FERNANDINA BEACH WEATHER

Thoughts on Nassau County’s finances “. . .Taxpayers deserve better”

Submitted by Greg Lane
December 3, 2015  5:05 p.m.

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I’m deeply concerned that some of our county leaders appear to only have heard what they want to hear from the Burton & Associates audit [Click here to read  ‘A Disturbing View’ Nassau County gazes at fiscal cliff] of the county’s financial condition. Equally concerning, it confounds me how, despite the audit presented to the county commission in July 2015, many of our community news outlets have not covered the real problem at hand. Nassau County citizens and taxpayers deserve better.

In a nutshell, the Great Recession from 2008 to 2013 drove down the value of
property in the county, which resulted in a hit to the county budget of
approximately $13 million. This is significant for a county with a total annual
budget of slightly more than $169 million. But, that’s only the beginning. Because
our county is over-reliant on residential taxes to fund all government services and
the “Save our Homes” amendment to the Florida Constitution requires that homesteaded
residential property taxes can only increase by 3% per year or the Consumer Price
Index (CPI) – whichever is lower – the county has had to essentially play catch up
and dip into reserves and capital improvement funds until values and taxes reach
their prior levels.

F-O-Smaller2-300x300Simply put, we cannot cut our way to financial prosperity and continue to dip into
county reserves to balance budgets. We must position the county for smart, economic growth, private capital investment and high-wage, high-quality job creation that benefits the county as a whole, as well as broaden and diversify our tax base in
order to decrease the county’s dependence on residential property taxes to fund all
government services.

We cannot afford to sit on our laurels as our county faces a financial crisis. All
of us who pay property taxes here and have a long-term stake need to understand
these issues. We ask that you join the discussion by engaging your friends and
neighbors in a transparent dialogue about our county’s fiscal health.

Editor’s Note: Gregory R. Lane is the owner of Gregory R. Lane General Contractors located in Fernandina Beach, Fla., and is a supporter of the local ‘Citizens for a Better Nassau County’ effort. Lane has resided in Nassau County for 28 years.

 

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