City Bond Vote Dead for This Year

Charlie George and Chip Ross

By Mike Lednovich

Five months ago, Fernandina Beach city commissioners said having voters approve a $25 million bond to fund completion of the river floodwall, improvements to downtown and the demolition of Brett’s Waterway Cafe was crucial to the future of the city.

But plans to have the bond issue go before voters are dead for 2024, announced Interim City Manager Charlie George at Tuesday’s city commission meeting.

“There is no bond referendum coming in this election,” George stated in response to questions from Commissioner Chip Ross. “It’s too close to this year, we’ll go (for a vote) next year.”

The city had retained bond experts to walk them through the bond process at their visioning session last January. Also included in the $25.1 million general obligation bond package was $1.2 million to demolish the Brett’s Waterway Cafe building, $4 million for a Brett’s replacement structure and $1.2 million for marina improvements.

George said city staff are preparing a 2024-25 budget based on the property tax rollback rate, which means he said, if approved by the commission the city would have the same revenues as this year.

Ross asked about how the city would fund increased costs, “so we’re essentially revenue neutral this year, but we have a 3% increase in salaries and we’re going to add three new policemen.”

George said the city staff’s goal for the proposed budget was to focus on maintenance projects.

Ross asked if there was money being budgeted for the construction of beach walkovers that had been removed due to safety issues several years ago.

“We’re going to focus on repairing the existing that we have, handrail systems we have so it will be a maintenance project on the walkovers,” George said.

Ross also inquired about future budget transfers from the general fund to support the city’s marina operations.

“It’s likely there will be some transfers necessary with the marina, obviously we have to do that with dredging every year but we do not have a number yet because we have not resolved the marina or golf course budget as of yet,” George said.

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21 days ago

Dear Fernandina Observer Editors,
Can you please provide a little information about voting? Are mail-in ballots available and acceptable? Must you be a resident as well as a property owner? What are the deadlines for voting? I see three seats on the Board open for election and it seems you list two candidates for each? Have I got that right?

Mike Lednovich
Trusted Member
Mike Lednovich(@mike-lednovich)
21 days ago
Reply to  Robert

Robert: all of the information you are seeking can be found at:
To vote for city commission candidates you must be a resident of the city.

Trusted Member
21 days ago

Fortunately, Dr. Tax-and-Spend is soon leaving us….only, it seems, to be
replaced by Mr. Brew-Pub, who also likes spending other peoples money.

Giving these or future commissioners $25M to play with is a big ask (read risk)–glad the matter
is tabled for now.

Noble Member
20 days ago

The city commission has no business asking voters to pass a bond issue for the riverfront until they have secured all property rights necessary to build the wall in full.

Paula M
Noble Member
Paula M(@paula-m)
20 days ago

Just keep on kicking the can down the road…..

Trusted Member
20 days ago
Reply to  Paula M

There is no can.

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