Citizens for a Better Nassau
Submitted by Philip Griffin
January 11, 2016 10:00 a.m.
While many folks might see recent new housing as a sign of a healthy economy, there is an underlying fiscal crisis looming with our local government. The simple fact is that Nassau County has evolved into a bedroom community, where folks sleep at night and send their kids to school here while they work and shop in nearby counties. The result is that taxes do not support the cost of services that people expect and deserve.
Maintaining county roads, providing decent fire and police protection, providing quality schools and maintaining basic social services all cost money. With a tax base limited to residential ad valorem, much of it homesteaded or exempt, we simply cannot fund essential services. “Just say No” and other clichés will not solve the basic math problem. We need to balance our economy with homegrown jobs and create commercial activity that will pay taxes to subsidize the residential tax base.
A group of concerned residents of Nassau County launched an education effort, ‘Citizens for a Better Nassau County,’ which I strongly support. We started this effort as a way to educate fellow community members on the troubling fiscal status of the county and to outline guiding principles to prevent it from hitting rock bottom.
In order maintain a healthy government we need the balance of residential, commercial, office and industrial development. The best way for Nassau County to achieve long-term financial sustainability is through balanced growth and economic development that broadens the tax base and creates new high-quality, high-wage jobs that benefit the county as a whole.
Currently, Nassau County is still borrowing from its reserves so we, as taxpayers, have not yet seen or felt the effects of this crisis. However, should we not take action now to prevent the financial crisis that is on the horizon, rest assured, we will feel it in our wallets. If you have not done so already, I ask that you visit CitizensforaBetterNassau.com to learn more about the effort and the county.
Editor’s Note” Philip Griffin and his wife, Janet, have resided in Fernandina Beach, Fla., since 2001. They have owned and operated Amelia Coastal Realty since 2005.
For information on Burton & Associates report, visit “A disturbing view’ Nassau County Commissioners gaze at fiscal cliff” by Adam Kaufman.
Then why don’t you become an advocate for bringing jobs to the Island ?
I’m waiting for an actual analysis that supports the notion that “With a tax base limited to residential ad valorem, much of it homesteaded or exempt, we simply cannot fund essential services. ” This idea has been floated several times by this so-called citizens group but no evidence has been provided to support the assertion. These folks point to the county budget situation and claim that it is because we have too much residential. It may be true but it has not been demonstrated. How does Nassau county’s tax base compare to similar counties? What’s the percentage share for each sector? On the surface Nassau looks a lot like St. John’s county and we don’t hear this argument from them. I’m waiting for the proof. What does this group really want? No one has articulated their goals in any coherent fashion.
It’s a commonly known and accepted fact that residential units use more county-provided services than businesses. Essentially, residents as a group do not pay enough taxes to cover the services they use. Businesses pay more taxes than their services cost. Look at Clay County – too many residential units, not enough commerce. St. Johns County just finished passing a referendum to add to their sales tax for school construction. Nassau County has been lucky that its residential growth has not been as great as in other areas… yet. We still have the opportunity to double up on our efforts to attract business and industry to our area, which will help offset residential growth. Although the economic development board has worked for many years to attract business and industry to Nassau County, it’s been hard because of a number of factors. However, we can’t continue to rely on small businesses and the tourist industry to provide the balance we need economically. Currently, over half our Nassau County work force leaves the county every day to go to work. They also take their money with them, often spending it in the area where they work for gas, goods and services. Wouldn’t it be nice to keep that revenue here? If we’re smart, we will support efforts of those who are trying to shore us up, economically speaking. This definitely includes attracting business and industry to Nassau County.
Sorry Sharyl, but it’s not a commonly known “and accepted fact that residential units use more county-provided services than businesses.” Frankly it sounds like you folks are making stuff up. Show us some evidence, analysis or data to support your position and that Nassau county meets these parameters.
Gives a little info. Not specific to Nassau
Again, take a look what has happened in Clay County. They are suffering mightily because they are almost totally residential with little business and industry.