- City Council Meetings
- Special City Council - February 4, 2023
Special City Council - February 4, 2023
February 4, 2023
The City of Titusville City Council met in special session on Saturday, February 4, 2023, at Titusville City Hall, second floor, Council Chamber, 555 South Washington Avenue, Titusville, Florida 32796. Mayor Diesel called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m. Those present in the Council Chamber included Mayor Daniel Diesel, Vice-Mayor Joe C. Robinson, and City Council Members Herman A. Cole, Jr., Col USAF Retired, Jo Lynn Nelson, and Dr. Sarah Stoeckel.
An estimated 47 to 50 citizens were present that sat amongst several group tables for the community conversation workshop.
City Manager Scott Larese, Assistant City Manager Thomas Abbate, Assistant City Attorney Chelsea Farrell, Community Development Director Brad Parrish, and other City staff members were also present. Assistant City Clerk Jolynn Donhoff completed the minutes of the meeting.
Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Community Conversation – Mayor Diesel and City Manager Larese welcomed the citizens and reviewed the purpose of the special City Council meeting and community conversation. Mayor Diesel summarized that Council’s role was to listen to the community in preparation of the FY 2024 budget. City Manager Larese provided copies of the City’s Talking Points Magazine and other information on the group tables for the citizens. Additionally, City Manager Larese gave a presentation that reviewed the following information:
- Agenda for the special City Council meeting and community conversation
- The City’s Vision
- The City’s Mission
- The City’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Strategic Goals and Objectives
- The City’s Strategic Planning Model for FY 2024
- FY 2024 Budget Environment
Kristin Bakke from LEAD Brevard facilitated the remainder of the special City Council meeting. She was charged with objectively seeking the citizens’ input on how the City Council might allocate the City’s resources for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024. It was important to listen to each other, she advised. She also reviewed the City’s FY 2023 Strategic Goals, as followed:
1. Quality of Life
2. Effective and Efficient Services
3. Financial Stability
4. Economic Development
5. Effective Governance
Facilitator Bakke advised that she would ask the citizens to discuss Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Strategic Goals 1, 2, and 4 during the meeting. The other goals of 3. Financial Stability and 5. Effective Governance would not be discussed, due to these goals were persistently pursued by the City Council, the City Manager, and the City’s departments. At the end of the meeting, she would also ask the citizens to share what they felt was the single most important issue to address in FY 2024.
Next, Facilitator Bakke requested the citizens, as individuals and using index cards, write down what they felt needed to happen at this meeting to indicate this community conversation was a success. Then, she asked each group to collectively discuss what they felt was the most important issue the City should address, which was summarized and as followed:
- Affordable housing---provide more options and regulate housing rents or pricing to offset greed and profiting from individuals struggling to pay rising housing costs. High housing costs and low wages were a social determinant for many
- Public transportation---ensuring veterans and disabled persons could get to other areas, reducing the cost of a one-way ticket to Orlando
- Doing more to inform the citizens---explain why citizens’ recommendations were or were not adopted, educate citizens on growth policies, provide an indication that citizens were being heard, etc.
- Indian River Lagoon (IRL)---get more money to address the north end, long term planning, the lagoon’s health affected a healthy and sustainable community, testing pollutants in storm water outfall areas, more infrastructure was needed to protect the IRL, sewer spill concerns, informing citizens how they can get involved, etc.
- Youth development and investment---the City’s future work force
- Other multiple issues (requested by one group table) ---The goal of Economic Development had not changed for many years, not blocking the view along the lagoon / IRL, sustain public safety and prompt responses to emergency calls, encourage businesses like restaurants and others to open during late night or early morning rocket launches, encourage the community to hold diversity activities to bring people together, champion an urban forestry program and the Titusville Tree Team’s goals (an informal group that championed trees)
Facilitator Bakke advised that some of the aforementioned requests or recommendations were within the municipality’s jurisdiction or abilities, while others were not. As the community conversation and workshop continued, she would ask the citizens to think about and offer potential solutions for issues or concerns that were in the City’s scope or jurisdiction.
At 10:28 a.m., a 10-minute recess was called. The meeting resumed at 10:38 a.m.
Next, Facilitator Bakke facilitated receiving high-level feedback from the citizens on Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Strategic Goals 1, 2, and 4.
1. Quality of Life
2. Effective and Efficient Services
4. Economic Development
Goal 1. Quality of Life.
Facilitator Bakke sought the citizens’ input on Goal 1. Quality of Life. After allocating a few minutes for discussion, the citizens provided the following feedback on items they felt were important to pursue.
- Measure success of goals
- The goals or many items were intertwined
- Plant trees for shade, cooler temperatures, and to filter stormwater runoff going into the Indian River Lagoon (IRL). Do this instead of enhancing the City’s entryways
- Approve an urban forestry program recommended by the Titusville Environmental Commission
- Address affordable housing outside of Federal and State responsibilities
- Address pollution parameters for the IRL, publish statistics, set goals, monitor, measure, and evaluate each year if the IRL was cleaner
- Ask businesses to discontinue selling harmful chemicals that may pollute the IRL
- Apply for available State funding to improve the IRL. It was noted the City had applied and received $1.6 million for IRL related projects and approximately five water quality projects were underway or planned (possibly best categorized under effective governance)
- Engage or leverage more growth through the North Brevard Economic Development Zone
- Youth development
- Many good things were happening, some in the City’s jurisdiction, but not all. How could this information be communicated to the citizens?
- Publish the Titusville Talking Points (a quarterly published City magazine) more frequently
- Add more objectives to Goal 1
- Affordable housing’s intertwined relationship with Quality of Life
- Titusville Police Department Headquarters could be more centralized
Goal 2. Effective and Efficient Services.
Facilitator Bakke sought the citizens’ input on whether there was enough of a consensus on Goal 2. Effective and Efficient Services and the current goal objectives. Feedback was given by only one citizen that reviewed information on City Council and City board meeting schedules and citizens attending Council and board meetings and getting involved or serving on a City advisory board. Advisory boards could support Goal 1 or Quality of Life, as well as Goal 2. Council Member Nelson distributed board and commission applications amongst the citizens and group tables.
Goal 4. Economic Development.
Facilitator Bakke sought the citizens’ input on Goal 4. Economic Development. After allocating a few minutes for discussion, the citizens provided the following feedback on items important to pursue.
- Blight (in regards to buildings and property) – definitions, processes, etc.
- Examples of properties that were once blighted or poor condition, but were restored and repurposed (Examples: the old K-Mart, the old Gooding’s Supermarket, the old Miracle City Mall that was now the Titus Landing Mall, etc.)
- Assisting small business. Educate the youth and others on how to open a business, partner with the school system
- Fund building and maintaining a municipal swimming pool for youth and others (the YMCA pool also discussed, but which was noted was closed for 6 months of the year, due to the cost to heat the pool was too costly)
- Public housing and who was responsible---U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- The community getting involved in revitalization and housing plans. Citizens could contact the City or the City’s Neighborhood Services Division for more information. There were possible components that citizens could get involved with like trees, literacy, etc.
- All citizens did not have computers and the internet access to online information. To this, develop ways to communicate with these citizens, too
Facilitator Bakke advised the citizens had shared and listened to an ocean of many thoughts and challenges. Now, she asked the citizens to return the earlier stated question, “What did the citizens feel was the single most important issue the City should address in FY 2024”? To this and due to the end of the meeting was drawing to a close, the citizens offered the following feedback:
- Address public perceptions and concerns
- Provide matrixes with data and measurements of success
- Have impact fees pay the costs of improvements
- Assist small businesses
- Improve communication with citizens. Have elected officials give regular press releases. Keep the public informed
- Affordable Housing
Public Comment – There were no additional comments or requests.
Before the meeting adjourned, each individual City Council Member thanked the citizens for their input and participation and provided additional comments, too.
Member Stoeckel commented on the City’s Strategic Plan Goals, measuring success via matrixes (to not lose sight of the goals), staff being held accountable, Brevard County held a citizens academy that explained how government worked and citizens could attend, the importance of citizens serving on City advisory boards, regular communication with the public, additional modalities of communication suggestions were welcomed and sought, department presentations on City services at regular City Council meetings, etc.
Member Cole felt there were many misconceptions about what issues were in the City Council’s power or ability. For example, the City could not influence decisions made by Brevard County School Board or the Brevard County Parks and Recreation or about public transportation, etc. Also, the definition of blight was created and provided by the State. The point he emphasized was that he and the other City Council Members had the best interest of all citizens and stakeholders in their hearts and minds.
Member Nelson advised that some of the messages she heard during the citizens’ feedback were about communication, use of amenities, the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), park improvements, and programs or activities for youth. She advised that other agencies like the Boys & Girls Club also sought to provide programs for youth and mentor youth. Additionally, some infrastructure improvements like new City pipes could be deemed a higher priority before some other wants or needs could be addressed.
Vice-Mayor Robinson commented on his involvement and experience with affordable housing. The term was abused, misused, and misunderstood. He also commented on the delineation of responsibility, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there was a nationwide housing need, Titusville was a caring and close community, and there were some that supported affordable housing, so long as it was Not in My Back Yard (NIMBY).
Mayor Diesel commented on several concepts. On affordable housing, housing costs and the competition to provide affordable housing was a nationwide challenge. On the IRL, there were projects and funding underway to support cleaning-up the lagoon. About the community conversation (this workshop), the City was unique that it hosted a community conversation with the community, whereas a majority of other cities did not.
Communication with the citizens was also a two-way street, whereby citizens were encouraged to initiate and pick up the phone or view the City’s information sources to learn information on items or issues they were concerned with. Additionally, providing funding to have a municipal pool would be difficult to come-up with, although as a prior athletic coach, Mayor Diesel advised that he understood the challenges and importance of having these activities for youth.
With no further business to discuss, the meeting adjourned at noon (12:00 p.m.).