FASD© Programs and Benefits
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
The Association serves as the Department of Economic Opportunity’s primary education and training arm. The purpose of the education program is to ensure that elected boards and district managers comply with the Florida Statutes governing special districts. Core subjects for elected officials and staff are presented at the Annual Conference in June and at the more informal member meetings held around the state.
The Association conducts an active legislative program using the services of Lewis, Longman & Walker, PA, as lobbyist for the Association before the Florida Legislature. Lewis Longman & Walker, PA is the leading authority in Florida on special districts. A specific agenda of legislative issues is developed through a series of membership meetings and communicated to the lobbyist as the Legislative Agenda of the Association. The Association sponsors the Legislative Forum to bring members to Tallahassee to participate in the legislative process. Members are briefed about issues of concern and provided the opportunity to go the Capitol and meet with Legislators. During the Legislative Session, the Association hosts a reception to honor the members of the Legislature and give the Association members an opportunity to discuss their specific issues in a more relaxed atmosphere.
The Association hosts membership meetings at different locations around the state. A program of interest is conducted followed by a luncheon where members can network and discuss common interests. Newsletters are published three times a year to share information among members and to keep members informed. The Association maintains an active Internet website at www.fasd.com, which includes the members’ only section.
The primary benefit of any association is strength in numbers. A voice of many is always stronger than a voice of one. FASD© prides itself in its openness among its members not only on a professional level but on a personal level. This translates to an atmosphere of communication and support not only for the district as a member but also for each individual under that membership.
The most crucial benefit would be the lobbying efforts of Lewis, Longman & Walker. Over the years they have covered legislation that ranged from state employee benefits and insurance issues to the total abolishment of special districts. Terry Lewis is the Association’s lead lobbyist and has been with it since its creation. He understands the needs of special districts and has the historical knowledge to not only create beneficial legislation but to also identify damaging agendas and amendments that could undermine the mission of special districts. Lewis, Longman & Walker tracked over 50 bills in the House and Senate this year. This benefit is graciously provided by the Association for all special districts in Florida since legislators do not differentiate between member and nonmember districts when passing legislation. Joining the Association will help minimize the cost of these lobbying efforts and will provide a better opportunity to ensure your district’s interests are followed throughout the legislative process.
Networking with people of similar responsibilities and concerns is an integral part of any association. Most crises confronting special districts have already been dealt with, in some fashion, by another district. The association has several very active members who have been involved in special district management for decades and collectively have a historical knowledge base that cannot be matched outside of the association. All of the association functions are centered on education for the members and networking with these members to provide opportunities to solve individual issues.
The Association also has an associate member level to include companies that provide equipment and services to special districts. Representatives from these companies are at our meetings throughout the year to provide one-on-one opportunities to explain their services and prices, helping to eliminate hours of research by district staff when looking for a particular service or item. Additionally, member districts often exchange bid documents or “piggy-back” other bids with other members saving valuable resources while complying with governmental procurement procedures.
Positive public perception and knowledge of special districts is crucial to their existence. The Association provides information to the media, local and state government entities, legislators and the general public that promotes special districts in a positive manner. If a district has an issue to deal with, it can gain immediate support from the Association, lending credibility to its cause. Through its web site, lobbying efforts, newsletters and phone contact from its office in Tallahassee, the Association has the ability to tackle any issue before it becomes a threat to special districts as a whole.
Membership also provides savings in registration fees for member meetings, the Legislative Forum, the Annual Conference and the CDM Program. We are in the process of developing member discounts from associate members to benefit and promote business opportunities between district members and associate members.
To meet the requirements of Ch. 189, FS, the Association provides educational opportunities at all of their member meetings, the Legislative Forum and the Annual Conference. Member meetings are conducted around the state to give member districts the opportunity to send several of their board members and staff without incurring excessive travel expenses. Associates from law firms, CPA firms, and government agencies are brought in to give presentations on procedures, requirements and best methods that affect all special districts, regardless of their service.
The Association prides itself in providing an atmosphere that promotes friendship and conversation on a professional and personal level. Several lasting friendships have been created through the Association that extend beyond the hours of a meeting or a conference. The Association tries to keep the member meetings casual by including a relaxed luncheon that promotes conversation beyond the realm of special districts. Several meetings have a golf outing tied to it that allows another avenue for members to exchange ideas and experiences they face in their districts and to get acquainted with their associates on a personal level.