And the state of our cities is strong, says new Florida municipal report

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Florida metro areas are showing steady growth after several years of stagnation, according to a report released today by the Florida League of Cities Center for Municipal Research and Innovation.

This “State of the Cities” report, using data from the Florida League of Cities’ 2013 CityStats Survey, focuses on trends and key issues related to municipal governments in Florida. Ninety percent of Florida municipalities responded to the Survey, providing a comprehensive look at the current status of Florida’s cities in such areas as employment and economy, public safety, services and utilities, and budgets.

The report finds that trends in budget, economic development, and employment rates indicate that cities are rebounding from the economic recession. Contributing to — and furthering — these trends, almost 60 percent of Florida municipalities offer economic development incentives to encourage business growth. The most common efforts include expedited permitting and favorable land development regulations, which have led to more than 750,000 building permits being issued between 2010 and 2012.

“Florida boasts some of the best cities in the nation and it should come as no surprise that our state has rebounded so effectively after the difficulties of recent economic challenges,” said Florida League of Cities President P.C. Wu. “With this increased growth comes an increased responsibility to focus on evaluating and improving the services our cities provide.”

Most Florida cities boast parks (81%), water services (69%), and police (66%), and fire services (54%), for citizens, and some are adding features such as employee health clinics and charter schools.

Florida’s population of more than 19 million people is evenly divided between those who live in cities, towns or villages and those who live in unincorporated areas. The populations of these cities vary greatly, from more than 800,000 residents in Jacksonville to fewer than 10 in Weeki Wachee.

Between 2011 and 2013, Florida metro areas saw population growth at an average rate of 3 percent.  The four largest population increases in metropolitan areas were recorded by Miami (+13,341), Jacksonville (+10,955), Tampa (+9,241) and Orlando (+8,437).

Cape Coral, Fort Lauderdale, Miramar, Fort Myers, St. Petersburg, and Kissimmee also saw sizeable population growth.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.