Nassau County financial concerns – An opinion

FOpinions_-Smaller-Cropped-300x108Submitted by Dave Edwards
Amelia Island, Florida
December 17, 2015 1:00 p.m.

Many Nassau County residents may not be aware that our county is facing dire financial straits. I’d hate to see this looming crisis lead to the insolvency of the county and downgrades of our bond rating that enables us to borrow money for long-term capital projects at favorable interest rates. If not addressed, the county will not be able to meet its financial obligations in 2017 and beyond.

That is why I’m proud to be part of the ‘Citizens for a Better Nassau County’ coalition. I care about our quality of life here too much to watch it be degraded by continued unbalanced growth – too much residential development clogging our roads and schools without the corresponding office, industrial, and commercial development needed to feed our tax base and help pay for our growing pains.

F-O-Smaller2-300x300We’re very fortunate our tourism sector has rebounded since the Great Recession. However, if we want to maintain our relatively low property taxes and a high quality of life over the long run, we need to grow smarter in the future. We need to protect and grow high-wage jobs, not just rooftops. We need private capital investment in non-residential land uses to broaden our tax base and benefit the county as a whole.

But, most importantly, if we really want to make a positive change, we need informed citizens and an intellectually honest discussion about our county’s true financial condition. ‘Citizens for a Better Nassau County’ believes informed citizens make better communities. The future prosperity and financial viability of our county is at stake. I encourage all of our residents to stay informed and engaged on these big financial issues that will affect all of us if we don’t succeed in broadening our tax base.

Editor’s Note: David Edwards is the owner of Sand Hill Recycling, LLC located in Yulee, Fla., and is a supporter of the local ‘Citizens for a Better Nassau County’ effort. Edwards
and his family have resided in Nassau County for more than 24 years.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Robert Warner
Robert Warner (@guest_46184)
8 years ago

Just what kind of “non residential land uses”? An honest discussion requires detail. The wrong kind of business is sometimes worse than no business.

Roger Horton
Roger Horton (@guest_46209)
8 years ago

Mr. Edwards made some good points but more money is not the solution. Nassau County has the same problems as Washington DC. DC by the way stands for Distribution Center. Too much Spending, wasteful practices, favorable property appraisals for special interest. Next election we have the opportunity to change the administration in Nassau County. The 2 commissioners up for re-election, Edwards and Leeper, need to go. Boatright is not seeking re-election but the establishment has put up Mr. Taylor to run for District 5. He works for the property appraiser who is a special interest sort of individual. It was Leeper that was the push behind getting rid of the volunteer stations and the volnteer firemen in Nassau County with support from Edwards, Boatright, and Holloway. Its not the amount of income but the waste of out go.

Lyn Skipper
Lyn Skipper (@guest_46270)
8 years ago
Reply to  Roger Horton

I would be interested in hearing specific examples of the county’s wasteful practices. I don’t always agree with the projects they choose to fund but I am not aware of wasteful spending practices. Also, to be fair, “volunteer” fire stations are NOT free to tax payers. That is why they were cut. They cost the county too many tax dollars with no guarantee that “volunteers” would actually respond to an emergency.

mike spino
mike spino (@guest_46210)
8 years ago

Is anybody besides me unclear as to what the author and his Citizen’s group is trying to say? And how does “office, industrial, and commercial development” not also “clog our roads?” Or is this some kind of code that we need a decoder ring to understand?

James DiAmico
James DiAmico (@guest_46223)
8 years ago

Articles like this should begin with in my opinion.

Robert Weintraub
Robert Weintraub(@rukbat23gmail-com)
8 years ago

This is all very vague. I would also want to know who is behind this and what axe they’re grinding. The comment we need more commercial establishments is confusing considering all the empty commercial space we have. And how can Nassau be in such poor financial condition when they can spend $1 million to help out one developer?

John Goshco
John Goshco (@guest_46284)
8 years ago

Mr. Edwards seems to be raising two points of discussion. 1- He believes that Nassau County’s financial statements and budget are not sustainable over the long term without (eventual) massive increases in residential property taxes. 2- Additional commercial/industrial development (with the attendant tax revenue) might defray the strain on residential taxes.

I’m not going to address the County’s financial strength. There are lots more qualified financial experts out there and I would like to hear more from you.

There’s an old truism that, over the long term, a commercial/industrial tax base brings in more tax revenue than it costs a city/county in services, while a largely residential tax base costs the city/county more in services than the tax revenue raised. Therefore, it is surmised, a properly balanced industry/residential development ratio tends to lower the tax burden on the residences.

Examples: Industry pays school taxes but does not put students in the schools. Industries and commercial enterprises pay inventory and equipment (personal property) taxes that residences do not. Local commercial businesses capture sales taxes revenues that would otherwise be generated outside the county. Commercial/industrial property is taxed at fair market value while many residences qualify for homestead, veteran and other exemptions that reduce their contribution to tax revenue.

I haven’t been able to locate any current studies to support or debunk this theory, so if anyone can reference some good sources of information, I’m sure that many of us would appreciate it.

There are, of course, additional considerations. The types and locations of developments will impact (to a greater lesser degree) traffic, noise, pollution, etc. And then, of course, if you pay/subsidize businesses to move here then you reduce the available tax revenues accordingly.