The amicus curiae is a group of small and rural local governments consisting of the City of Belle Glade, Village of Indiantown, the City of Chipley, and the City of Vernon (the “Small Local Governments”) and the Lake Okeechobee Regional Economic Alliance of Palm Beach County, Inc. (“LORE”). The Small Local Governments and LORE are located in rural areas of the state. We represent citizens of Florida who rely on electrical power, just like the other citizens of Florida, but whose location and income make them a less desirable customer for electrical power providers whose rates are not regulated by the State, but instead are driven purely by the desire to make the most profit. The communities represented by the Small Local Governments will be disproportionately impacted by the proposed amendment, because we are located in areas that are less developed and less population-dense, providing less incentive for an unregulated purely profit-driven electrical provider to supply power. Additionally, our smaller and less developed communities rely significantly on taxes and fees provided by existing electrical utilities, and the proposed amendment jeopardizes many of these taxes and fees. The likely results of the passage of the proposed amendment, as detailed below, give rise to our interest in this case.
While the Small Local Governments and LORE agree that the ballot title and summary are misleading and the proposed amendment violates the single-subject rule as argued by the primary parties opposing the proposed amendment, we seek to inform the Court on issues unique to our communities.
Further, the Proposed Amendment would cause substantial reduction in the Small Local Governments’ revenues, because it would likely result in lower property taxes and municipal utility taxes, and would probably abolish franchise fees. We rely on property taxes, municipal utility taxes, and franchise fees from the existing electrical utilities to supply critical income for our governments to operate. Without these franchise fees and taxes, many of the Small Local Governments will struggle to pay for basic government functions such as police and fire services. These results will make it even more challenging to bring economic development to rural areas of the state.
Read their full legal brief filed with the Florida Supreme Court here.