FP&L Colluding With City of Miami Beach to Impose Hidden Tax on Residents

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Tim Suereth
timsuereth.com

Miami Beach politicians are quietly negotiating a hidden utility tax that the local residents and business owners will be burdened with for the next 30 years. The commission slid this agenda item (ordinance R5H) into the end of their September 14th meeting at 7:21 PM, once all non-government observers had left the chambers.

“Miami Beach has had a contract with Florida Power and Light (FP&L) for the last 30 years that permits them to tax Miami Beach electric utility customers at a rate of 6% of their total bill. FP&L holds the money for two or three months, collecting interest, and then disperses it to the city. This “tax” appears on utility bills as a “Franchise Fee” but it is actually a hidden tax that goes towards the city budget,” stated Steven Bailey, spokesman for Tea Party Miami.

The current FP&L contract, which was originally signed in 1982, ends in January 2012. The City Manager, Mayor and Commissioners are able to eliminate the tax completely, after that date, or reduce it to any rate they want. Unfortunately, the Mayor and Commission intend on passing a new tax at approximately 6% and extending FP&L’s monopoly through 2042.

Tim Suereth
timsuereth.com

This contract will lockout any other energy producing utility that wants to enter the market for the duration of the contract. “Who knows what new technologies are going to be developed over the next 30 years. Mini power stations already power small cities and corporate campuses, like the Bloom Energy Box. It’s foolish to think that we won’t have any new energy options available to us in the next 30 years,” said Bailey.

Barry White from Citizens Allied for Responsible Energy (CARE) pleaded with the Commission to eradicate the unjust and hidden tax. White stated, “There is no need for any municipality to have a franchise fee agreement. Absolutely none. Parkland, in Broward County, did away with their franchise fee in 1993.” Himself and the Vice-Mayor of South Miami will be at future meetings to instruct the Commission on the perils hidden within the FP&L contract.

“If the Commission continues in their partnership with FP&L, we won’t have any new energy options in the foreseeable future, just an FP&L monopoly. It is shocking that these few individuals could lock the residents of Miami Beach into such a bad deal for such a long period of time,” said Bailey.

Tim Suereth
timsuereth.com

“It’s hard to imaging that there will be no new energy technologies developed during the term of this contract,” Stated Bailey. “Mayor Matti Bower, and Commissioners Ed Tobin, Jerry Libbin, Michael Gongora, Deede Wiethorn and Jonah Wolfson will all be responsible for the demise of any potential ‘green energy’ initiatives that could have been implemented over the next three decades on Miami Beach. These ‘green’ or alternative energy providers will surely find other, more business-friendly locations to invest and build their infrastructure, than in areas like Miami Beach where the utilities have been given monopolies.”

The City of Miami Beach’s attorney Raul Aguila also added a “Most Favorable Nations” clause to the contract that allows the City to raise the tax rate on residents to the highest rate charged by ANY other city in Miami-Dade, Broward or Palm Beach Counties, anytime through the end of the contract. Raul Aquila was happy to express to the commission that Miami-Dade County will soon be renegotiating their franchise fee and if they raise their rate above 6%, then the City of Miami Beach can also implement an increase in their tax rate.

In addition, the city manager, Gorge Gonzalez added a “First Right Of Refusal” clause that would further eliminate any competitors trying to enter the Miami Beach energy market. The manager state “It’s about as good as we’re going to make the franchise agreement. It’s about as good as we can get.” That is not true. The city has the ability to reduce or eliminate the tax altogether. This is just another smoke-screen by government officials who are trying to push through their agenda items. Could FP&L be influencing these politicians?

Tim Suereth
timsuereth.com

Jerry Libbin made a motion to pass a 5.9% tax, on first reading. “None of the Commissioners or the Mayor seemed to have read the contract or know much about it, but they are all about to obligate Miami Beach residents to the terms contained within it for the next three decades. Mayor Matti Bower seemed dazed and confused during the entire presentation. She just couldn’t understand any of the details,” Bailey surmised.

“Miami Beach leadership that can balance the budget without imposing a hidden utility tax on their residents, especially when there is so much overspending and government waste occurring that could be eliminated with proper management and oversight. Seven Commission members and a City manager should not be allowed to unilaterally enact a 6% tax on residents, without voter approval – and a 30-year contract should NEVER be allowed. The entire commission and city manager should be removed from office if they bind the city to a 30-year commitment, said Bailey.