Thank you to Monique Miller for providing this action plan and summary. Please attend and write the Brevard County Commissioners.
10/21/2014 at 9:00 a.m.
Government Center Commission Room, Building C 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Viera, Florida
Robin Fisher D1.Commissioner@brevardcounty.us
Ph: (321) 264-6750
Chuck Nelson D2.Commissioner@brevardcounty.us Ph: (321) 454-6601
Trudie Infantini D3.Commissioner@brevardcounty.us Ph: (321) 952-6300
MaryBolin Lewis D4.Commissioner@brevardcounty.us Ph: (321) 633-2044
Andy Anderson D5.Commissioner@brevardcounty.us Ph: (321) 253-6611
The attached resolution http://issuu.com/floridanotallaboard/docs/resolution_-_bocc_-_brevard_meeting/0
involving All Aboard Florida (AAF) will come before the Brevard Board of County Commissioners for a vote on Tuesday, October 21.
We have three concerns about the resolution that could prove detrimental to the future safety and well-being of Brevard residents:
1. The issuance of Private Activity Bonds (PABs) and revision of associated terms or limits should be separate and distinct from negotiations over the responsibility for costs borne from AAF’s project. Please consider having the proposed resolution amended as follows:
a. Remove any references to the grade crossing maintenance.
b. Remove the language that adds AAF as a third-party beneficiary to Brevard’s crossing agreements with FEC.
2. Because the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) has just been released, it is premature for Brevard County to accept or offer any concessions to/from AAF, since it is impossible to fully quantify the financial impact to Brevard of all issues raised in the EIS. These negotiations should be postponed until after the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) public comment period for the EIS has ended and the FRA’s assessment is complete.
3. AAF wants Brevard County to add AAF as a third-party beneficiary to the grade crossing agreements between Brevard County and Florida East Coast Railways (FEC). This is the most valuable bargaining chip Brevard County has in its negotiations over costs with AAF. Until Brevard knows all costs that will be incurred as a result of AAF’s project, it would be irresponsible to concede this critical point of leverage.
Whether you are for or against AAF’s project is irrelevant to the October 21 vote. We are here to remind the County Commissioners that their number one priority is to act in the best interest of Brevard’s residents. Voting in favor of the resolution, in its current form, is not in Brevard’s best interest for the reasons cited above. Additionally, it is important that the BOCC have an idea of the costs that could be inflicted upon Brevard citizens if the BOCC does not negotiate wisely and have AAF assume them.
1. The PABs represent a taxpayer subsidy of about $500 Million. There is a reason why counties were limited to $7.5 Million. It is doubtful that the BOCC even has the authority to unilaterally raise the limit by 35 times the current amount. This vote could open the county up to legal challenges, which leaves Brevard residents to pay any legal expenses incurred by the county.
2. The grade crossing infrastructure will need to be upgraded to accommodate the high-speed rail infrastructure and the added tracks to be installed by AAF/FEC. We do not have anything in writing from AAF or FEC promising to incur the cost of these upgrades. All discussions to date have been for gate closures that do not meet the recommended safety standards. Before any concessions are given by Brevard County, it must be clear who will pay this multi-million dollar expense.
3. Quiet zones create two costs for Brevard County:
a. First, it will cost money to apply for them and implement them. The State of Florida had allocated $10 Million for some of the quiet zone costs. $9 million of that has already been allocated to southern counties. It is important that Brevard know exactly how much this will cost to implement and who will incur that cost.
b. Second, there is likely an increase in Brevard’s ongoing insurance costs. if Brevard applies for quiet zones, it is our understanding that liability for incidents on the track shifts from AAF to Brevard. We do not know how much this will cost, but it will be perpetual.
4. Safety personnel and equipment upgrades will be necessary as a result of introducing high-speed rail to our community.
5. Without knowing the cost to Brevard County of the impacts outlined in the EIS – both in terms of dollars and the projected deaths of Brevard visitors/residents.
Even if you want AAF to go through Brevard County, it is incumbent upon each of you to make sure to minimize the financial and safety impacts the project has on Brevard’s citizens. Please do not give away the most significant point of leverage that Brevard has in its negotiations with AAF: the need for AAF to be added as a third-party beneficiary to Brevard’s crossing agreements with AAF.