2010 SBA ANNUAL MEETING
February 11, 2010
My rendition of the 2009 Overview will not duplicate, in detail, information that will be covered by others. However, I will mention certain areas that will be presented later because of their importance.
Some of the most visible happenings on the Island this past year have been:
1. The most beautiful view of the inlet now that the Mariner Bay Motel (still referred to as the Old Days Inn) and, most recently, the buildings on the old “Bernstein” property have been demolished. We can see the completion of the first phase of the Inlet Linear Park from the road! Now we await the development of the new enlarged Jetty Park. Arden will take you through what we can expect later in the program.
2. The A1A project moving along. The current section is ahead of schedule! If you have driven along the completed segment from Gulfstream to Blue Heron you know how great the entire project will be when finished. I know that you have many questions such as, “When will the roundabout at Harbour Isle be completed?” “What will happen to traffic when the last section with the roundabout at Seaway and South Ocean begins? These questions and more will be covered when Tracy gives her presentation.
3. The final work on our beach parks has begun at
Bergalis and Surfside. Bergalis is closed for now but
will reopen soon.
The South Beach Association sponsored regular Flu shots at the old Firehouse in November. We started this program when it was difficult to obtain the shots. Now that they are available, literally on almost every street corner, we will not sponsor them in the future. It did give us a chance, however, to go through the old Firehouse and imagine how it could be transformed into a Community Center for the Beach when the Fire Department no longer needs the facility.
We also assisted in the annual Mustard Seed ministries Turkey Drive and the annual National Night Out.
There is a program called the Neighborhood Enhancement Action Team, or NEAT, that will be beginning soon in a section of the Beach. This program, conducted by the Fort Pierce Police Department with Fort Pierce Code Enforcement serving as the advisor will go house-to-house meeting with all homeowners and residents regarding the condition of their property and buildings. The area to be covered will be from Gulfstream on the South to Binney on the North and A1A on the East to Fernandina on the West. While we hope most are up to code, we know some, unfortunately, are not. The requirements will be explained, time given to get the work done and letters sent to all homeowners indicating their compliance or noncompliance.
Last Friday, I spent the day at the City Commission Strategic Planning Workshop. While there were many topics discussed,
some reported in the newspaper, I want to give you a brief overview of what the City and County face for next year’s budget. As you know, both receive monies from property taxes. While the economy and even the number of home sales seem to be improving, the value of property continues to decline. This is critical. The City plans to work with an estimate of a 10% decline in property tax revenue for next year and the County is using a slightly higher figure. Both the City and the County have made large cuts in their Operating Budgets over the past few years without raising taxes. Now they are faced with a dilemma – both sets of Commissioners have made statements about not wanting to raise taxes. On Friday there was discussion regarding the FPRA (Redevelopment Agency) that has funded so many of the projects we enjoy, being at the end of their monies for this year for anything new – even current funded projects will be reevaluated. With a further drop in property taxes, the FPRA will only have enough dollars to fund their debt service next year. And, since the FPRA contributes funding to the Sunrise Theater each year, as reported in the newspaper today, there was even speculation on Friday about closing down the Theater or at least scaling productions way back. The theater is a big economic engine for downtown Ft. Pierce and a cultural center for the entire Treasure Coast. Don’t think it would ever be closed – but what If? What if the Police and Sheriff’s Departments are severely cut? What if the County closes some public libraries or curtails their operation even more than they have? What if we only have trash collection once a week? Combining certain departments or trying to streamline operations even more could mean more jobs lost when we are trying to employ more people. I could go on and on with doom and gloom. I’m not really that kind of person – I prefer the glass half full to half empty. And, we all know that this is a temporary situation – property values will come back – they always do – perhaps not as fast or as high as we might wish – but we still have to weather this storm. Do be aware that there are revenues to the City other than property taxes such as, sales tax, licenses and permits, grants and the annual transfer from FPUA. However they are difficult to control. Property taxes, on the other hand, can be adjusted each year.
We will give you the opportunity tonight to give feedback to your Commissioners. I will ask you a series of questions and ask you to respond with a show of hands.
First, listen to the questions and then I’ll go one by one.
1. I am opposed to any rise in property taxes no matter what services must be cut.
2. I could support an increase in property taxes up to the roll back rate (the rate required to produce the same revenue as this year) coupled with further cuts in the Operating budgets of both the City and the County to meet other shortfalls.
3. I think that we have cut enough, raise the tax rate to cover most all of the total revenue shortfall to keep our services where they are.
Yes I know – you can think of better questions – but let’s deal with these. Now the questions one by one. Commissioners you might want to stand to see the results.
Results – Over 50% voted #2 – less than 25% each voted 1 or 3 with slightly more for #3.
Recognize this is not an official poll – nor is it from a random sample. Now you have something to discuss with your Commissioners at the end of the meeting.
You have a representative from the South Beach Association at every City and County Commission meeting, Planning Board meeting, Fort Pierce Redevelopment Agency meeting and St. Lucie County Homeowner’s Association meetings when there are issues of concern to those of us on the Beach. We communicate with you via our website, fpsba.org, and email newsletters. You communicate with us via email and telephone. Those of you who do not do email or choose not to give us your email address do miss out. For the first time this year, we will be posting the business cards for our business members on our website. We urge you to support our business members.