By Alyson McCullough
6-29-22, Hilliard, Fl
More recently than ever, Americans are feeling the tingling pains of inflation. We all want to ensure that we are getting the most bang for every buck. Taxes are not excluded from this equation. I recently read an online short story of a man being taxed to his death. Tax the land, tax the groceries, tax the gas, tax his breath, tax the man to his death. We all live here in Nassau County whether we were fortunate enough to be born and raised here or stumbled upon the gem of appeal that our timber and tides bring. The true statement about both types of residents is that they feel the strain of homeowners carrying the fiscal budget of Nassau County on their shoulders.
When we look at our rapidly growing county, we look to where the almighty tax dollar goes- animal control, engineering, libraries, road and bridge department, the sheriff’s office, facilities, parks and recreation, all of the amenities and way of life residents demand but don’t want to foot the bill for. While Nassau County is able to pay its operating expenses, it has a huge backlog of capital needs with no revenue sources identified to fund them. We’re simply not able to fund the capital maintenance and replacement needs of our growing county, while maintaining an acceptable level of service for all county residents. County assets continue to deteriorate faster than the county can maintain them. Yet we keep voting for the same old same old rhetoric at the polls and put our good ole boy candidates in power to fill their pockets instead of our potholes.
While you might hear Nassau County has a fully-funded five-year CIP, that couldn’t be further from the truth. We lack political leadership willing to take risks on economic development grants to reward not only our current workforce but to grow our Nassau County High School Workforce. Taxpayers will receive the best bang for their buck investing in our future workforce. It’s time for Nassau County to join the twenty-first century and create a true countywide vocational apprentice program. Who better to invest in our future tax base than our current one?
A broader and more diverse tax base that includes commercial and industrial development will decrease the county’s dependence on residential property taxes to fund all government services, protect our quality of life and maintain our relatively low residential property taxes. A broader and more diverse tax base is also vital to the county’s ability to make necessary investments in our schools, parks, transportation infrastructure and the many other demands placed upon local government from the dramatic residential growth we’ve already experienced. Where does this workforce come from? HERE. Let’s put our money where our mouth is and invest in students aged 15-18 in a true model program of on the job training and workforce. Small businesses across the county are chomping at the bit to invest in the future of our county.
Until we can grow in a balanced way, that includes private capital investment in non-residential land uses, to meet the needs of our large and quickly growing county, our county’s stability will remain uncertain. Go visit that seemingly annoying teenager down the road. Offer them a ride to work two days a week, mentor them on balancing a checkbook. If we want Nassau County to improve, it’s up to WE THE PEOPLE, not the five commissioners and county staff.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal Florida.