamplighters Dr […]