Submitted by Citizens for a Better Nassau County
February 11, 2016 7:31 a.m.
Since its launch in October 2015, ‘Citizens for a Better Nassau County’ has been educating Nassau County residents on the growing fiscal challenges and dwindling capital reserves the county is facing. The Great Recession of 2008-2013 had a profound impact on Nassau County, resulting in a decline of roughly $2 billion in real estate value and a corresponding drop of $13 million in ad valorem tax receipts to the county. While some county and community leaders have chosen to deny the facts and effectively attempted to silence public concern over this threat to Nassau County’s future prosperity, numerous third-party, credentialed sources have verified that the financial future of the county is truly heading down a troubling path.
Here they are in their own words:
“UNMET CAPITAL NEEDS: Capital needs have been pay-go funded, but allocated resources appear inadequate to meet the needs beyond 2016 … ONGOING FUND BALANCE DRAWS: Continued use of fund balance with no solid plan to address potential structural imbalance could result in negative rating action. Fitch recognizes that continuation of this downward trend (in reserves) would weaken the county’s overall financial cushion. Drawing down reserves beyond current policy minimum levels would likely lead to a ‘negative rating action.'” – Fitch Ratings, Nassau County, Fla., Rating Outlook on October 14, 2015. Fitch Ratings is a global leader in credit ratings and research.
“The county will be unable to sustain ongoing operations without reducing the reserve for minimum fund balance or achieve other solutions for sustainability. Additionally, the county will not be able to fund any capital improvements beyond the currently adopted CIP and the fleet replacement program. Without systematic investment in capital projects, assets will deteriorate and costs will increase …The crisis is real and unprecedented.” – Burton & Associates, Nassau County Board of Commissioners Meeting on July 7, 2015. Burton & Associates specializes in the provision of financial management services to local governments throughout the country, and is a recognized leader in the development of multi-year financial plans and cost recovery strategies that ensure the sustainability of services for all types of communities.
“From a fiscal standpoint reserves are the main issue. I am aware that … you have deferred quite a bit of capital maintenance on your infrastructure that is not really captured in these numbers when we are looking at them, but that’s obviously something that there is a bill to pay that is being pushed down the line a little bit.” – Ronald Whitesides, Purvis, Gray & Company, LLP, Nassau County Board of County Commissioners Chambers on March 19, 2014. Purvis, Gray & Company, LLP, provides audit, accounting and management services to governmental entities, as well as the business community and is a member of the American Institute of CPAs Governmental Audit Quality Center.
“Part of the county’s recent strategy for controlling costs has involved deferring capital spending for critical maintenance of the county’s infrastructure. A recent engineering study indicated that fully maintaining the county’s roadways would require about $6.3 million annually; the county generally spends around $1.5 million per year on roadway-related capital maintenance.” – Fitch Ratings, Nassau County, Fla., Rating Outlook on October 18, 2013.
‘Citizens for a Better Nassau County’ believes that informed citizens truly make better, stronger and more prosperous communities. As it stands today, Nassau County remains critically dependent upon residential property taxes to fund all government services. If the county’s leaders do not execute a plan to broaden and diversify the tax base through private capital investment in non-residential land uses – industrial, office and commercial – and attract high-wage jobs, the county’s looming fiscal crisis will deeply affect the entire county.
To download the ‘Citizens for a Better Nassau County’ handout on what these third-party, credential sources are saying, please visit http://bit.ly/1orVXx4.
For more information on ‘Citizens for a Better Nassau County,’ please visit CitizensforaBetterNassau.com, follow @ABetterNassau and like FB.com/CitizensforaBetterNassau.