More on a Transportation District

I promised a Crestview Commissioner that I wouldn’t start a full scale commotion about my

proposal to create a North Okaloosa Transportation District for at least a couple of weeks, in

order to allow all those fine folks I talked about in my last article to present a better solution.

I’m going to keep my promise.

But I have to reply to Nathan Boyles’ critique of what he calls my “editorial” in his “newsletter.”

Actually, my article was a “scholarly presentation of irrefutable facts,” which is a label I reserve

for the words of old guys who do not hold public office. Only guys with all their hair, whom

women still think are good looking, and manage to get and stay elected, write “editorials.”

My too young and oft only partially guided friend, Nathan, argued by analogy. He said if you

build a bridge, you don’t charge only one end for the cost of the bridge when both ends benefit.

Besides, he said, it will cost a great deal to build the “bridge” for transportation between the

ends of the county, and we couldn’t think of doing that with taxes.

Nathan carries a great deal of good stuff under that completely unnecessary hat he wears. (I

point this out only because I really need mine). And I really do think he’s got the courage to do

what’s right for the people who elected him, even if it’s politically unpopular, and he has the

good sense to change his mind when he’s wrong.

The property north of the river has a total tax valuation of $4,271,206,806. There are 35,426

taxed parcels and each residential parcel has an average value of $155,500. If that property

were taxed at a 2 mill tax rate, it would raise slightly more than $8.5 million dollars per year.

That math works out to be $311 per year, per residence or about $25 month per household. A

government issued tax free bond amortized over 20 years, would produce cash in this market

of $130 million plus. (This number was provided to me by a New York bond agent who worked

with me in other deals. The County should verify the number).

Nathan and I agree that the transportation solution will be expensive. The County and City will

have to add money from several sources to make this work. But it will work, and much as

people love to hate government, only government can do this. In my view, we need to quit

puffing about Santa Claus showing up in a way that relieves all local effort. We’ve tried that for

too long.

Now finally, Nathan’s analogy that this bridge is unfair, unless paid from both ends, is

disappointing. Remember the proposal: if this is approved by the voters in the north end, it

should be repeated by the voters in the south for parking, bike paths, and road construction to

parallel or relieve Highway 98.Those numbers in the south would likely be even higher. But

more importantly, our County has mostly avoided the usual game of playing North vs. South,

which has for so many years served to release elected officials from their pledge to solve this

and other problems. That’s exactly why we’ve been able to build necessary county facilities

when some counties only talk. As examples, the south-end Commissioners did not down scale

the Crestview Courthouse, when to do so would have saved several million dollars. Nor did they

derail the TIF transportation fund which will decrease the entire County budget, but be used

only in the north. Anyone who starts to play North against South will doom both to fail. We’ve

come too far and have too far to go to defeat ourselves with that talk.

I end where I started my last “scholarly presentation;” while I cannot prove this, in my opinion

values in the north are being affected, time is being wasted, and this single purpose tax district

is surely worth more than a dollar a day. I pay all the property taxes I want to pay-some of it in

Crestview. But if you told me I could pay a reasonable amount, for this special purpose only, for

a limited period of time, I’d be interested.

Let’s start the conversation. Politely, please.