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Longboat voters approve undergrounding

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

Voters made it clear on Tuesday: the neighborhoods of Longboat Key will be undergrounded.

A total of 2,061 Longboaters — more than 54% — voted in support of undergrounding neighborhoods. About 400 less — 1,690 — voted in opposition to undergrounding the power lines in neighborhoods.

Statistically, Sarasota carried the vote. Sarasota voted overwhelmingly in favor of the measure with 61%  — 1,550 voters — supporting the plan and 974 voting against the measure.

Manatee County did not support the proposal with 716 voters or 59% voting against the plan, and 511 in support. The fact that Sarasota County has more than double the number of voters as Manatee County allowed the “Yes” vote to carry and pass the referendum question with the 54% margin of approval.

Mayor Jack Duncan spoke with Longboat Key News following the vote.

“I think the bottom line is we created an opportunity to create a huge aesthetic improvement on Longboat Key and hopefully we will see large increase in property values.  That is number one. Secondly, we will make our residents safer. I compliment all the residents of Longboat Key for seeing it that way. I think this may be the most profound improvement our island may have ever made. It is a huge step; I am very excited about it. I also want to compliment the courage of the Commission,” said Duncan.

The total turnout was very high for Longboat Key elections with 61.73% of the island’s 6,140 registered voters casting ballots.

The specific question voters said “Yes” to asked if the Town can issue bonds not to exceed $23.85 million to bury utilities and add fiber optic cable within the Key’s neighborhoods and side streets.

Town Manager Dave Bullock said with a positive vote every overhead line on Gulf of Mexico Drive and on every side street and property will be buried within five years.

Voters last November approved burying power lines on Gulf of Mexico Drive and the approval this Tuesday now allows the expansion of that project to include the rest of the Key. The addition of the dark fiber optic cable will be buried along with the utility lines and will be run also to every home and condominium that already has undergrounded utilities.

Each parcel of property on Longboat Key will pay an assessment toward the project that has been calculated by the town based on a method that measures the general and specific benefit each property receives. The specific cost will depend on bond rates and whether a property owner wishes to pay up front or to have the cost amortized over 30 years. The estimated assessment can be found at the Town’s website, www.longboatkey.org

The next step is the Town will use surveyors to map the entire project. Then, FPL will design the system and all of its elements and provide a cost as if they were to provide the work. Then, the project will go out to bid, using the specs specifically stated by FPL.

Voting results by County


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5 Responses for “Longboat voters approve undergrounding”

  1. William Kary says:

    I didn’t realize there is a segment of “homeowners” that did not realize at their time of purchase that it is necessary to be a resident of the State of Florida and Longboat Key to have a vote! We obviously need to have mandatory “pre-purchase” classes instituted on the Key…

  2. al green says:

    An added advantage to undergrounding power lines was largely ignored. While on the Commission, I heard testimony from the Fire Chief that burying the lines would reduce the time residents would be barred from rentry to their homes by three weeks after a hurricane that would hit the island

  3. who's on first says:

    Taxpayer without a vote COULD always change his residency to low to no tax Florida, rather than complaining and therefore have a vote. However, so long as this island IS thought of as a retirement haven where people come to spend their retirement years (and live close to THEIR parents who are in Venice) while observing appreciation in the value of their properties, it’ll always be those who live her allowing those without a vote to pay for stuff. And, if you buy a place to rent out until you’re indeed ready to occupy it, you do have some income and a dog in the fight. So, accept the fact that the north end got screwed again by the more moderate political crowd at the south end. Once again, “the south has risen again”.

  4. LBK taxpayer wo a vote says:

    Hi Steve. It is great to see the metrics but once again you left out the total number of taxpayers I think it is important to report that 39% of the people paying for this undergrounding did not have a vote. So we really have no idea how many of the property owners support this idea and this tax. Your reporting does not accurately present all the facts around this project and I encourage you to give a more complete picture in you unbiased reporting. According to the towns materials on this topic there are 10,038 parcels. Of those owners at a maximum 37% expressed an opinion by voting on the assessment 24% were silent and 39% were not allowed to vote. And of the total only 20% expressed positive support via voting

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