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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We Love Questions.
A big part of our journey together as a community is asking intelligent questions and learning from our shared experiences. We welcome all questions and look forward to learning with you.
Why should Merritt Island consider forming a city?
By incorporating our area as a municipality, we can directly address the local issues we face, make decisions ourselves and return a more significant share of tax dollars to our local community. We can reinvest Merritt Island tax dollars and manage our own destiny. Citizens can have a local voice in their own city government. A city can advocate for a better share of our County’s Resources and have a seat at the table to discuss issues impacting Island residents.
In Brevard County, there are 16 cities and towns plus the unincorporated areas. Merritt Island’s population would make it the fourth largest city behind Palm Bay, Melbourne and Titusville. County resources often go to cities that have representatives to lobby for their particular needs. Cities can apply for grant money to accomplish desired projects and get extra revenue for infrastructure and the environment. Cities can advocate for their residents with private companies and government agencies. Currently, Merritt Island has limited representation although it is one of the largest islands in the State of Florida and has unique community characteristics and needs.
Why were these particular geographic boundaries selected?
Merritt Island has very natural boundaries given our miles of shoreline which establish our east and west boundaries. Currently, the area being considered would start at the northern boundary of the Kennedy Space Center and extends south to the southern edge of District 2, the Pineda Causeway. The area south of the Pineda Causeway would remain unincorporated Merritt Island as it is today in District 4.
What is "Government Lite”?
"Government Lite" is a model of municipal incorporation used by many of Florida's award-winning small cities. The model limits government size and taxing capacity while providing its citizens with local control of issues and preserving their local quality of life. Government Lite focuses on minimizing costs and addressing citizens' concerns efficiently and responsibly. Government Lite, requires a minimal number of employees to manage this style of government.
How do you run a city with minimal employees?
City employees are minimized through the use of inter-local agreements with the County such as Police, Fire, Roads, and Waste Management services. There is no need for a large city building/city hall.
Would my taxes go up?
A common misconception is that cities are synonymous with high taxes. "Government Lite" cities historically have some of the lowest taxes. A goal of “Government Lite” is to minimize the expense of our local community while still providing citizens with a local voice and control. It focuses on issues most important to us as a community while reducing costs through a streamlined government.
Cities and counties are funded by more than simply property tax.
What would happen with our current services such as Fire and Police?
Our new city would enter into inter-local agreements with Brevard County to provide the same services currently in place at the same costs or could evaluate cost-savings by negotiating service contracts. For instance, Merritt Island will contract with our County Sheriff's department to provide law enforcement services, and Cocoa Water will continue providing water. Road and Bridge repairs will continue to be handled by Brevard County. We can increase or decrease our services as desired. As a city we can monitor performance and prioritize local needs to ensure our residents get the exact level of service they require.
What would happen with Planning and Zoning?
Brevard County currently provides building inspections, planning, zoning, and code enforcement services. The intention is to continue these services through Brevard County at the current level until our new city adopts a comprehensive plan (required by State law within two years of incorporation). Initially, Brevard County zoning must be adopted by the City. If our citizens feel changes or safeguards are necessary, the City can make alterations when it adopts a comprehensive plan and assumes the management of services.
Is this another layer of government?
No, a city government is a transfer of power from the county to the city. It removes the county from making decisions for the city.
Brevard County decisions affect the entire unincorporated population and get carried out by hundreds of county employees. By contrast, a Government-Lite municipality empowers its citizens to keep local issues local with decisions made by residents who understand the local community's needs. Its goal is to remain thin, efficient, and responsive, allowing local management without reinventing the wheel. Existing tax revenue and state revenue redirected to Merritt Island would be managed by Merritt Island and remain on Merritt Island.
As a city, Merritt Island residents would be able to have their needs addressed by decision-makers who live in their neighborhoods and understand the challenges faced as a
community. Volunteer committees of residents and business owners could work hand in hand with elected leaders to help preserve our Island’s history and advance its future according to Merritt Island residents’ vision. There are several successful “Government Lite” city models in Florida such as Estero and DeBary.
Who is funding this effort?
The Merritt Island Preservation Committee (MIPC) is a volunteer organization originally organized through common concerns within local HOA’s, business owners and residents from all parts of the Island. The committee has an average of 36 years as Merritt island residents. Volunteers from this committee have funded the costs associated with exploring incorporation. Addressing commonly expressed frustrations from Island residents, our volunteers formally requested the Brevard County Commission to fund a Feasibility Study of how revenues and taxes would be impacted if Merritt Island residents voted to become a city.
Brevard County Commissioners unanimously agreed to fund the Feasibility Study indicating there are enough unique issues to our geographic area that incorporation deserved to be studied. We will continue to research the process of establishing a city and gather residents' input on what they envision for Merritt Island. Diverse opinions are welcome! The whole point of our research into what Merritt Island could look like as a city is that you can voice your opinions as residents, discuss options, and help find the best solution for our community.
The Merritt Island Preservation Committee’s goal is to improve our community through our residents and to give residents the voice and power to make informed decisions.
Why did the MIPC create a PAC before the feasibility study was completed?
There is a tight timeframe to submit documents required for the incorporation request to be added to the general election ballot (feasibility study, proposed charter, and more). Activities needed to be performed simultaneously to meet those deadlines, and funds were required to pay for them. While receiving the feasibility study before creating the PAC would have been ideal, Merritt Island voters would have likely missed their opportunity to vote on this issue in Nov 2024. It was worth the risk to the MIPC to begin activities and not delay this vote.
Do you have more questions?
Answers to questions will be posted in the FAQ.
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