Citizens for a Better Nassau
Media Release

June 13, 2016 10:00 a.m.

Citizens for Better NassauBeing a part of our Nassau County community for so long makes it that much harder to hear some of the misinformation that is being spread about the county, including the fiscal challenges that some have tried to deny and the falsehoods being disseminated about our Economic Development Grant Program.

In fact, a recent letter was penned by our clerk of the court that ran in our local papers, expressing concerns about our current Economic Development Grant Program. But, back in 2012 when the clerk was consulted during the creation of the Economic Development Grant Program, he didn’t express any concerns about the program.

Unfortunately, we are in an era where inflammatory language from politicians has
become commonplace in order to incite fear and anger, using terms, such as “super-accelerated growth” and “hyper-accelerated development.” However, neither of these expressions accurately explains how growth works, as the market is what dictates the pace of growth. With terms like these being thrown around to foment fear and anger, it is difficult for our citizens to learn the truth about the challenges we face.

Nevertheless, we should be focusing on the merits of the Economic Development Grant Ordinance, weighing the pros and cons and considering the potential that this program holds for Nassau County. The economic incentives offered to new businesses through the program are not taxpayer dollars that are being given away; rather, they are a partial rebate on new tax dollars coming in for a period of time. And, in order for businesses to qualify, they must meet rigorous requirements that include jobs and new capital investment. Specifically, the ordinance dictates that
businesses must be in a targeted industry, create at least 10 new jobs and create at least $1 million in new capital investment in the county. Economic incentives are not simply given on a promise or on a whim. They are evaluated and measured, ensuring that they are the right fit for the county.

For example, in the case of LignoTech Florida, virtually all the services for the
facility will be provided by the City of Fernandina Beach, not by the county – even the roads that will be used to access the facility will be state and city roads. Meanwhile, the county will benefit, as LignoTech Florida will be investing $110 million and bringing more than 50 high-paying jobs. Even more, the county is estimated to collect more than $1 million in tax dollars from this partnership even during the 10-year rebate period, which is only expected to increase year after year. It’s a win-win.

Any objective look at our county’s deferred maintenance, dwindling reserves and many unfunded capital needs reveals that Nassau County is not fiscally healthy. The evidence shows we are heading down a dangerous path toward a fiscal cliff.

But, there’s a way to back away from the cliff and solve the fiscal challenges that
we’re up against. Only a simple solution is needed; however, it needs to start sooner rather than later. By broadening and diversifying our tax base with office, commercial and industrial growth, as well as compact mixed-use communities that largely internalize their impacts, we can protect taxpayers and our quality of life, maintain low residential property taxes and create a community that is less dependent on residential property taxes to fund all government services.

A proper evaluation of our county’s financial health requires far more analysis than a snapshot in time encapsulated in a narrow annual audit of accounting practices. We have roads to pave and parks, buildings and other infrastructure to maintain as well. We need elected leaders that understand this and plan for the future or our fiscal outlook will grow bleaker.

Retired Nassau County Commissioner Jimmy L. Higginbotham and Retired Businessman Robert W. Spaeth are co-chairs of ‘Citizens for a Better Nassau County.’ For more information, please visit CitizensforaBetterNassau.com.

Share this story!

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
This site uses User Verification plugin to reduce spam. See how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

3 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mike Spino
Mike Spino
6 years ago

“The economic incentives offered to new businesses through the program are not taxpayer dollars that are being given away; rather, they are a partial rebate on new tax dollars coming in for a period of time. ” So they are taxpayer dollars. That’s how it works. They pay more in taxes because of their expansion and the county gives it back under the grant. You can call whatever you want but in the end they are “taxpayer dollars.” Don’t be afraid to call it that just because some in the community want to make this into a negative. The expansion is clearly beneficial to the community: more jobs, clean industry. The City believes it’s a good idea and so do many in the county. But don’t tell us that it’s not something that it clearly is.

Doug Newberry
Doug Newberry
6 years ago

“Not Taxpayer Dollars” Get Real… This is a give away of tax payer dollars plain and simple to a group of “well connected” people. Do NOT play the citizens for fools with your scheme. We are on to you and your elected cronies.

Faith Ross
Faith Ross
6 years ago

Have to agree with Doug. Taxpayers are paying. The quote is” in the case of LignoTech Florida, virtually all the services for the facility will be provided by the City of Fernandina Beach, not by the county – even the roads that will be used to access the facility will be state and city roads.” Once again Fernandina foots the bill. And who do you think the state is? And anyone who says that Fernandina and Amelia Island are ANTI DEVELOPMENT should consider the fact that according to the NCEDB ALL of the major employers of Nassau County are on Amelia Island. NONE are off the island. According to the tax appraiser’s recent figures, 63% of Nassau County’s tax revenues come from Amelia Island. And the island is only 3% of the land mass (3 x 12 mile spit of land)! I think we have met our quota . . . where is Nassau County’s contribution? Who is actually ANTI economic development is Nassau County. They have NO major employers on the main land. And if there is a hurricane and the island goes down, everyone will be out of work because economic development didn’t place any major employers on the mainland. If Nassau County had as much as half of the island’s economic development, there would be no financial crisis. Try putting economic development where it is needed, that’s where the tax incentives need to go. We have plenty, where is yours?
And as far as clean industry, why would a “clean industry” company apply for a federal Title V air permit? That EPA permit is only for facilities designated as “major sources of air pollution”. If anyone wants a copy I have one.

3
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x