Cutler Bay Mayor Peggy Bell and town manager Ralph Casals traveled Tuesday to Tallahassee to speak with legislators and committee members for support on local projects and for support on banning texting while driving, among other causes. The trek to the state capital headlined a busy week for the first-year mayor.
“It is important to be in Tallahassee while members are in committees, discussing items to be voted on,” Bell said. “Bills can die in committee. We have our council approved legislative agenda items to address with state legislators.”
Said Casals: “The meetings went really well. We were able to talk to several state legislators, as well as the state staff regarding our legislative agenda. It was running from meeting to meeting and making sure we had our voices heard for all of the residents of Cutler Bay, particularly with the goals that were set out in our agenda. All the legislators that we met up there were not only local … but posted in key committees that will be influential in funding our projects and or our legislative agenda.”
Last year, the town obtained $400,000 for a drainage improvement project in front of Centennial High School after speaking with state legislators. Bell said she is hoping for the same success this year.
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“It’s most effective to go early, to be able to meet with them before decisions are made on funding and laws,” Bell said. “I have appointments with legislators who are instrumental in making decisions on the funding and legislation that is important to Cutler Bay.”
The town will know if the grants are approved by direct appropriation on July 1, when the governor signs the state budget, but may learn of other successful grants throughout the year. The town will file requests for the Cutler Bay Town Hall/EOC hardening project, the US-1 corridor economic development plan, a town center district small business incubator, a Cutler Bay wetlands observation pavilion, a canoe/kayak launch and parking facilities, canal bank erosion protection, and stormwater/pollutant elimination projects at Saga Bay and Point Royale.
On Jan. 31, Bell and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava attended the fourth annual World Wetlands Clean Up at Black Point Marina. Bell also accompanied the commissioner on a tour of the town.
On Feb. 5, Bell attended the Dr. Larry Feldman Bond Kick Off event at Cutler Bay Academy of Advanced Studies. This event spotlighted the 50-year-old school being chosen for a $12 million renovation for new construction and repairs.
“We had a very busy month in January,” Casals said in his report at a Jan. 21 council meeting. “We submitted for a youth internship program grant through the children’s trust in the amount of $155,000 to expand our internship program. … It would be comprised of 30 students. We also submitted three hazard mitigation grants. These are the same appropriations we are going through the state of Florida as well.”