Panel split on whether to keep Century Commission

The Century Commission for a Sustainable Florida narrowly avoided getting targeted for elimination on Monday.

The commission, whose members are named by the governor, Senate president and House speaker, was established in 2005 to issue recommendations for maintaining Florida’s quality of life as the state’s population continues to grow.

The commission now is studying the issue of offshore oil drilling and is expected to provide its research to the Legislature as it goes into session on March 2.

The Joint Legislative Sunset Review Committee voted 5-4 against recommending that the Century Commission be abolished. The action was suggested as part of a review of the Florida Department of Community Affairs.

Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Brandon and committee chairman, said the Century Commission should be abolished because she said DCA is overseeing growth management and water-management districts and utilities are planning for water needs.

But Rep. Faye Culp, R-Tampa and committee co-chair, said she looked over the commission’s annual reports and thought the state should keep the panel.

The Century Commission, whose work was praised two weeks ago by members of the House Military and Local Affairs Policy Committee, received $6,400 from the state this year, which wasn’t enough to maintain the panel’s web site, said Tim Center, commission executive director.

The commission received $450,000 from the state in 2005. The Collins Center for Public Policy this year provided more than $150,000 to support the commission and the unpaid commission members traveled to meetings at their own expense, Center said.

“The Century Commision exists to try to create a sense of vision for Florida over the long term,” said Andy McLeod, a Century Commission member and director of governmental affairs for The Trust for Public Land. “I think it is very forward-looking.”

(Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission.)