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SunRail Discussion, May 24, 2010

May 19, 2010

The Winter Park City Commission meeting of May 24, 2010 will be focused on discussing Dillaha’s objections to the commuter rail agreement with Orange County and the current city attorney’s concerns about possible “legal risks” with that agreement. The commission agreed on May 10th that any action taken at the May 24th meeting will be limited to possibly requesting amendments for Orange County’s consideration and that the subject of “termination” will not be discussed.

NOTE AGAIN: A majority of the city commission agreed that the subject of “termination” will not be discussed.

While we now know that Dillaha wants to kill our commuter rail agreement, wants to kill our commuter rail stop, and wants to kill the entire SunRail system the same cannot be said for others sitting on our current city commission. All four of the other members of the commission are either on record as supporting the current agreement or have made campaign or other public commitments not to terminate the agreement with Orange County.

The current city attorney’s opinion concerns “legal risks” he believes may exist in the commuter rail agreement with Orange County and his opinion differs from that of the prior city attorney. The gist of the issue is:

  • The existing agreement does not include a covenant by the city of Winter Park to appropriate funds from non-ad valorem sources to pay possible ongoing operating and maintenance costs of a commuter rail system.
  • In the current attorney’s opinion the absence of such a covenant would require either a vote of the citizens to affirm these expenditures or a different form of “opt out” clause to avoid a possible violation of the Florida State Constitution.

The “legal risk” perceived by the city attorney can be resolved by asking Orange County to accept an amendment in which the City of Winter Park covenants to appropriate non-ad valorem revenues to pay commuter rail costs that may become payable if the “opt out” is not exercised after seven years of fare paying service. This simply means that costs the city may become responsible for under the agreement will not be paid from property tax revenue. Non-ad valorem revenue is all other revenues such as utility taxes and fees which constituted 55% of Winter Park’s 2009 General Fund revenues.

Please consider contacting our city commission members with this message:

We call for an end to the obstruction and a beginning to the cooperation needed to make our SunRail station a reality, and a social and financial success for Winter Park.

Winter Park Mayor and Commissioners can be reached at:

Mayor Ken Bradley –
Commissioner Carolyn Cooper –
Commissioner Phil Anderson –
Commissioner Tom McMacken –
Commissioner Beth Dillaha –

Regards, Pete Weldon
700 Via Lombardy
Winter Park, FL 32789

Posted in Commuter Rail, Policy.

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