This article appeared in the NE Florida Daily News. Found it very educational. I plan to attend one of the meetings to learn more about this process. GUEST COLUMN: It's time for us to incorporate the Navarre area September 12, 4:22 PM 2 0 0 0 By NANCY FORESTER Over the years I’ve seen many changes in Navarre, some that would not have been my choice. As it is, only one person is charged with representing the 42,000 residents of the Navarre area. One county commissioner out of five speaks for us. It’s time to incorporate — to be our own voice. Joseph Mazurkiewicz Jr., president of BJM Consulting Inc. and one of only three people in Florida qualified to complete an independent, unbiased incorporation feasibility study, was hired. The completed study was presented to the county commissioners in Milton on Aug. 4. A copy is available at www.incnavarrenow.org. Please note that the first 25 pages consist of comments (pro and con) by Navarre residents prior to the study’s completion. The facts were not yet available. The actual feasibility study begins on Page 26. The city of Navarre’s borders would be the Santa Rosa-Okaloosa county line on the east, East Bay and East River on the north, Edgewood Road on the west and Santa Rosa Island and Navarre Beach on the south. Santa Rosa County estimates the permanent population for the area proposed for incorporation is currently 42,300. The potential increase in taxes has been a concern for many. The feasibility study’s five-year projection has shown that “using the same property tax rate currently being paid by Navarre property owners will develop a reserve over the first five years.” The study also provides a second option for consideration. Decisions on these options would be determined by our City Council. Other concerns are current services such as law enforcement, water, fire protection, trash, sewer and schools. All would continue the same as they are now throughout the county. In fact, there would be options for additional law enforcement officers and firefighters. Many towns now use this practice, as it eliminates the expense of purchasing land, buildings, patrol cars, firetrucks, etc. Flooding is a major concern in Navarre because we don’t have a stormwater management plan. This must be corrected prior to allowing more building. The county has not met our needs. Many local roads are still dirt. The Navarre area sends $2 million more to the county than value received back. That money could be put toward correcting flooding issues or used to build a community center offering activities for residents (families, children, teens, veterans and senior citizens). Incorporation would give us a greater local/regional influence on transportation and road issues, provide solid representation in Tallahassee and make us eligible for state and federal grants only afforded cities. We have too often missed out on large sums of money. If incorporated, we, too, would be eligible for this funding. Incorporation would make us the largest city between Pensacola and Tallahassee. Some are concerned this would be another layer of government. I find that to be an asset! Our government would be made up of local citizens who would be able to approve building and development plans and control zoning and community planning. We can be in charge of our destiny. It’s time to gain control of the millions of dollars we pay in taxes and fees. Our money needs to work for Navarre’s benefit. Local government can influence how our city grows and develops. Mazurkiewicz will present the feasibility study twice — on Sept. 15 and Sept. 16 at the Navarre Conference Center at 6:30 p.m. I urge all Navarre residents to attend one of these town hall meetings to ask questions and learn the facts. Then vote in the nonbinding straw vote on Nov. 4. Nancy Forester is a retired manager from Blue Cross Blue Shield, a community volunteer and a resident of Navarre.