Rep. Tyler Sirois Proposes Port Canaveral Invest 2 Percent of Its Gross Revenue to Lagoon Restoration

By  //  August 1, 2019

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potential for an investment of over $61 million

SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Republican state Rep. Tyler Sirois held a press conference Thursday at Kelly Park on Merritt Island to announce his office notified the Canaveral Port Authority of his intent to file legislation that will add to the port’s charter a section on environmental impact.

This legislation will require the port to invest 2 percent of their gross revenue to lagoon restoration for the next 30 years.

BREVARD COUNTY • MERRITT ISLAND, FLORIDA – Republican state Rep. Tyler Sirois held a press conference Thursday at Kelly Park on Merritt Island to announce his office has notified the Canaveral Port Authority of his intent to file legislation that will add to the port’s charter a section on environmental impact. (See letter below)

This legislation will require the port to invest 2 percent of their gross revenue to lagoon restoration for the next 30 years.

This creates the potential for an investment of over $61 million. The Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program will administer these funds. In the event of a state of emergency, the provisions of this act will be suspended.

Sirois was joined by several elected officials from around the county who stood in solidarity with him during the announcement.

“I am grateful to be joined by several of our mayors and city council members, this is a fitting location for today’s announcement,” said Sirois.

“Over the course of the last few years, the voters of Brevard County have raised a half-cent sales tax to fund the restoration of our Indian River Lagoon. The county commission and municipalities are working on infrastructure, applying for grants, and seeking matching funds.”

Sirois said that elementary schools to our universities—students are studying everything from living shorelines to lagoon hydrology and algal blooms.

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“The legislature has provided funding for septic-to-sewer conversions, muck dredging, and research on restoring historical ocean inflows to the lagoon. In partnership with the Brevard Zoo, even inmates at the county jail are building oyster beds,” said Sirois.

“Groups like the Indian River Lagoon Coalition, the Marine Resources Council, and the Save Our Lagoon Citizen Oversight Committee continue to raise awareness as our community rallies around the mission of lagoon restoration.”

Sirois said that residents have responded with the determination, generosity, and the spirit of innovation that has come to define Florida’s Space Coast. Like hurricanes, the end of the Shuttle Program, and the Great Recession.

“I am confident that we will meet this challenge and save our lagoon,” said Sirois.

“As a member of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee—sitting in hearings on the Everglades, Florida Keys, and our springs—I find myself asking: what more can we do for the Indian River?

My message to the port, today is clear: help fix the lagoon. Port Canaveral is not a private business, it is a government special district created by the Florida Legislature. And like all government, it must be accountable and responsive to the people.”

Rep. Tyler Sirois: My message to the port, today is clear: help fix the lagoon. Port Canaveral is not a private business, it is a government special district created by the Florida Legislature. And like all government, it must be accountable and responsive to the people.

SEE REP. SIROIS’ LETTER TO THE CANAVERAL PORT AUTHORITY:

The Honorable Micah Loyd, Chairman
Canaveral Port Authority
445 Challenger Road, Suite 301
Cape Canaveral, Florida 32920

Dear Chairman Loyd,

The Canaveral Port District was created as a government special district by an act of the Florida Legislature. The purpose of this letter is to inform the Port Authority of my intent to pursue legislation adding to the Port District’s Charter a section on environmental impact.

Lagoon restoration is critical to the future of Brevard County. In November 2016, Brevard voters took the extraordinary step of passing a half-cent sales tax to fund lagoon restoration projects.

The Board of County Commissioners and municipalities are focused on prioritizing stormwater infrastructure. From K-12 through higher education, students are studying living shorelines, marine life, algal blooms, and hydrology.

The Florida Legislature and St. Johns River Water Management District have committed funds for a variety of projects including muck dredging and septic-to-sewer conversions. Even inmates at the county jail are building oyster beds for the lagoon.

Our residents have responded to this crisis with determination, generosity, and innovation. Still, I find myself asking: can the Canaveral Port Authority do more to support the restoration of the Indian River Lagoon? This is a question worthy of further discussion.

On October 31, 2018, the Canaveral Port Authority-a government special district-announced a record-breaking $103.75 million in total revenue for Fiscal Year 2018. Additionally, the port realized a 7.7% increase over the previous year in the number of annual cruise passengers and a 6.9% increase in cargo tonnage.

Over the years the port has funded many projects of direct benefit to the port and environment, such as water quality monitoring, installation of manatee sensors, beach renourishment, and grants for various studies. Thanks to your leadership and the good stewardship of your colleagues past and present, the future of the port appears bright.

Consider the impact of the Canaveral Port Authority earmarking 2% of its gross revenue each year for investment in lagoon restoration for a period of 30 years. Assuming the port will meet or exceed $103 million in annual revenue each year, we have the potential to invest over $61 million toward lagoon restoration.

My proposal provides these funds to the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program the local authority on estuary-related sciences and project management. Recognizing various contingencies, I included a provision to suspend this act in the event of a state of emergency.

This proposal is intended to start a discussion about the responsibility that Port Canaveral has for the way that infrastructure-such as the locks, causeways, and bulkhead-have contributed to the conditions in the lagoon.

The Canaveral Port Authority can, if it so chooses, take bold action toward restoring and protecting this valuable natural resource for current residents, visitors, and future generations. It is my hope that our collaboration will result in legislation that balances the business of the port with the desire of our constituents to see a meaningful investment in the restoration of the Indian River Lagoon.

At the invitation of Commissioner Robyn Hattaway, I look forward to attending the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Canaveral Port Authority on August 28, 2019.

Thank you for your consideration.

Tyler I. Sirois

CC: The Honorable Members of the Brevard County Legislative Delegation
The Honorable Members of the Canaveral Port Authority

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