Homeowners that experienced flooding of their homes during Hurricane Ian (September 2022) are encouraged to contact us about possible funding from the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) for flood mitigation projects.
An informational Community Workshop will be held on Thursday, February 9, 2023, at the Winter Springs Senior Center (400 N. Edgemon Avenue), beginning at 6 PM.
The following options are available to homeowners with a past flooding history:
Elevation of flood Prone Homes (New finish floor is lifted 1.5ft above Base Flood Elevation (BFE)).
Homeowners with elevated homes will need FEMA-sponsored Flood Insurance for the remaining of the structure’s life.
However, flood insurance is not required to apply for the grant.
2. Acquisition and demolition of flood-prone homes The affected homes will be purchased by the City and will be demolished soon thereafter.
No new structures will ever be allowed to be constructed on those parcels.
The HMGP assists States, territories, federally-recognized tribes, and local communities by:
Significantly reducing or permanently eliminating future risk to lives and property from natural hazards.
Providing funds to implement projects in accordance with priorities identified in State, tribal, or local hazard mitigation plans
Enabling mitigation measures to be implemented during the recovery following a major disaster declaration.
Typically projects are funded by a combination of Federal and non-Federal funds. HMGP funds may be used to pay up to 75% of the eligible costs.
Please note this opportunity is completely voluntary. If eligible to submit to FEMA, the City will submit a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program(HMGP) application to the Florida Division of Emergency Management for funding consideration under the Hurricane Ian disaster to include the properties of interested homeowners under the elevation.
I have proposed at the Commission Meeting on January 8, 2023; that we should consider implementing a Video Live streaming meeting. On behalf of the residents, I believe this is important because it provides transparency and accessibility to the public. By live streaming, citizens can stay informed about the actions and decisions being made by their elected officials and can easily access this information from the comfort of their own homes. This also ensures accountability and open communication between the government and its constituents, allowing for greater civic engagement and a more democratic society.
A LIVE STREAM OF THE WINTER SPRINGS COMMISSION MEETINGS will increase participation:
People with disabilities will have even greater access to meetings.
The ability to “zoom in” from virtually anywhere minutes before a meeting alleviates the need to make the long drive home from work.
Citizens with children can now participate more effectively from home, instead of having to find childcare in order to physically attend a public meeting.
Meetings are running 4-5 hours long.
This is not fair to our community members, who are just there for that one item.
Avoid making residents wait for hours to speak.
Respecting Time is a form of Respect.
Most Important Issues are at the End of the Meetings
Creates more Transparency.
Our neighboring cities are using VISUAL Video for their city commission meetings.
At the urging of state Sen. Jason Brodeur, Florida lawmakers ordered an audit of Winter Springs after residents have long raised concerns about the operation of the city’s water and wastewater systems, a massive sewage spill into a neighborhood pond and allegations of public documents being withheld.
But recently elected Mayor Kevin McCann called the allegations a political witch hunt and blasted members of the state Legislature’s Joint Legislative Auditing Committee for not alerting city leaders of the probe.
“These are paid political operatives that are putting this stuff forward,” McCann said last week during the committee hearing in Tallahassee. “We’re financially sound, and they won’t find anything here. … This is a pure weaponizing of this committee.”
Brodeur, who grew up in Winter Springs, said nearly all the complaints he receives from residents in his district pertain to Winter Springs’ operations in City Hall. An operational audit conducted by the state’s auditor general over the next several months, Brodeur said, would take a hard look at the Seminole County city.
“With a city of 38,000 people, clearly everything is personal,” said Brodeur, a Republican from Sanford. “Everyone knows everyone. So all I would like … is to have a third party, independent audit, say: ‘What are they doing? Are the contracts kosher?’ … I just want to get to the bottom of it. If some of this stuff is untrue, I want to say that an independent, third party came in and we looked at it, and it’s not true. So go pound sand. But if it is true, we want a corrective action plan.”
Before voting unanimously for the audit, committee members said the probe could take up to 18 months to complete.
Irritated, McCann pointed out that the audit’s completion would be timed as the city’s 2024 election season begins to heat up, giving political fuel to his opponents.
State Sen. Jason Pizzo, the committee’s chair, shot back at McCann during the contentious hearing, saying he aims to have the audit completed quickly and it is not political.
“If somebody is screwing with you, and this is a vendetta, we’re going to find out,” said Pizzo, a Democrat from North Miami Beach. “If somebody is out to get you, I’ll get ‘em. You understand what I’m saying? If you have larceny in your heart, you’re going to hate me. If you don’t, you’re going to love me. … I’m really a fair person.”
The audit would take a look at Winter Springs’ contract with Veolia Water North America for its water and wastewater operations, and whether the city is complying with its state-issued water consumptive use permit.
It also would examine the city’s policies on public records requests, and whether officials are complying with Florida’s Sunshine Law.
The audit also would evaluate the city’s ethics and fraud policies and Winter Springs’ code of conduct.
The auditor general does not have enforcement authority, Pizzo said. Rather, it can refer its findings to the State Attorney’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or the state’s ethics committee.
In 2011, Winter Springs launched construction of a reclaimed water plant for $3.5 million. Two years later, it approved $6.3 million in upgrades to its potable water system. The city is currently replacing its aging wastewater plants at a cost of over $70 million.
Then, in 2019, Winter Springs contracted with Veolia to manage the city’s water, wastewater, stormwater and reclaimed water services after several sewage spills into water bodies and high levels of chlorine were detected in the drinking water.
“They tried to ram it through,” Brodeur said of the Veolia contract.
Winter Springs officials said at the time that Veolia is an international company with experience in managing and operating public water systems that would do a better job than the city’s short-staffed public works department.
In January 2021, a faulty valve caused up to 15,000 gallons of partially treated sewage to flow into a stormwater pond, killing hundreds of fish and causing a stink that lasted for weeks, according to the committee’s report.
The spillage led to the state’s Department of Environmental Regulation sending the city a warning letter that threatened Winter Springs with tens of thousands of dollars in fines if it did not comply with repairing its systems.
According to the state committee’s report, residents urging for the audit said city officials are underestimating the costs of replacing the water systems and are not being transparent in providing information.
Brodeur, as an example, noted that a city resident recently made a public records request regarding the costs of replacing the water treatment plant.
“He was told that it would be over $1,000 to answer his public records request,” Brodeur said to the legislative committee. “So somebody knows something, and doesn’t want anyone else to know.”
Brodeur pointed out that over the last three years, Winter Springs has lost a city manager, two police chiefs, a city clerk, two finance directors, two parks directors, two public works directors, three community development directors and two city engineers.
McCann was named mayor by Winter Springs commissioners in April 2021 after Charles Lacey, who served in that role for about a decade, resigned amid policy differences with other commissioners.
McCann was elected in the November general election, defeating candidates Mark Caruso and Brandon Morrisey.
At Thursday’s state committee hearing, McCann called the allegations “overwhelmingly, factually inaccurate” and said his city will comply with the audit.
“I am the new guy, and this is a bit overwhelming,” he said.
Jesse Phillips, president of the Winter Springs Community Association, which asked for the state probe, said in a written statement that his organization welcomed the audit and urged city officials to comply.
“The issues facing our city necessitate an independent review,” he said. “We need to stop the finger pointing and to understand how we got here and to find solutions to fix the problems affecting our health and livelihoods.”
There have recently been questions regarding street parking in Winter Springs. In order to comply with city ordinances governing on-street parking in the City of Winter Springs, this reference guide has been prepared for your use.
Winter Springs City Commission recognized several city staff and police members for their outstanding efforts before, during, and after Hurricane Ian at the City Commission meeting held on December 12, 2022. Winter Springs received unprecedented levels of rainfall in a short period, which caused severe damage to our roads, bridges, and local community homes. These employees went above and beyond to make sure key infrastructure was protected and operational, as well as protecting residents from the damage brought by the storm. As a result, Winter Springs experienced zero fatalities and has made quick efforts to restore our beautiful city. “Everyone of these folks went way beyond what we would ever ask them to do… we couldn’t stop them if we wanted”, said City Manager Shawn Boyle. The following employees worked day and night to restore our city back to normalcy as soon as possible.
Please join us in celebrating:
Andrew Cortez, Earl Williams, Michael Downing, Troy Cooper, Kendrick Miller, Al Britos, Jason Simpkins, Brian Dunigan, Kevin Maddox, Clifton Mullis, Philip Bower, Scott Johnson, Melanie Stallard, Capt. Kevin Presley, Capt. Doug Seely, Lt. Brad Heath, Lt. Keith Whitmore, Lt. Bill Mayhugh, Captain Nick Romano, Lt. Aaron Wilkins.
Florida Legislature held the fourth special session this year, during which legislators focused on three main pieces of legislation that would provide relief to Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian and Nicole. Today(12/16), Governor Desantis signed Senate Bill (SB) 4-A and SB 2-A. The following is a brief overview of the bills approved.
SB 2A- Property Insurance Reform
SB2A is the most significant property insurance reform bill in recent history. The bill aims to stabilize the residential insurance market and lower consumer costs. The bill also aims to address abuses with the assignment of benefits, frivolous litigation, and concerns about Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.
Eliminates one-way attorney fees in suits arising in residential or commercial property insurance.
Eliminates a policyholder’s ability to execute an assignment of benefit for all property insurance policies.
Reduces the time limit for providing notice of a loss to a property insurer from two years to one year for initial or reopened claims and from three years to 18 months for supplemental claims.
A new optional state reinsurance program, the Florida Optional Reinsurance Assistance, was created to address shortages in the reinsurance market. The bill also requires insurers to communicate, investigate and pay valid claims more promptly.
SB 4A packages several disaster relief efforts to aid those impacted by Hurricane Ian and Nicole. The bill provides $750 million for the communities impacted by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole, as well as:
Extends the due dates for property taxes levied in 2022 for property owners whose property was destroyed or rendered uninhabitable by Hurricane Ian or Nicole.
Authorizes property tax refunds for residential properties that were made uninhabitable for at least 30 days by either hurricane for the portion of the year that the residence was unusable.
Appropriates $350 million from the General Revenue Fund to the Division of Emergency Management (DEM) to provide the full match requirement for FEMA Public Assistance grants to local governments affected by the two hurricanes.
Appropriates $150 million from the General Revenue Fund to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation: $60 million shall be provided to local governments to assist persons with the repair or replacement of housing, relocation costs, housing reentry assistance, and insurance deductibles.
$90 million shall be used to fund the Rental Recovery Loan Program to promote the development and rehabilitation of affordable housing in affected areas.
SB 6A directs the Florida Turnpike Enterprise to establish a toll relief program effective January 1, 2023, through December 31, 2023, for all Florida toll facilities or Florida toll facility entities that use Florida-issued SunPass transponders.
Toll road users who record 35 or more qualifying transactions per transponder per calendar month will be eligible for an account credit equal to 50% of the amount paid in that calendar month for the qualifying transactions.
This would include tolls along the Central Florida Greenway SR 417 and East-West Expressway SR 408, which are prevalent routes in Central Florida.
On Monday, December 12, around 11pm; the City of Winter Springs approved a 90 day Ordinance for a Temporary Moratorium to stop development in Winter Springs.I voted NO for this unnecessary measure, which will exhaust unnecessary time, energy, resources and money. The proposed moratorium will negatively cast Winter Springs as a city “that is not open for business” and deter investors.The adoption of a moratorium is serious business. When Winter Springs set its intention to adopt a moratorium, residents were up in arms! This Moratorium does not solve the existing issues that we have with our current infrastructure; we need to prioritize maintenance, our systems have not kept up to par with the existing lift stations, stormwater ponds and clearing the creeks.The solution is simple and we don’t need 90 days to evaluate our options. The solution is to maintain and pump our current stormwater ponds, clear the creeks and evaluate our lift stations and wastewater plants vs. halting new development.
Alternative: I do believe the City should implement a system that requires developers to adhere to stricter standards for stormwater pond construction and maintenance. These regulations should go beyond the 25 year flood standards and should work to create a system that priorities regular maintenance of stormwater ponds. Developers should also be required to keep records of their maintenance practices. The City should incentivize developers to participate in regular maintenance that are proven to offer consistent and effective stormwater management.
This decision does not need 90 days! Government is already slow, why put us behind even further? We need to solve the correct problem, and not push it out to our new potential partners.
A national grocer is currently evaluating options to utilize the property behind Mobile Gas Station on SR 434, and this moratorium could potentially turn away new projects that would enhance Winter Springs; and our quality of life!
We need to be focused on Maintenance of our existing structures. That is the Solution. I ran on the platform of Pro Environment, Pro Economy. And this 90 day moratorium to halt development is unnecessary for the economic unintended consequences of this decision.
The city also gave an update on the improvements that are being done with the stormwater system design around the Town Center and the new Hickory Grove development. The update shared includes large pipe improvements which will drastically reduce the flooding in at Village Park and Michael Blake. It was also recommended by Michael Blake himself during public input that the city go back and look at the maintenance schedules originally approved for these developments and get back to maintenance schedules required. Advocacy for these types of flood prevention improvements is how we can solve the flooding problems.
Pickleball court conversation was tabled to give commissioners more time to research. Recent cost estimates have the project $250,000 over budget. Also questions remain about the number of courts. Do we really need 14 courts? Are the courts tournament compliant so that the option of future city revenue from group events is possible?
The City Manager admits water system failures of the past have forced him to rent equipment the city may need in the event of more water plant failures. Boyle admits the condition of water plants is worse than he thought. Engineers working on plant repairs say the plant has not been properly maintained for over 10 years. Boyle estimates the cost to rebuild the plants is $75M and that he has a clear path to pay for them. Yet rate study being done early next year could show that costs to replace are much higher. During public input former Commission Kevin Cannon spoke and said the previous City Manager kept him in the dark about the plant conditions. Clearly trying to distance himself from accountability.
Meeting started at 6:30 and ended at 11:30pm. Moving forward we will need to address the length of these meetings. We can accomplish this by streamlining the agenda, asking commissioners to meet with department heads prior to the meeting. These meetings should be no longer than 3 hours. When it goes for a vote to extend, it should not pass and the meeting should be over immediately. No last public input, no reports, nothing. If needed we can reconvene at a future date. This ensures the Citizens business is being done in the sunshine and not in the middle of the night.
Articles/Audio of Meeting:
Winter Springs could stop development while it studies flooding | Oviedo Community News
— Victoria Colangelo had an impressive victory over Kevin Cannon, eight-year incumbent for the Winter Springs City Commissioner District 2 seat, receiving 53% of the votes. In her campaign, Colangelo raised awareness to issues impacting residents like the Parkstone Artesian Well, water infrastructure challenges facing Winter Springs, and the maintenance of ponds and lakes. In addition, Colangelo spoke about the communications from the City of Winter Springs’ social media accounts, which limit the number of comments on their channels. “Political discourse is essential to the strength of our community, I will make myself accessible and ensure that your voices are heard,” said Victoria. Colangelo will focus on providing residents with access to information from these meetings and tackling the water infrastructure issues that have plagued the city for years.
Colangelo has an eighteen-year career in the environmental industry as the CEO of The Mitigation Banking Group, which preserves and restores wetlands across Florida. Since starting The Mitigation Banking Group, Colangelo has facilitated the collection of over $50 million from developers making investments to protect local environments. In addition, she has collaborated with numerous city and county employees, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the St. John’s River Water Management District, and other agencies in and around local politics. Colangelo has promised to make her availability known, and her goal is to be a voice for all residents and guide Winter Springs into the future, while preserving what makes Winter Springs a great place to live.
About Victoria for Winter Springs: Victoria Colangelo has lived in Winter Springs for 15 years. Colangelo is a passionate advocate about preserving our water and wetlands. She has a vision for what Winter Springs can be and the experience to preserve what makes Winter Springs a great place to live. For more information about Victoria Colangelo, please visit https://victoriaforwintersprings.com
Today I was able to visit the local Boys & Girls Club in Oviedo Florida! It was a great opportunity to celebrate Friendsgiving with the kids.
“Our mission is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.”
The location is impressive and they are trying to get more exposure since they opened around the time COVID started. They are fully open now and ready to get the word out about this amazing place. Once they get more kids and families involved, the plan is to expand the offerings.