Improving Walton County

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by Danny Glidewell, Aug 11, 2017.

  1. Danny Glidewell

    Danny Glidewell Beach Fanatic

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    10 Steps for a Better Walton County

    1 Base our development codes and decisions on common sense and what is in the best interests of all citizens by protecting the property rights of those already working and living here as well as those seeking to develop our area;

    2. Concentrate on bringing anchor developments into Freeport, DeFuniak Springs, Mossy Head and Paxton to attract other businesses that provide high-paying jobs for our young people;

    3. Insure that all government functions are efficient and that our tax dollars are used to improve the lives of all our citizens while keeping our overall tax structure is as low as possible;

    4. Fully fund the revenue mechanisms already in place to bring our infrastructure up-to-date and prepare us for the future;

    5. Expand preservation of our historical heritage and insure the protection of our beautiful natural resources;

    6. Open our government to citizen input and involvement while encouraging the ideal that government is created to serve its citizens;

    7. Return the emphasis of our marketing to high-end, family oriented tourism that brings in more income while increasing safety and enjoyment, both in our homes and on our roadways;

    8. Empower our employees to improve services to the citizens and increase the incentives for highly-qualified individuals to come to work for us while encouraging our quality, experienced workforce to continue their service;

    9. Acquire new areas for preservation and recreation and construct playing fields, pools, parks, facilities and nature preserves to insure our citizens have wholesome activities to participate in and that our descendants can also enjoy the beauty that drew so many of our citizens to this area;

    10. Make sure that our efforts draw citizens throughout the county closer together and promote the idea that we are One Walton.
     
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  2. John G

    John G Beach Fanatic

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    11. Stop local government corruption.
     
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  3. FactorFiction

    FactorFiction Beach Lover

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    Danny, which voting district are you in?
     
  4. Danny Glidewell

    Danny Glidewell Beach Fanatic

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    District 2.
     
  5. FloridaBeachBum

    FloridaBeachBum Beach Lover

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    Danny, good goals or steps and you have to start somewhere but these are like World Peace. If you want change, it is the How? that matters. How would you or a county do all this?

    “Base our development codes and decisions on common sense and what is in the best interests of all citizens by protecting the property rights…”? That’s great but whose "common sense"? Which “best interest” for all citizens? There are some interest that the majority are for but are against individual rights. For example you have made it clear you are for customary take of private property; which Walton can claimed on any private property, bayfront property, hunting areas, not just beachfront. If the interest benefits the Walton economy; is that sufficient to usurp individual rights with County legislative and police powers then expect tax payers to pay for the court costs for the courts to decide?

    For 3. how about no taxes that can not support safety, security, sanitation, education (maybe that should be privatized), or make a business case that county interests is a good return on tax payer's investment. For 7. the TDC for example. Who benefits from the millions of tax payer (doesn’t matter that the tax payer is local or not) pays for marketing? Restaurants? Lodging? Beach vendors? If marketing is so important to these businesses let them pay for the high end marketing and put the $20,000,000 taxes back in the economy where it will create more jobs than the TDC ever could IMO.

    For 8. "Empower our employees..." Didn’t Walton settle with Hal Laird, Walton Planning Department, for hundreds of thousands of dollars in a wrongful termination case. Can’t find the details but read it somewhere.

    For 10. “… draw citizens throughout the county closer together …” How? Maybe start with transparency and JohnG's suggestion.

    A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step ... but you have to know how to get there.
     
  6. Bob Wells

    Bob Wells Beach Fanatic

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    So you don't think the TDC helps create jobs? The advertising of Walton in general and South Walton in particular brings tourist who require services from restaurants, grocery stores, hotels and the like. Some of the tourist who came to visit decided to buy and build which created jobs in the business of construction. I am not a big fan of corporate welfare, tax breaks for companies to move here but those folks who come here and rent are paying for the TDC. Maybe it is to much, I don't know but it does seem to provide jobs for our citizens and whether I can prove it or not does seem to help our economy.
     
  7. Danny Glidewell

    Danny Glidewell Beach Fanatic

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    Change starts with principles FloridaBeachBum. These are principles to guide decisions and should be applied to the hard decisions we make as a county. As you say, the journey starts with a single step but if you do not have a destination in mind, you will forever be lost.
    As to your specific points:
    *Common sense in development is to approve projects that meet the code without variances and provide the storm water and parking the project requires. Available infrastructure, especially roadways, must also be considered when figuring allowable density and making sure the project is compatible with the existing neighborhoods is a must. I do not believe in taking people's property. The theory behind customary use is that the white sand area along the shoreline has been used by the public so long that an easement has been granted. That issue will be decided in the courts and there is nothing now that anyone but a court can do about deciding which theory is correct.
    *I too believe that government should be limited and that we should strive to get a return on our investment as any business does.
    *The TDC is an important part of the equation for Walton County. Those tax dollars provide many amenities that could not be provided otherwise such as beach accesses, lifeguards, beach cleanup and yes advertising. Where I think we need to go is to return to emphasizing high-end business instead of the bring anyone and everyone down approach. Our businesses will make more money per customer and the lifestyle and enjoyment of our citizens will be impacted less. Tourism provides a large percentage of the jobs in this area and many of the amenities our citizens enjoy could not be possible without tourist dollars. It is simply a question of what business we seek and making sure the infrastructure is in place to handle those we invite to visit our area. But the point about private dollars generating more economic activity is a valid one and the TDC tax should only be collected at a level that allows needed services to be provided. Anything else should be returned to the private sector.
    *One constant complaint, especially around planning issues and public works is that things are not being done or are being done incorrectly. I believe this is a product of political interference or pressure and that our employees are knowledgeable and competent enough to do their jobs correctly and efficiently if those interfering will stop and the political pressure removed. We cannot change the past but we can learn and improve and employee relations is one area this should occur in.
    *This is solved very simply by recognizing to old truths: "A rising tide floats all boats" and "What is good for the North is good for the South and vice versa." When one area is prospering and happy that helps us all. The level of discontent in the South currently hurts us all because little attention is given to improving or growing the North. Freeport is growing faster percentage wise than just about anywhere in the county and gets very little attention because the county has done such a poor job managing growth in the South that those issues take all the available time at every county meeting. We need to fix the issues in the South as much as possible ASAP and start looking to keep Freeport from being in the same boat. Plus move the North forward finally. It is a big job but as you point out, it starts with taking small steps.
    ABOVE ALL, going back to #6 is to LISTEN to your fellow citizens and learn. I have been wrong in the past and will be wrong in the future, but I try and learn from my mistakes and correct my positions if necessary. I have learned a great deal in the last 7 months serving on the Planning Commission and have always learned from my service with the County Fair, the Taxpayer's Association and the Teacher's Credit Union. Not to mention my 25+ years of service in this county as a law enforcement officer. You will never learn or improve isolating yourself or only listening to one side or group.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
  8. sunspotbaby

    sunspotbaby SoWal Insider

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    Can we mow?
     
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  9. Sun Chaser

    Sun Chaser Beach Lover

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    Sidewalks and/or multi-use bike paths on North/South roads in SoWal, including Holiday Road, 393, 83...what else? This needs to happen ASAP.
     
  10. FloridaBeachBum

    FloridaBeachBum Beach Lover

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    Bob, no the I don’t think the TDC creates $20,000,000 worth of jobs or is a good investment of tax payers dollars. Public works is better qualified can manage the physical beach. “The advertising of Walton in general and South Walton in particular brings tourist who require services from restaurants, grocery stores, hotels and the like.” Then let those businesses pay for the marketing. “… I don't know but it does seem to provide jobs for our citizens and whether I can prove it or not [it] does seem to help our economy.” You are going to base taxing $20,000,000 on – it seems to help the local businesses? A tax is compulsory taking of peoples earnings and hard work by the Government.

    How many of those tourist would come without TDC marketing? Most all IMO. Even before the TDC marketing. You don’t have to market the beach or the developers and business that benefit from it would market the beaches. The TDC knows about how many came to the area but you have no idea/data how many would have come without the $20,000,000 TDC. The TDC knows how many “eyes” went to the web page and how much bed tax they paid. My guess is there would have been no significant difference if there was no TDC. And my guess is as good as the TDC, yours, and Danny’s because there is no data that I’ve ever seen. Heck Walton can’t handle the number of cars and people now. The BCC has to resort to customary take (which is NOT an easement as Danny states) because most of the legal scholars I’ve read think a prescriptive easement would likely fail (like it did for the 225 sq ft of beach in Tona Rama) and an implied easement wouldn’t stand a chance either. All the BCC have left to get something for nothing is customary take. All the BCC has to risk is (all) Walton taxpayers million$ to litigate it. How many customary use claims have prevailed since 1974 that was not over turned by the courts? Maybe Walton will be the first.

    If the marketing would bring a return for local businesses they will fund the marketing.
    I concur with Danny there is enough demand and a limited supply for the beach, about 75% privately owned to the MHWL, that Walton should be the Hamptons of south, not be the red-neck Rivera. Where we disagree is that you can’t take private property rights and property value (the right of private use) from the minority because the majority demand it (in America) or based on some opinion of economic gain for the majority to the detriment of the private property owner’s who risked their investment, pay their exorbitant property taxes, and dreams of beachfront ownership only to be taken by the BCC by decree.
     
  11. Danny Glidewell

    Danny Glidewell Beach Fanatic

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    Visitors spent $1,937,607,700 in 2015 in Walton County including almost $500,000,000 on accommodations alone. Additionally, Tourism is the number one industry in Walton County; 19,600 jobs were attributed to direct spending from visitors to Walton County in 2015, and another 4,150 jobs were attributable to the induced and indirect effects of visitors’ spending. These figures account for over $560,000,000 in wages to our workforce. $ 20,000,000 is a small price to pay for that level of economic activity. If cutting these funds resulted in even a 1% decrease in spending or wages, the results would be awful. And remember these are 2015 numbers. The economy is better now than then.
    It is clear that you do not favor customary use but I assume you favor the county (TDC) purchasing as much beachfront as possible and developing all the beach accesses that we have land available for? Those expenditures of tax dollars help the tourism industry, locals who do not own beachfront and beachfront owners who wish their beach to be private. Enough public ownership reduces the demand on the private parcels I am sure you will agree.
     
  12. FloridaBeachBum

    FloridaBeachBum Beach Lover

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    Danny, do you have any data that there is a correlation, a cause and effect, between TDC $20,000,000 and tourism? My opinion is that there is no correlation and that tourist will come without TDC marketing. We are equal on opinions. If there is a correlation let the businesses who benefit from marketing pay for it. I am sure you agree that if there is a correlation businesses will invest their own money.

    “If cutting these funds resulted in even a 1% decrease in spending or wages, the results would be awful.” you and the BCC do not have clue what decrease (1%?) county GDP, if any, would occur. The county GDP may increase when you keep that $20,000,000 in the tourist's pockets and let the free market work. Plus why is the Government marking for private businesses?

    Why would you tax people’s hard earned money for the BCC/TDC to spend with NO evidence that it has any return on investment? Why, because the BCC/TDC is a Government entity with no annual accountability, like a business, all the BCC have to do is raise taxes for more revenue to market and litigate. That’s not how businesses work. The business owner own money is at risk. Where is TDC business plan, results, and return on investment? Governments should stick to taxing for safety, security, and sanitation and leave the rest for the businesses where the free market will hold accountable with either a profit or losses.

    You know what they say about assumptions … I won't assume you know anything about what I'm in favor of in regards to BCC tax and spend.
    Why do you/BCC need to purchase any beachfront with customary take? I’m sure you will agree; even if you taxed ($7,430,000 for 100 feet for Dune Allen) and purchased 50% of the beach, public ownership would not reduce the encroachment/demand on private property next to public property unless law enforcement protects private property rights (including the private use and enjoyment) and - it is clear you do not favor private property rights owners had before April 2017.

    Danny, you have good intentions but Government is not the answer except to regulate and enforce public beach activities and you do not need $20,000,000 TDC to do that.
     
  13. Danny Glidewell

    Danny Glidewell Beach Fanatic

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    I am not a big fan of taxes period. And while I know what assuming will get you ;) I still must assume that advertising has some impact on the number of visitors. You would need polling or surveys to quantify that. However, lets assume ( there's that word again) that we cut all advertising and reduce the taxes accordingly. We still need lifeguards, beach cleanup, code enforcement, beach access acquisition and maintenance and a dozen other things the TDC provides. You mentioned Public Works providing these services. If that happened, then the funds would come from the General Fund (property taxes) and either other services would be cut or taxes would increase. You must have a TDC to collect bed taxes.
    We do not agree on customary use because I remember beaches being open to everyone since my childhood which was certainly before April of 2017. But I also want to do what is in the best interests of everyone and I would rather use money to acquire beachfront than to use those funds to pay attorney fees. I cannot see how public accesses, properly designed and maintained, would not act to keep the vast majority of beach users off the privately held beaches and on public beaches. Unless the private owners build public accesses the public will go where it is convenient to go.
    Are you for more public accesses? Are you for purchasing public beaches and building accesses?
     

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