Gerry Clare, Roving Reporter
Your roving reporter met with Steve Kelly, owner of Kelley Termite and Pest Control, at the half point in his term as county commissioner to discuss a few of his concerns and priorities for the new year.
While he is “humbled that he got elected to the commission,” he is very aware that he was elected to “work for the people.” He feels that he owes his constituents complete transparency. He is also disappointed that the confidence level in elected officials is at such an all- time low, amounting almost to distrust. He feels that the public has a right to any and all information needed to understand county commission issues. If you need something, just ask him and he will do his best to get the information for you.
In regard to the most important issue facing the county this year, Kelley feels the budget needs extreme attention in every area. While it is operating at a bare bones level, peoplewise, and has some great talent, our county still spent more than we took in last year. The suspension of the impact fees alone cost the county over $4.1 million dollars. Every expense needs to be re-evaluated with regard to funding sources and priorities.
He also does not see our economy rebounding anytime soon based on projections he has graphed and the over 30% drop in property tax income over the last 5 years. The upcoming budget discussion/workshop on Wednesday, February 20th at the regular county commission meeting should be of great interest to all residents.
Second, he sees more county/city cooperation or interlocal meetings, now only held once a year, as a necessity to work more closely to control costs and duplication of efforts. Citing an example, he says just looking at gas/diesel costs for all the cities and county departments could be combined for lower prices. He again provides an example of the previous difference in costs that could have been bundled for better prices.
Third , we discussed the new sheriff’s concerns and his recent comments about needing improved facilities. Like any new expense, it has to be evaluated and needs assessment versus improving existing facilities. Kelley, looks at these decisions as he looks at his business. Every expense has to be weighed against income, utility and necessity. Having worked in the past at his company, this reporter knows that his eye is on the details and careful examination, even transparency. He has been more than generous personally to non-profits using his facilities, but even there, he knows someone has to pay in the end.
Last, I asked him about the latest tree controversy at Flash Foods and Gerbing and he admits that the county does have a tree ordinance (tree canopies on public roads) on Amelia Island, but the issue of private property is still controversial. The owners of that property proceeded within the county requirements of Growth Management, Roads Department, Planning and Zoning and submission of site approval to minimized old growth removal over the last two years.
We need to keep an eye on the budget and the coming year. You can check the Nassau County website for upcoming meetings and agendas.
January 25, 2013 11:15 a.m.