State lawmakers in Miami-Dade County are questioning the wisdom of the state’s planned $1.34 billion buyout of U.S. Sugar Corp.

A press release from state Rep. Juan Zapata, R-Miami, chairman of the Miami-Dade legislative delegation, said the delegation of lawmakers has serious concerns about the expense and effectiveness of the buyout, which is designed to restore a natural flow-way of water between Lake Okeechobee and the southern Everglades.

The lawmakers announced their own public hearing, to be held at 2 p.m., Wednesday, to gather input on the sale of land to the South Florida Water Management District.

The hearing will be at the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, 3790 N.W. 21st St., in Miami.

According to the press release, Zapata sent a letter expressing concerns and inviting water district officials to brief lawmakers. The district’s governing board is set to vote on the buyout Dec. 16. U.S. Sugar’s board approved the sale contract Monday.

“Although we are all supportive of the Everglades restoration and restoring its natural flow, several members have expressed serious doubt whether this is the correct action to take at this time,” Zapata said in the release.

State Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, said in the release he has “grave concerns with the concept of an unelected board spending over $1 billion of taxpayer funds on land at a time when I’m having to tell social service, health care and education providers that we’re making major cuts that will affect our most vulnerable citizens.”

Meanwhile the U.S. Sugar board’s approval of the sale was blasted by The Lawrence Group of Tennessee, which has attempted to make a competing offer to buy the sugar giant in its entirety.

A press release from The Lawrence Group expressed “surprise and extreme disappointment at the announcement yesterday that the Board of Directors of United States Sugar Corporation had approved the contract.”

Till next time tight lines and good fishing….

From Staff and Wire Reports