Wasting no time, the transition team selected by Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson held their first meeting the day of Robinson's swearing-in. Quint Studer is leading the twelve person transition team and chaired the first meeting at city hall. In addition to Studer, the eleven other transition team members are:
Each team member that was present provided brief comments about their background and what they hoped to achieve during the transition phase. Kristie Tobias was not present at the meeting. Studer stated that the transition team's mission was not to create quick, early wins but to look long-term and develop solutions that can be addressed throughout the mayor's four years in office. The transition team also heard a presentation from legal counsel about the state's Sunshine Law for public meetings.
Mayor Robinson and staff, including new city administrator Chris Holley, were in attendance and Robinson provided remarks at various points during the meeting. The transition team will continue to meet and each team member will hold their own public meetings on their specific subjects during the transition. Studer stated that the transition team will wrap up their work and provide recommendations by March 1, 2019.
There will be a public transition website set up that will provide information on meetings and information distributed throughout the process.
grover robinson sworn in as pensacola mayor, Ann Hill and Jared Moore take their seats on pensacola city council
City of Pensacola government will have some new leadership heading into 2019 as Grover Robinson IV was sworn in as Pensacola's new mayor. Robinson replaces Mayor Ashton Hayward, who decided not to seek re-election after two terms in office. Robinson defeated Councilman Brian Spencer in the November election.
The Pensacola City Council also welcomed two new members as Jared Moore and Ann Hill were sworn-in as well. Moore represents Pensacola City Council District 4 and replaced outgoing council member Larry Johnson while Hill will represent District 6 after replacing Brian Spencer. The ceremony included remarks from the outgoing city council members as well as Mayor Hayward's closing thoughts as his term concludes.
The commission did appoint a new council president. Council members Sherri Myers, P.C. Wu, and Andy Terhaar were vying to replace Councilman Gerald Wingate as council president. After two rounds of voting, Councilman Terhaar emerged with the votes needed to become council president. Terhaar struck a positive tone with his remarks, stating he will work to run efficient meetings and has a good relationship with Mayor Robinson. Councilman Wu was selected as council vice-president.
The current Pensacola City Council members are:
District 1: P.C. Wu, Council Vice-President
District 2: Sherri Myers
District 3: Andy Terhaar, Council President
District 4: Jared Moore
District 5: Gerald Wingate
District 6: Ann Hill
District 7: Jewel Cannada-Wynn
The Escambia County Commission saw one new commissioner sworn-in, one returning commissioner sworn-in, and a new chairman take the gavel at a ceremony right before Thanksgiving. Newly elected County Commission District Four Commissioner Robert Bender took the oath of office with his family at his side. Re-elected District Two Commissioner Doug Underhill also took his oath of office and District Three Commissioner Lumon May was installed as Chairman of the County Commission for 2018-19.
Commissioners Underhill and Bender provided remarks that acknowledged that Escambia County has issues and challenges, but are optimistic that the board is well positioned to addressing those concerns. Both commissioners thanked their families. friends, and supporters for helping to get them elected. Outgoing Commission Chairman Jeff Bergosh was acknowledged with a plaque for his service as chairman for the past year.
Chairman May stated that he appreciated the fact that despite a tense political environment, the board is able to work together in a positive fashion to accomplish their goals. Mat also presented outgoing District Four Commissioner Grover Robinson a plaque in recognition of his twelve years of service on the commission. District Four Commissioner Robert Bender is vice-chairman.
The current Escambia County Commission members are:
District 1: Jeff Bergosh
District 2: Doug Underhill
District 3: Lumon May, Chairman
District 4: Robert Bender, Vice-Chairman
District 5: Steven Barry
The Escambia County Commission provided their legislative recommendations for next Spring's legislative session. The commission initially only provided a list, but under a recommendation from the county's lobbyist, they then moved to prioritize certain projects. After input and discussion, the commission put forward four transportation projects as the most important. They are:
• Pine Forest Road 4‐Laning (I‐10 to Nine Mile Road)
• West Cervantes Street / Mobile Highway Corridor Safety Improvements
• Muscogee Road Widening and Drainage Project
• Beulah / I‐10 Interchange / US29 Connector Project
The commissioners did not rank these but did prioritize them over other suggested projects. The other recommendations the commission forwarded include:
• Estuary Program – Pensacola/Perdido, Choctawhatchee, and St. Andrew’s
• Bob Sikes Fishing Pier Rehabilitation & Pensacola Beach Blvd. Access Road Project
• Klondike Road / Wilde Lake Blvd. Widening Project
•Funding through Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) towards Pedestrian/Bicycle Projects (over the current $300k)
The 2019 legislative session will begin in March.
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On November 9th, the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) approved an average 13.8 percent decrease in workers’ comp rates to take effect January 1, 2019 for new and renewal policies. This is based on the National Council on Compensation Insurance’s (NCCI) filing for a 13.4 percent decrease to OIR at the end of August, 2018. When making its filing, NCCI pointed to improved loss experience as the reason for the decrease.
In a statement, Florida's Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said:
"A workers’ compensation insurance decrease of 13.8 percent amounts to almost a half billion dollars in savings for Florida’s business community who support local economies, employ our neighbors, and give back to our communities. We must continue to do all we can to support and fuel Florida businesses, the backbone of our economy. While today’s news is good news, we must keep a close watch on Florida’s workers’ compensation insurance market so that we don’t go back to the time of skyrocketing rates.”
The Florida Chamber will continue to advise businesses on the impact of rising attorney fees and other cost drivers to the system. Friday’s rate decrease is good news for Florida job creators, but employers should be prepared for potential rate increases on the horizon as attorney fees continue to exert pressure on the workers’ comp system. As more time passes following the Castellanos decision in April 2016, these increased costs will be included in future experience rate filings.
All four ballot initiatives endorsed Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors were approved by the voters on Election Day. The Chamber Board had previously announced their support for the three Florida Constitutional Amendments and one local ballot initiative.
“We are pleased to see these initiatives approved by the voters,” stated Chamber Board Chairman Steve Moorhead. “The passage of these initiatives will help our local business climate, protect our military missions as well as support the education initiatives needed to supply the workforce of the future.”
The Greater Pensacola Chamber Board endorsed the following proposals:
Amendment 2: Makes permanent the cap of 10 percent on annual non-homestead parcel assessment increases set to expire on January 1, 2019. The cap does not apply to school district taxes. Properties considered non-homestead parcels include non-homestead residential properties, such as second homes and rental apartments, and nonresidential property, such as commercial property and vacant land.
Amendment 7: Requires death benefits for first responders and military members, a supermajority vote for college fee increases, and adds the state college system structure to the constitution
Amendment 9: Bans offshore drilling for oil and natural gas on lands beneath all state waters and bans the use of vapor-generating electronic devices in enclosed indoor workplaces.
Escambia County School District Referendum: The passage of this referendum will now allow the Escambia County School Board to appoint future superintendents of schools.