Fernandina Beach News-Leader (May 11 Edition, Page 7A)
The county’s irrational aversion to debt financing of long-lived capital projects has resulted in negative consequences for taxpayers and our quality of life, and it must end. This repeated mistake has cost our community. It has been clear for a long time Nassau County does not follow best practices in government finance when it comes to its capital budget, despite the advice of a government finance expert, who in 2007 conducted an economic sustainability study.
To start, our area is the fifth fastest-growing county in a rapidly growing state, and the county’s lack of employing best practices has resulted in a massive capital deficit in funding for an array of infrastructure needed for a county that has experienced this type of growth for decades. The great myth here is that the need for infrastructure is only a recent phenomenon due to our population increase. However, the lack of roads, parks and other infrastructure west of Amelia Island has existed for more than 20 years and predates the recent population increases and the widening of State Road 200. Yet, we paid cash for the new sheriff’s complex and emergency operations center, public school projects and roads, and we continue to avoid general obligation bonds for capital expenditures all the way through a historically low interest rate environment.