Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Water Restrictions Eased In Lauderhill

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) has eased water restrictions in most parts of Broward County, effective April 18. The new restrictions lift the lawn watering restrictions from once a week to twice a week.

Under the new restrictions, lawn watering will be permitted on Wednesdays and Saturdays for houses with ODD numbered addresses and on Thursdays and Sundays for houses with EVEN numbered addresses. Watering will be permitted between midnight and 10 a.m., or between 4 p.m. and midnight.

A modified Phase III water shortage declaration for all users within areas serviced by Hallandale Beach and Dania Beach water utilities remains in effect. Customers of these utilities, including homes, businesses and government facilities will remain on once-a-week lawn watering restrictions.

The restrictions were eased by the SFWMD following two months of above normal rainfall. Water levels in Lake Okeechobee, a back-up source for east coast well field protection, were at 10.53 feet on April 11, about four feet below the historical average for this time of year.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Calculation of the TRIM Rolled-Back Rate As Explained by the State

Recently the City of Lauderhill received the following e-mail to help all of us understand how to calculate the TRIM Rolled-Back Rate that is used to determine how to deterimine increases/decreases in your tax rate. This is that e-mail:

"We have received several questions concerning the calculation of the TRIM rolled-back rate in light of the millage levy limitation statutes passed last year. The rolled-back rate for Truth in Millage (TRIM) is different than the maximum millage rate under the new statutes.

The maximum millage rate that can be levied by a majority vote is calculated pursuant to s. 200.185(5), F.S. As stated in paragraph (a), the maximum millage rate is the TRIM rolled-back rate determined pursuant to s. 200.065, F.S., adjusted by the growth in per-capita Florida personal income. The growth rate in per-capita Florida personal income to be used for 2008 is 4.15%. Therefore, the maximum millage rate that your taxing authority can levy by majority vote is 4.15% higher than the TRIM rolled-back rate.

Please note that the adjustment for growth in per-capita Florida personal income is only for purposes of determining the maximum millage levy. The adjustment does not impact the calculation of the rolled-back rate for TRIM purposes. The TRIM rolled-back rate is the relevant millage rate to use for purposes of the Notice of Proposed Taxes and for determining the form of the newspaper advertisement for your final hearing.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please email our TRIM section at " (emphasis was as sent in the e-mail).

I hope that all of you now understand the explanation. If not, they provide a way to ask questions.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Federal Bills Moves Through Congress

Housing Bills

The House Committee on Financial Services considered a number of bills this week aimed at stabilizing the housing market. The Committee passed two bills, H.R. 5818, the Neighborhood Stabilization Act of 2008, and H.R. 5579, the Emergency Mortgage Loan Modification Act of 2008. A third bill, H.R. 5830, the FHA Housing Stabilization and Homeowner Retention Act of 2008, is still being considered.

Several new statistics pointing to continued trouble in the housing market informed the Committee's debate this week: (1) according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, 900,000 households were in the foreclosure process during the fourth quarter of 2007, the highest number ever recorded and up 71 percent over 2006; (2) the Federal Reserve announced that 8.8 million homeowners will have zero or negative equity by the end of March 2008, representing about 10 percent of all homeowners; and (3) the State Foreclosure Prevention Working Group, a coalition of state attorneys general and state banking regulators, reported that 7 out of 10 delinquent mortgage borrowers have been unable to work out foreclosure prevention plans with their lenders.

1. H.R. 5818, Neighborhood Stabilization Act of 2008

The Neighborhood Stabilization Act, introduced by Housing Subcommittee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), passed the Committee by a vote of 38 to 26.

The bill would establish a $15 billion, federally-administered loan and grant program for the purchase and rehabilitation of owner-vacated, foreclosure homes with the goal of stabilizing and occupying then as soon as possible. Half of the funds will be for loans and the other half would be for grants.

The funding would be distributed to the states based on a formula driven by a state's percentage of nationwide foreclosures over the last four calendar quarters, adjusted to account for the state's relative median home price. States could allocate funds to government entities and nonprofits for the purchase, rehabilitation, and resale of homeownership housing and the purchase, rehabilitation, and operation of rental housing.

In addition, states would be required to direct a formula-determined amount of funding to cities that are either, (a) one of the 25 most populous in the nation or (b) has a population of greater than 50,000 and a foreclosure rate that exceeds 125 percent of the foreclosure rate for the entire state.

Finally, at least 50 percent of the grant funding would be targeted to families at or below 50 percent of the area median income (AMI), and not less than half of the funding would target families at or below 30 percent of AMI. The bill also would explicitly prohibit discrimination against Section 8 voucher holders and provide eviction protections for tenants in foreclosed properties.

2. H.R. 5579, Emergency Mortgage Loan Modification Act of 2008
The Emergency Mortgage Loan Modification Act of 2008, introduced by Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) and Capital Markets Subcommittee Chairman Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), passed the Committee by a voice-vote.

This bill provides a legal safe harbor for mortgage loan servicers making certain loan modifications. Mortgage loan servicers are responsible for collecting mortgage payments from homeowners on behalf of investors after a bank or other mortgage originator sells their loans to investors in the form of mortgage-backed securities. The bill responds to concerns that mortgage loan servicers are being discouraged from modifying loan terms to prevent foreclosures by the fear of potential lawsuits from investors that stand to lose some profit on the loan modification.

3. H.R. 5830, FHA Housing Stabilization and Homeowner Retention Act of 2008

The Committee began debate on the FHA Housing Stabilization and Homeowner Retention Act yesterday and is expected to vote on the measure next week. The bill, introduced by Chairman Frank, would permit the Federal Housing Administration to provide up to $300 billion in new loan guarantees to help refinance borrowers at risk of foreclosure into lower-interest, fixed-rate federally insured mortgages.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) has announced his intentions to hold a markup on similar legislation in early May.

Senate Holds Hearing on Drug Waste in Water Supply

On April 15, the Senate Environment and Public Works, Subcommittee on Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security and Water Quality held a hearing in which Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) blasted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to identify and address the presence of pharmaceuticals in the nation's water supply as demanded by Congress 12 years ago. In 1996, through the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Food Quality Protection Act, Congress directed the EPA to develop a program dealing with chemicals that harm the natural balance of hormones in the body. The hearing was held in response to an investigation by the Associated Press that found a vast array of pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones, present in the drinking water supplies 24 major metropolitan areas, covering at least 41 million people in the United States.

Senate Holds Hearing on Water Infrastructure

On April 17, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Water and Power held a hearing to examine the age and condition of water infrastructure operated, maintained or owned by the Bureau of Reclamation. As part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Reclamation helps the Western states, Native American Tribes and others meet new water needs and balance the multitude of competing uses of water in the West.

During the hearing, Reclamation Commissioner Robert Johnson said the agency estimated it would cost $3 billion over 20 years to conduct the necessary major repairs.

Current Bureau of Reclamation regulations require any federal money borrowed for operation and maintenance to be paid back within the same year. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) called the lack of flexible financing "prohibitive" for communities, noting that even major repairs are often deemed as operation and maintenance costs. Tester called on the federal government to finance Reclamation's facilities, asserting that in the few projects whose costs exceed the means of local beneficiaries, the agency should still pay. Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), however, said that local communities should assume more, but not all, of the financial responsibility.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Notes of Commission Workshop of 4/21

On April 21, the Commission met for the monthly Regular Workshop. Only two items were on the agenda. First was a review of the Audit results showing Lauderhill improving in its financial conditions from last year. Of the financial trends, Lauderhill has significantly improved in several categories, which now shows the city as Favorable in 12 categories, Inconclusive in 5, and Unfavorable in 1. However, it is expected that future financial conditions will be flat due to revenue restrictions being imposed by the legislature and voters.

The other item was a rousing discussion, particularly from residents, concerning difficulties using facilities at the new Central Broward County Regional Park. Speaker after speaker spoke on how the park was too expensive for use, and that they will instead either use other facilities in the area, or will not conduct their event at all. One speaker stated that the cost of the facility for their large event exceeds Lockhart Stadium and even Dolphin Stadium. It is cost prohibited for many events, including soccer, football, cricket, and special events. The same events the county had targeted for use at the park.

This sentiment has been expressed to the city repeatedly by numerous users of the park. Several have stated they will use the park for one event, because it is already planned, but not in the future if matters do not change. Many of these sports are under development, and cannot afford the fees being charged. Others have said it is too difficult to even work with the county, and it isn't worth trying to deal with them.

The concern by the Commission is that the facility is intended to be an economic engine for the region, and that users of the park should not be charged more for its use than at other county parks. In those events that are struggling to establish themselves, they cannot be charged fees that immediately create a loss for the event. That somehow it is believed that the county does not treat users of the park the same as they do at other county facilities. Additionally, there is demonstrated bias against cities in the region in using the park, which does not exist at other county parks. Finally, that if the county continues to conduct their business there in the manner that it has, that the park will become a 'White Elephant,' and that it will appear that the county has wasted the over $70 million of taxpayers money to build it.

The Commission consensus was to draft a Resolution for the April 28 Commission Meeting, addressing some of these concerns, and to request a public meeting in Lauderhill to discuss them, preferably to be televised, with the County Mayor, and the two County Commissioners representing Lauderhill, plus their staff. The Resolution will include inviting all cities of Broward County to come and express themselves as well on this topic since this is a County Park, and the issues discussed could impact them as well.

Curiously, a person was at the Workshop very carefully videotaping the discussion, including obtaining close ups of particular individuals when they spoke, including specifically, Commissioner Holness. At one point he was asked to move from where he was taping, at Commission's request, because he was blocking the general public from observing the meeting, and creating a disturbance. When asked by others there why he was taping it, it was reported that he said he was taping it for certain individuals to see, including the District 9 County Commissioner.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lauderhill Arbor Day Celebration and Free Tree Giveaway

The City of Lauderhill’s Arbor Day Celebration will be on Friday, April 25th, 2008, at the Ilene Lieberman Botanical Garden Park.

The Annual Arbor Day Celebration will include a Free Tree Give-A-Way which will begin at 10 am & conclude at 3 pm. The Ilene Leiberman Botanical Garden Park is located at 3831 Inverrary Boulevard.

The Tree Give-A-Way will be open to LAUDERHILL RESIDENTS ONLY and will be given on a FIRST COME FIRST SERVE BASIS. Trees are limited. Please bring a photo ID to receive your (2) FREE trees. Lauderhill Association representatives are eligible for (5) FREE trees per association.

The types of trees available are Cypress, Orange, Mango, & Lime. Remember: The trees are first come, first serve….. come out early so you don’t miss out!!!

For more information, call 954/ 730-3000.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Philip Michael Curtis Caribbean Jazz Evolution Exhibit and Celebration of the Arts Program


To all Residents and Businesses

The City of Lauderhill
Arts, Culture and Tourism (A.C.T.) Board

cordially invites you to a


featuring art , music, drama and dance of the super-talented students of
Parkway Middle School for the Performing Arts

Friday, April 25, 7: 00PM
3600 NW Fifth Court

Admission is free

Friday, April 18, 2008

Notes of the Commission Meeting and CRA Meeting of 4/14

On April 14, the Commission met for its Regular Commission Meeting and as the CRA. The following are notes of interests from those meetings:


1. RESEARCH SUMMARY ON VIDEO SURVEILLANCE SYSTEMS - Research shows that it has some effectiveness for property crimes, but not so for violent crimes since they are usually of passion and not planned. It is also more effective as part of a planned project, rather than retrofitting it to an existing development. The Commission supported further investigation, and to look into implementing it as part of planned project, such as along State Road 7, and instituting that private developments, as part of their construction, should likewise implement. Discussion was also on instituting a Code Blue system, which would be more effective for violent crimes.

2. SISTER CITIES PROGRAM - Update information on our sister cities. We are looking at expanding our cultural exchanges, as we have been done with Suzana, Brazil. Also, we will be putting on our web site information about our sister cities.

3. BROWARD PAVILION AT ULI CONFERENCE - Oct. 27-30, 2008 in Miami. We have reserved our space at the event, for which the cost is being partly paid by sponsors who will participate with us. In conjunction with the Broward Alliance, we are working to create a Broward Pavilion.


A. CULTURE BUILDS FLORIDA GRANT - Application is proceeding
B. BROWARD CULTURAL PLANNING GRANT - Application is proceeding with other partners
C. TREE GARDENS AND RENAISSANCE PLAZA PARKS - Agreement is being worked out to lease the property in front of Tree Gardens Condominium to extend Renaissance Park.
D. JOHN MULLIN PARK - A RFP is due by April 30, to see how we can develop the non park premises for residential.





1. ORDINANCE NO 08O-02-105: Approved an Ordinance to allow as a permitted use, subject to special regulations, a large family day care home in the Residential single-family at four (RS-4) and five (RS-5) zoning district, grandfathering in 4 such facilities within Lauderhill.


3. Ordinance No. 08o-04-115: Approved an Ordinance to allow an applicant to be charged a reasonable fee to recover the costs associated with preparing and mailing written public hearing notices.







7. Resolution No. 08-04- 105: Approved a resolution opposing the State Legislature from using State Transportation Trust Funds for non-transportation purposes, whereby they intend to use them to balance the State Budget. (Requested by Mayor Richard J. Kaplan)

8. Resolution No. 08-04-103 : Approved a resolution approving the installation of Speed Humps in the Broward Estates area, as requested in Petitions submitted by the neighborhood residents.



9. RESOLUTION NO. 08R-04-102: APPROVED A RESOLUTION APPROVING THE AWARD OF BID (#P2008-007) TO BERG DEMOLITION, INC. IN THE AMOUNT OF $36,850.00 FOR THE DEMOLITION OF THE OLD WATER TANK LOCATED AT 3801 N.W. 4TH COURT. This demolition is required to transform a parcel of land in the Broward Estates area, which was recently purchased, into a park.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Federal Update

Housing Relief Measures Advance in Washington

While there continues to be general agreement between the White House and Congress that more needs to be done to help struggling homeowners, proposals under consideration include different fixes for getting there.

On April 10, the Senate completed work and sent to the House a foreclosure assistance bill that includes $4 billion in new CDBG funding to state and local governments for the purchase and rehabilitation of foreclosed properties and $150 million in counseling assistance. The bill also includes approximately $11 billion in tax breaks, including a $7,000 tax credit for buyers of foreclosed properties. The bill also would allow state and local governments to sell an additional $10 billion in tax-exempt mortgage bonds to refinance subprime loans.

Another provision in the bill would give homeowners -- who do not itemize their federal tax returns -- a new above-the-line deduction of up to $1,000 to offset their property taxes but would deny the new deduction to any resident of a locality that raises its property tax rate between April 2, 2008, and January 1, 2009. Cities generally opposes this provision because it interferes with state and local governments' ability to manage their revenue streams and has the effect of an unfunded mandate.

On April 9, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a tax package, H.R. 5720, the Housing Assistance Tax Act, that contains measures designed to stabilize the housing market. Like the Senate bill, this bill also includes a tax deduction for homeowners who do not itemize to offset their property taxes (of up to $700). Unlike the Senate bill, the availability of the deduction is not tied to changes in local tax rates. This bill provides a refundable tax credit of up to 10 percent of the purchase price of the home, up to $7,500, for first-time homebuyers. Equivalent to an interest-free loan, the homebuyer would be required to repay the loan over a 15-year period. Finally, like the Senate bill, this bill would allow state and local governments to sell an additional $10 billion in tax-exempt mortgage bonds to refinance subprime loans.

The House Financial Services Committee is developing additional housing-relief legislation that will be marked up April 23 and 24. House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) has circulated a draft of the legislation, the FHA Housing Stabilization and Housing Retention Act of 2008, and it includes a combination of loans and grants to states for the purpose of purchasing and rehabilitating vacant and abandoned homes.

On April 10, the White House announced another plan to help homeowners. Under the new plan, lenders will be encouraged, but not required, to write down the outstanding principal of loans in order to obtain FHA insurance on refinanced mortgages. The White House estimates that this plan could help an additional 500,000 homeowners at risk of foreclosure.

No Vote Scheduled Yet for Collective Bargaining Legislation

Lobbying for and against the mandatory collective bargaining bill, S. 2123 continues, which has yet to be scheduled for a vote in the Senate. Supporters of the legislation need 60 votes to advance it; opponents need 41 to defeat it. The unofficial count shows that both sides are within one or two votes of holding their position. Cities are seeking a commitment from the White House that the President will veto the bill if it reaches his desk; so far, the President has not indicated his position on the bill. (Note: eLauderhill News believes Lauderhill already complies with this requirement if passed)

Three-percent Withholding Requirement Delay Under Consideration

Cities continues to lobby in support of efforts to repeal or delay implementation of an unfunded mandate that requires federal, state, and local governments, who spend more than $100 million on goods and services, to withhold three percent of all payments to contractors and vendors and to remit those monies to the Internal Revenue Service.

On April 9, the House Ways and Means Committee passed legislation (H.R. 5719) that included a provision to delay implementation of this requirement by one year from 2011 to 2012.

Cell Phone Recordkeeping Rule on the Way Out

According to a little known IRS rule, state and local governments, must maintain records of personal calls made on employer-provided cell phones or Blackberry-type devices to verify business use. The IRS rules on this matter were set in 1989 (when cell phones were not too popular and calls were charged per minute) and have not changed to adjust to the explosion of use or different pricing models.

Recently, the IRS began auditing state and local governments and penalizing them for not keeping detailed logs of personal calls for each cell phone. State and local governments have complained that the rules are cumbersome and costly, and that it is nearly impossible to determine the costs of personal calls made on employer-provider phones.

On April 9, the House Ways and Means Committee passed legislation (H.R. 5719) that would eliminate this requirement. A Senate measure is pending (S. 2668).

Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Bill Not Intended to Harm Cities

As drafted, H.R. 3359, The Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Fairness and Simplification Act, would prohibit state and local governments from taxing the income of non-resident workers who perform duties within their boundaries for 60 days or less. The goal of the legislation is to simplify the administrative burden on employers who are faced with increased responsibility for withholding income taxes for workers who earn income in multiple states.

Over the last several weeks, a coalition that includes the Ohio Municipal League, and the Michigan Municipal League, has collected and shared with the bill sponsor (Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA)) data regarding the significant negative impact this legislation would have on state and local government revenues.

In a meeting on April 9 with coalition members, Rep. Johnson indicated, among other things, that he did not intend for the bill's provisions to apply to local governments and expressed a willingness to revise the bill language to reflect his intent as the bill moves forward. (Note: Florida has no individual state or local income tax, so it would not apply in Florida)

Fire Protection Standards Survey and Taskforce Bill Introduced

Earlier this week, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduced HR 5686, the Firefighter Fatality Reduction Act of 2008. If enacted, the legislation would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct a survey of each career, volunteer, or combination fire department located in the United States to determine whether the department is in compliance with voluntary consensus standards. In addition to the survey, the legislation requires DHS to establish a task force for the purpose of "developing a plan to enhance firefighter safety by increasing compliance with national consensus standards for safe operations, staffing, training, and fitness."

On April 9, meeting with Perlmutter's staff to raise concerns about the potential for the bill to lead to a back door national standard setting process that amounts to a one-size fits all unfunded mandate for local governments. A schedule for considering the bill has not been determined.

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Clean Water Restoration Act

On April 9, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on the Clean Water Restoration Act (S. 1870), which is sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI). The bill would amend the Clean Water Act, by changing the term "navigable waters of the U.S." to "waters of the U.S." The bill is a response to two U.S. Supreme Court cases, in 2001 and 2006, which put an end to the practice of broadly interpreting the Clean Water Act and called into question federal authority and jurisdiction over certain waters, including wetlands. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on companion bill, H.R. 2421 sponsored by Rep. James Oberstar (D-MI) on April 16.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Summer Literacy Camp

Students, 6 - 12 years old can enroll for a Summer Literacy Camp for those that need summer academic review. The 8 week camp runs from June 16 through August 8, Monday - Friday, from 8 AM to 5:30 PM, at St. George Community Park, 3501 NW 8th Street. Early drop off at 7:30 AM and late pick up at 6 PM is also available. In addition to academic activities there will also be recreational activities.

The cost is a one time $10 registration fee, and space is limited. Registration has already begun, and to enroll a birth certificate must be provided if the child is not currently enrolled in the after school program. There is also a teachers recommendation and other requirements. For more information contact 954-791-1039.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Federal Help on Foreclosures

The US Senate has been working on a second stimulus package -- S. 2636 -- The Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 -- to assist in the foreclosure crisis. Part of the package includes $4 billion in CDBG to states and cities to purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed properties.

The CDBG funds would be targeted to those States and cities with the highest foreclosure rates. The funds must be spent within 18 months of allocation. The funding would not be allocated through the regular CDBG formula. HUD is charged with developing a needs-based formula within 60 days of passage of the measure that takes into account the following: (1) number and percentage of home foreclosures in each State or unit of general local government; (2) number and percentage of homes financed by a sub-prime mortgage in each State or unit of general local government; and (3) number and percentage of homes in default or delinquency in each State or unit of general local government. The legislation provides HUD with the authority to grant broad waivers of CDBG program requirements (except for fair housing, nondiscrimination, labor standards, and the environment) in order to expedite the use of the funds. Grantees can assist persons at up to 120 percent of area median income.

The bill includes $200,000 in housing counseling assistance to the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation for foreclosure mitigation. The bill also includes a provision to raise the cap on mortgage revenue bonds by $10 billion so housing finance agencies could refinance troubled home loans. The bill also includes some reform language of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Separate FHA Reform legislation has been stalled in Congress due to House-Senate disagreement over loan limits and downpayment assistance requirements. S. 2636 includes compromise language that would raise the FHA loan limits from $362,000 to $550,000. The bill also includes language that requires a 3.5 percent downpayment on FHA loans.

Senator Reid (D-NV) tried to move the bill forward in late February, but lacked enough votes for passage due to a controversial bankruptcy provision that would have allowed bankruptcy judges to restructure risky home mortgages. This provision has been dropped from the bill. The bankruptcy provision is likely to be offered as an amendment by Senator Durbin (D-IL), but is not expected to pass

To garner more Republican support, the measure includes tax breaks to money-losing homebuilders. The Senate plans to move the bill by attaching it as an amendment to H.R. 3221 (a House-passed tax measure). Debate on the measure will begin today and may last through next week.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Crime Statistics Software Captures Burglar

Recently, the City of Lauderhill installed new Crime Statistics Software and created a new Crime Suppression Team to utilize this information. Based upon the software, the Team was able to foil a robbery.

The software directed the city to place the Team in an area which it suspected a burglary was possible. In fact, a residential burglary was occurring on 14 Street where the software directed the Team. The burglar was caught running out of the home by K-9. All property was recovered.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Villa's Apartment Declared Unsafe and Residents Must Move Immediately

The Villa's apartment complex located at 2360 NW 56th Avenue has been deemed an unsafe by the building and fire departments. Due to these safety concerns all residents at the Complex must be evacuated from the remaining apartments. There are approximately 111 of the 450 units that are occupied and residents will have 72 hours to move from the complex.

The City of Lauderhill has notified Broward County and we are directing residents to attend a meeting with (Monday, April 7) at 6pm at the Windemere Recreation Center located 1818 NW 54 Terrace, where county staff will be available to assist as much as they can. The City of Lauderhill has no remaining resources to provide assistance due to budget constraints.

In addition, the management company for the apartment complex may have additional units at another complex to house the displaced residents. We have been advised that the residents will receive any rent paid in April as a refund over the next 3 days. The property is presently in receivership and a foreclosure is pending.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Federal Update

Municipal Leaders Urge Congress to Fund Energy Block Grant Program

More than 400 municipal leaders signed onto a letter urging Congress to fund the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program that was enacted as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

According to the letter, "The nation's energy crisis continues to challenge our country with the threat of climate change, rising energy prices, and the depletion of natural resources. The Block Grant program provides an important element in a new partnership among cities, states, and the federal government to respond to these challenges making our country more energy efficient and energy independent, and strengthening our economy."

Next week, the letter will be delivered to House and Senate Appropriations Committee members, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
House and Senate Adopt Budget Resolutions

The House and Senate each adopted their respective budget resolutions this week, non-binding blueprints for the FY'09 federal budget. The House would provide $22 billion more in domestic discretionary spending than the President, rejecting most of the President's proposed cuts-especially for public safety, while the Senate proposes restoration of $18 billion. The passage of the budget resolutions clears the way for the annual appropriations process to move forward.

Frank Holds Hearing on Municipal Bond Market Turmoil

On March 12, at a House Committee on Financial Services meeting, federal lawmakers and market participants debated options for resolving the current turmoil in the municipal securities market. During the hearing, Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA), blasted the municipal bond insurers for acting on "grievous misjudgments" by exposing themselves to subprime mortgage risk that has led to "unfair excessive costs" for issuers, including local governments. Testifying at the hearing were state treasurers, municipal bond insurers, the Connecticut Attorney General, and ratings agency representatives.

Although the Committee did not reach consensus on any of the options debated, there was agreement that something must be done quickly. "This has got to be fixed," Frank said. "We cannot tolerate a situation where elected officials trying to build schools and comply with federal mandates from the federal government to improve the treatment of sewage and build highways.are charged much more than they should be charged."

Frank and Dodd Announce Proposals to Stem the Rise in Foreclosures

On March 13, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) unveiled proposals to stem the significant rise in mortgage foreclosures by allowing the Federal Housing Administration to insure and guarantee refinanced mortgages that have been significantly written down by mortgage holders and lenders. According to a summary, Frank's proposal would provide up to $300 billion in new loan guarantees for "at risk" borrowers to refinance. Lenders would be required to write down a loan's principal amount - to no more than a home's current market price - before the FHA would back the revised loan; additionally, the new loan would have to be made on terms that a borrower could repay. Frank estimates that his proposal could potentially refinance between one to two million loans, protect neighborhoods, and help stabilize the housing market.

National Infrastructure Bank Proposals Gain Momentum

After years of discussion about a national infrastructure bank that could issue taxable tax-credit bonds to fund infrastructure projects, House and Senate leaders are vowing to move quickly on legislation that would create a national infrastructure bank to develop public-private investments for large transportation and water projects.

Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) introduced S.1926, the National Infrastructure Bank Act of 2007, last summer and on March 11 held a hearing on the bill before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, which Dodd chairs. According to Sen. Dodd, the bill would use "limited Federal resources, it would leverage the significant resources and innovation of the private sector. It would tap the private sector's financial and intellectual power to meet our nation's largest and most critical structural needs." On March 12, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced she also wants the House to take up infrastructure development legislation quickly.

NAPA Releases Transportation Finance Report

Earlier this week, the Intergovernmental Forum on Transportation Finance, a body convened by the National Academy of Public Administration on behalf of six national associations: National League of Cities, National Governors Association, National Association of Counties, National Conference of State Legislatures, The Council of State Governments, and International City/County Managers Association, released a report, "Financing Transportation in the 21st Century - An Intergovernmental Perspective."

The report highlights the integrated role of all levels of government and the private sector in developing and maintaining our national transportation network. According to the report, "All levels of government must work together to set system-performance goals and provide the financial means to meet those goals."

FAA Reauthorization Stalled

Senate leaders remain skeptical that the Senate will be able to reconcile internal differences and pass an airport reauthorization bill before the end of this year, despite the fact that the federal airport programs expired in September 2007 and are running on short term extensions. The House passed a reauthorization bill last year, but the Senate remains mired in the controversy between industries over who should bear the greater cost for modernizing the air traffic control system.

Immigration Proposals Being Discussed

House Members are threatening to use a procedural motion to bring an immigration enforcement-oriented bill to the House floor. The bill, the Secure America with Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act, HR 4088, sponsored by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC), has gained the support of 93 Republicans and 48 Democrats. The legislation would authorize more technology at the border, the hiring of 8,000 additional border agents over five years, and a mandatory verification system for employers.

In addition, House leaders are considering legislation to issue more visas for summer workers, an issue that cuts across ideological lines. The H2B visas give foreign workers non-immigrant status to work seasonable jobs that can't be filled by Americans. In 1990, Congress capped the visas at 66,000 annually, but the demand routinely exceeds that number. In fiscal year 2006, Congress allowed an additional 50,000 workers to be admitted.

These proposals put Congress back into the middle of the immigration debate in an election year, and the outcome is unclear.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Hazardous Waste Drop-off Event

On April 6th, at the Lauderdale Lakes Municipal Complex, 4330 N.W. 36st Ave., Broward County residents are encouraged to take advantage of a free hazardous waste and electronics drop-off.

Proof of Broward County residency is required. Residents can dispose of household hazardous waste including paint, solvents, motor oil, pesticides, household chemicals, lawn and pool chemicals, mercury thermometers, propane tanks and fire extinguishers. Acceptable used electronics include televisions, computers, monitors, keyboards, printers, fax machines, cell phones and rechargeable batteries.