New DCA secretary says he doesn’t have marching orders on agency’s future

Department of Community Affairs Secretary Billy Buzzett told reporters on Tuesday during his first day on the job that he had been given no specific orders by his boss, Gov. Rick Scott, as to the future of the agency. Buzzett attended a meeting of the Senate Community Affairs Committee but he did not address the panel.

The transition team for Gov. Rick Scott in December recommended merging DCA with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Department of Transportation into a new “Department of Growth Leadership.”

Buzzett, who served on the transition team, has said his sub-group looking at DCA didn’t make the merger recommendation. He told reporters after the committee meeting that he had not been given any direction from the governor on what would happen to his agency.

“I think it’s really important that we just kind of pause and see where we’ve been,” Buzzett said. “My point is it’s premature for me to tell you where we are actually going to go because I don’t know. And really, the policy-makers will make that decision.”

Buzzett also said he had no position yet on growth management reform legislation. But he said he was interested in presentations by the Florida League of Cities and the Florida Association of Counties at the committee meeting.

The League supports revamping DCA to remove paperwork demands and scrutiny by cities of urban infill requirements, said Rebecca O’Hara, the League’s general counsel. Cities, she said, need help updating their land-development codes to encourage new projects.

“We believe it is time to limit the state’s involvement in local government comprehensive planning to matters of technical assistance and resolving inter-local disputes and intergovernmental coordination,” she said.

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