Florida Senate - 2015                                     SB 670
       By Senator Bullard
       39-00665A-15                                           2015670__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to pet services and advocacy programs;
    3         creating part VII of chapter 125, F.S.; authorizing
    4         counties to create independent special districts and,
    5         if approved by referendum, levy ad valorem taxes to
    6         provide funding for pet services and advocacy
    7         programs; creating a Pets’ Trust council; providing
    8         for council membership, powers, and functions;
    9         providing that certain nonbinding straw ballots
   10         satisfy referendum requirements; providing for
   11         expiration of the programs; providing an effective
   12         date.
   14  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   16         Section 1. Part VII of chapter 125, Florida Statutes,
   17  consisting of section 125.98, is created to read:
   18                              PART VII                             
   19                 PET SERVICES AND ADVOCACY PROGRAMS                
   20         125.98 Pet services and advocacy programs; independent
   21  special district; Pets’ Trust councils.-
   22         (1) This section may be cited as the “Pets’ Trust Act.”
   23         (2)(a) Each county may, by ordinance, create an independent
   24  special district, as defined in ss. 189.012(3) and
   25  200.001(8)(e), to provide funding for pet services and advocacy
   26  programs throughout the county pursuant to this section. The
   27  ordinance constitutes the charter of the special district and
   28  may be amended in the same manner as any other ordinance. The
   29  boundaries of the district shall be coterminous with the
   30  boundaries of the county.
   31         (b) The county commission shall obtain approval at
   32  referendum to annually levy ad valorem taxes, not to exceed the
   33  maximum millage rate authorized by this section. A district
   34  created pursuant to this subsection shall levy and fix millage
   35  pursuant to s. 200.065.
   36         (c) Once such millage is approved by the electors, the
   37  district shall seek approval of the electors every 4 years to
   38  levy the previously approved millage. District elections shall
   39  be conducted pursuant to s. 189.04.
   40         (3)(a) The governing board of the district shall be a
   41  council on pet services and advocacy programs, which shall be
   42  known as the Pets’ Trust of the county in which the council is
   43  located. The council shall be established by the county
   44  commission and shall consist of 14 members appointed by the
   45  commission, as follows:
   46         1. The director of animal services for the county, who
   47  shall serve as a nonvoting member.
   48         2. The director of the county humane society or a
   49  representative from a rescue shelter located in the county.
   50         3. Three members from nonprofit animal rescue groups.
   51         4. Two animal advocates.
   52         5. Two veterinarians practicing in the county.
   53         6. One certified public accountant practicing in the
   54  county.
   55         7. One attorney practicing in the county.
   56         8. Three distinguished community activists.
   57         (b) Members shall be appointed for 2-year terms, except
   58  that the initial terms of the community activist members shall
   59  be adjusted to stagger the terms. Council members must be
   60  residents of the county in which the council is located for a
   61  period of at least 24 months before appointment to the council.
   62  The council may remove a member for cause by majority vote or
   63  upon the written petition of the county commission.
   64         (4)(a) The council shall have the following powers and
   65  duties:
   66         1. To allocate funds to nonprofit or municipal
   67  organizations in good financial standing that will deliver the
   68  services listed in this paragraph in such a way as to create the
   69  greatest impact on the animal overpopulation crisis in the
   70  county; improve animal care in the county; provide veterinary
   71  medical care for pets with low-income owners; implement pet
   72  education, surrender prevention, and adoption programs; and
   73  address the prevention of animal cruelty. Each council shall
   74  develop an application process for the organizations eligible to
   75  provide services within the county.
   76         2. To lease real estate and buy equipment and personal
   77  property as needed to execute the powers and duties under this
   78  paragraph, provided such leases and purchases are only paid for
   79  with cash on hand or secured by funds deposited in financial
   80  institutions. This subparagraph does not authorize a district to
   81  issue bonds of any nature or to require the imposition of a bond
   82  by the county commission.
   83         3. To collect information and statistical data that will
   84  assist the council and the county in deciding the needs of
   85  animals in the county.
   86         4. To allocate an amount not to exceed 5 percent of the
   87  revenue generated to employ, compensate, and provide benefits
   88  for part-time or full-time personnel needed to execute the
   89  powers and duties listed in this paragraph, including office
   90  space for such personnel and associated administrative costs.
   91         5. To fund spay and neuter programs, including the
   92  provision of spay and neuter services by existing community and
   93  private providers and building additional spay and neuter
   94  facilities that are targeted specifically at low-income pet
   95  owners, as measured by the poverty index of the county in which
   96  the council is located, pet owners in high shelter-intake areas,
   97  and pet owners of community animals that are adopted out,
   98  transferred, or released in any way by the county animal
   99  shelter. Each program shall include a sliding scale of fees for
  100  spay and neuter services based on the ability of the pet owner
  101  to pay for such services. The maximum fee for spay and neuter
  102  services shall be comparable to the average fee charged by
  103  veterinarians in the county that the program serves. At least 60
  104  percent but not more than 70 percent of the council’s revenue
  105  must be used for the types of spay and neuter programs listed in
  106  this subparagraph in each of the first 3 years of the council’s
  107  existence, or until shelter deaths reach one-half the volume of
  108  the current state average, whichever period is longer.
  109  Additionally, the council shall allocate a portion of the
  110  remaining revenue to pet retention, surrender prevention,
  111  adoption, and animal welfare education programs for both
  112  children and adults. The council shall decide how the revenue is
  113  allocated to most significantly impact the animal overpopulation
  114  problem in the community and to address the root causes of
  115  animal abuse and abandonment. If the current animal welfare and
  116  spay and neuter organizations in the county are unable to
  117  provide all services that may be funded during any one year,
  118  revenues may be rolled over and used by the council in the
  119  following year.
  120         6. To allocate up to 5 percent of the revenue to assist
  121  rescue groups that specialize in the transport, impound, and
  122  care of victims of large animal cruelty and neglect each year.
  123         7. To ensure that all pets adopted from or sent to a rescue
  124  partner from an animal shelter are sterilized, if medically
  125  feasible, pursuant to the time periods specified in chapter 823.
  126         8. To ensure that funds are allocated only to those
  127  organizations providing services in the county served by the
  128  council.
  129         9. To allocate the appropriate budget line item for a
  130  professional audit each year to ensure effectiveness and
  131  transparency and to gain the trust of the community.
  132         10. To allocate a portion not to exceed 2 percent of the
  133  revenue for public relations, including notifying the public of
  134  locations and services provided. Allocations in this
  135  subparagraph may not be used for political purposes, including,
  136  but not limited to, get-out-the-vote efforts.
  137         (b) Each council shall:
  138         1. Immediately after the members are appointed, elect a
  139  chair and a vice chair from among its members, and elect other
  140  officers as deemed necessary by the council.
  141         2. Immediately after the members are appointed and the
  142  officers are elected, hire a staff to identify and assess the
  143  needs of the pets in the county served by the council. Staff
  144  shall receive reasonable compensation, which may vary by county.
  145  Compensation for lobbyists hired to represent a council shall be
  146  capped at $50,000 annually. Staff shall submit to the county
  147  commission a written description of:
  148         a. The activities, services, and opportunities that will be
  149  provided to pets.
  150         b. The anticipated schedule for providing such activities,
  151  services, and opportunities.
  152         c. The manner in which pets will be served, including a
  153  description of arrangements and agreements that will be made
  154  with community organizations.
  155         d. The manner in which the council will seek and provide
  156  funding for unmet needs.
  157         e. The strategy that will be used for interagency
  158  coordination to maximize existing human and fiscal resources and
  159  reduce the duplication of services.
  160         3. Provide training and orientation to all new members
  161  sufficient to allow them to perform their duties.
  162         4. Adopt bylaws, rules, and regulations for the council’s
  163  guidance, operation, governance, and maintenance, provided such
  164  bylaws, rules, and regulations are consistent with applicable
  165  federal or state laws or county ordinances.
  166         5. Provide a biannual written report, to be presented no
  167  later than January 1 and July 1 of each year, to the county
  168  commission. The report shall contain, but is not limited to, the
  169  following information:
  170         a. Information on the effectiveness of activities,
  171  services, and programs offered by the council, including the
  172  cost-effectiveness of such activities, services, and programs.
  173         b. A detailed, anticipated budget for continuation of
  174  activities, services, and programs offered by the council.
  175         c. A description of the degree to which the council’s
  176  objectives and activities are consistent with the goals of this
  177  section.
  178         (c) The council shall comply with the meetings, notice, and
  179  reporting requirements contained in ss. 189.08, 189.015, and
  180  189.016; the compliance reporting required under part III of
  181  chapter 218; and the provisions of part III of chapter 112, the
  182  Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees.
  183         (d) Members of the council shall serve without compensation
  184  but are entitled to receive reimbursement for per diem and
  185  travel expenses consistent with the provisions of s. 112.061.
  186         (5)(a) The fiscal year of the district shall be the same as
  187  that of the county.
  188         (b) On or before July 1 of each year, the council shall
  189  prepare a tentative annual written budget of the district’s
  190  expected income and expenditures, including a contingency fund.
  191  The council shall, in addition, compute a proposed millage rate
  192  within the voter-approved cap necessary to fund the tentative
  193  budget and, before adopting a final budget, comply with the
  194  provisions of s. 200.065, relating to the method of fixing
  195  millage, and shall fix the final millage rate by resolution of
  196  the council. The adopted budget and final millage rate shall be
  197  certified and delivered to the county commission as soon as
  198  possible after the council’s adoption of the final budget and
  199  millage rate pursuant to chapter 200. Included in each certified
  200  budget shall be the millage rate, adopted by resolution of the
  201  council, necessary to be applied to raise the funds budgeted for
  202  district operations and expenditures. In no circumstances,
  203  however, shall a district levy millage to exceed a maximum of
  204  0.10 mills of assessed valuation of all properties within the
  205  county that are subject to ad valorem county taxes.
  206         (c) The budget of the district so certified and delivered
  207  to the county commission is not subject to change or
  208  modification by the county commission or another authority.
  209         (d) All tax money collected under this section, as soon
  210  after the collection thereof as is reasonably practicable, shall
  211  be paid directly to the council by the tax collector of the
  212  county, or the clerk of the circuit court if the clerk collects
  213  delinquent taxes.
  214         (e)1. All moneys received by the council shall be deposited
  215  in qualified public depositories, as defined in s. 280.02, with
  216  separate and distinguishable accounts established specifically
  217  for the council and shall be withdrawn only by checks signed by
  218  the chair of the council and countersigned by a chief executive
  219  officer who shall be so authorized by the council.
  220         2. Upon entering the duties of office, the chair and the
  221  chief executive officer who signs its checks shall each give a
  222  surety bond in the sum of $1,000, which bond must be conditioned
  223  that each of them shall faithfully discharge the duties of
  224  office. The premium on said bond may be paid by the special
  225  district as part of the expense of the council.
  226         3. Funds of the district may only be expended by check as
  227  provided in subparagraph 1., except expenditures may be made
  228  from a petty cash account but may not at any time exceed $100.
  229  All expenditures from petty cash shall be recorded in the books
  230  and records of the council. Funds of the district, except
  231  expenditures from petty cash, may only be expended with prior
  232  approval of and budgeting by the council.
  233         (f) Within 10 business days, excluding legal holidays,
  234  after the expiration of each quarter annual period, the council
  235  shall prepare and file with the county commission a financial
  236  report that includes the following:
  237         1. The total expenditures of the council for the quarter
  238  annual period.
  239         2. The total receipts of the council during the quarter
  240  annual period.
  241         3. A statement of the funds the council has on hand, has
  242  invested, or has deposited with qualified public depositories at
  243  the end of the quarter annual period.
  244         4. The total administrative costs of the council for the
  245  quarter annual period.
  246         (6) A district created pursuant to this section may be
  247  dissolved pursuant to s. 189.072. If a district is dissolved,
  248  the title to all property owned by the district is transferred
  249  to the local general-purpose government, which shall also assume
  250  all indebtedness of the preexisting special district in
  251  accordance with s. 189.076.
  252         (7) Notwithstanding paragraph (2)(b), a nonbinding straw
  253  ballot approved by the electors of a county within 5 years
  254  before the effective date of this section, to the extent that
  255  the straw ballot expressed the support of the electors for a
  256  levy of ad valorem taxes to fund animal services programs, is
  257  deemed to be approval for purposes of this section of the levy
  258  of ad valorem taxes not to exceed the millage rate proposed in
  259  the straw ballot or the maximum millage rate authorized by this
  260  section, whichever is less.
  261         (8) This section expires July 1, 2020.
  262         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2015.