This year, town officials took the time to order focuses in terms of importance.
During its final meeting before the traditional summer recess, Longboat Key’s Town Commission identified priorities for the next legislative session.
Town Manager Tom Harmer brought 11 items to the commission’s attention to gain input from members.
All 11 focuses function to inform the town’s lobbyist on which bills to track and advocate for statewide and locally. The lobbyist can take a position in advance based on the town’s recommendations.
Harmer said he and Mayor George Spoll will present the town’s priorities to the Sarasota County and Manatee County delegations separately. The presentation for Sarasota County will take place on Sept. 9, and for Manatee County in early October. These presentations are a way of asking the counties to consider Longboat’s interests when voting on bills.
Last year, the priorities were in no particular order. And while the commission didn’t change any of the 11 priorities from the previous year, they rearranged the items in order of importance for the upcoming session.
“We moved a few items to the top of the list in order to more perfectly stress the importance of them,” Spoll said.
Timeliness of items on the list can add to how they’re ordered as well, he added.
The top two priorities are concerned with environmental issues. Number one is to favor legislation that concentrates on issues related to sea level rise. Number two is to back designs to improve water quality with regard to eradicating red tide blooms and enhancing research.
Spoll cited sea level rise and water quality as fundamental to the community.
“Sea rise concerns can wipe out the Key,” he said. “There can be no higher priority than that. Water quality, that has all to do with our red tide issues, that have greatly impacted the business climate and the living climate on the Key.”
Ranked third-most important for Longboat’s forthcoming session is opposing legislation attempting to weaken local governments’ home rule authority.
Spoll said the list acts as broad guidance.
“It’s not something we look at periodically,” Spoll said. “I’ve never seen it come back up on the agenda as a review during the course of the year. It’s a once-a-year thing that we’re all aware of.”