The Pasco County Commission has selected Van Scoyoc Associates, of Washington D.C., to be the county’s federal lobbyist.
Commissioners considered proposals submitted by Van Scoyoc Associates and Gray Robinson — with each commissioner scoring the proposals individually. When the scores were tallied, Van Scoyoc received the higher mark.
In approving the selection of Van Scoyoc Associates Inc., commissioners also authorized County Administrator Dan Biles to execute a contract with the firm in an amount not to exceed $90,000 for fiscal year 2021.
Commissioner Mike Moore wasn’t sold on the idea of hiring either firm — not because of their capabilities, but because he’s not convinced that having a federal lobbyist is the best expenditure of the taxpayer’s money.
“I still have concerns seeing what our lack of return on investment was last time,” Moore said.
“I know there are earmarks — that the current president has added earmarks again, so there’s possibility of getting things. I just want to make sure that we’re going to get the best return on our investment for our citizens.”
He asked his commission colleagues: “Do you guys honestly feel that it’s worth us making this hire?”
When she advocated for the county to hire both a state and a federal lobbyist last fall, Commissioner Kathryn Starkey argued the investment would bring dividends back to the county.
She hasn’t changed her mind.
“I chair the federal committee at Florida Association of Counties, and I’ve interacted with other counties’ federal lobbyists and heard all of the things they’ve done for other counties,” she said.
“There are counties in the state that have multiple federal lobbyists,” Starkey added.
Such lobbyists can be valuable on federal issues, such as dredging, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps and transportation, Starkey said.
“There’s all kinds of ways — if we learned how to engage better, we could be effective in advocacy for things that are good for our county,” Starkey said.
But Moore said that wasn’t the case with the county’s last federal lobbyist.
“I don’t think we saw one dollar. We didn’t get anything. Let’s be honest. We got nothing,” Moore said.
Starkey responded: “I don’t think we utilized the resource as much as we could have, and I think that part is our fault. I think we need to learn how to use the resource better.”
Commissioner Jack Mariano agreed with Starkey.
“I think it’s very worthwhile,” Mariano said, noting he believes having a federal lobbyist is more important than having a state lobbyist.
He also noted that in this case, patience is a virtue.
“To invest in this, it can’t be a one-year deal. It takes time,” Mariano said. “It’s going to take a commitment for a few years, to get something back.”
Published May 05, 2021