Osceola County’s W192 Development Authority voted Thursday to earmark more than a third of its $5.6 million budget next year to swap out the purple streetlights that have helped define the tourism corridor streetscape for decades.
The authority board agreed to allocate $2.1 million of its Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenue for new, streamlined, black LED lights. Executive Director Christina Morris first raised the issue of streetlight replacement a few months ago after learning that the existing light fixtures had been discontinued. The cost of repainting the lights every two years also was a financial drain for the agency.
The board selected the slim pole and rectangular shaped light fixture to provide a consistent look throughout the 11-mile corridor and to simplify and modernize the streetscape. The authority already replaced the purple pedestrian lights with black LED versions.
Morris said the authority could have paid for the lights with its MSBU non-ad valorem assessment, but it would have cost property owners an average of $200 to $300 on their tax bill.
“I’m just not comfortable raising taxes on business owners,” board member Mary Ellen Kerber said.
The light replacement would be the largest capital expenditure in the proposed 2020 budget, which now goes to the Board of County Commissioners for approval. Other big-ticket items include:
$900,000 for sign grants. Morris said the funding will go to reimburse business owners who already replaced their signs in fiscal 2019.
$500,000 for design services to bury utility lines on W192
$500,000 for design of a pedestrian bridge in sub-district 2 (near Margaritaville) for construction in 2021
$250,000 to design the subdistrict 2 streetscape plan for installation in 2021
The development authority consultants are putting the finishing touches on the proposed design guidelines for the eight subdistricts and will present the recommended ordinance to the board at its July meeting. Morris said they are on schedule to bring the guidelines to the Board of County Commissioners in August. The authority would earmark $2.2 million in 2021 to install the new streetscape, based on the approved design guidelines, in subdistrict 2.