I received this letter from Fernandina Beach resident Bob Reisner and he shared his thoughts on what he has observed in Fernandina Beach over the last couple of decades. He believes every one of the residents should voice their opinion to city leadership and explain why they should not grow government and taxes to change Fernandina Beach into something she isn’t.
The Fernandina of today is different than the Fernandina of 20+ years ago when I came here. No longer a place for middle income folks to have a second or primary home. No longer a place populated by the ‘average’ person. The island and Fernandina are ‘upscaling’ … we are on our way to be Naples or Ft Lauderdale or something like that. And the wealth of our new citizens allows the government to change.
What we are seeing is driven by two distinct but mutually reinforcing conditions.
First is the change in political management. The City Manager comes from Michigan and Connecticut, both states with expensive and expansive governments. Two relatively new Fernandina Beach commissioners come from Maryland and California, both areas also well known for expensive and expansive governments. All three clearly believe a more intrusive (“involved”) government is necessary to ‘protect’ what we have and to help Fernandina ‘transition’ to being a ‘better’ place. It is going to cost money (just like MI, CT, MD and CA). If the taxpayers find the cost too much, their feelings are “too bad” and they suggest the concerned taxpayer sell their home for high dollars and move away. That way new residents will replace by someone who appreciates the ‘improvements’ and who can afford it. Problem solved.
Second is to recognize that Fernandina government is a jobs program for locals (area not necessarily city). City government departments, Golf, Airport, Utilities, and Marina. Good pay, security, pension, medical and a nice place to work. But promotions are hard to come by. The old way was to wait for someone to eventually retire. The new way is to grow the ‘mission’, add new heads and get promoted to manager or a higher level in place because of all the ‘new’ responsibility. Very easy to do with government leaders receptive to doing ‘more’. And not really a problem since the money is now virtually unlimited.
Most of us would like to see a government that is modest and does the minimum without our having to be active in the government process (we’d just rather live our lives). So largely indifferent and slowly (maybe more quickly recently) being replaced by taxpayers who have lots of money and kind of like the new and improved, high class Fernandina.
The problem is going to go away … lots of folks will move as annual taxes double. The new folks will see the doubled taxes and remark how they are only 1/3rd of what they paid in Maryland or Connecticut.
I’m spiritually with the old guard but I’m probably an early part of this new wave (my history is NY, NJ. PA, CT and Atlanta!).
Sorry to be negative but I’ve seen this several times before in other states I’ve lived in.
This island is going to be ‘upscaled.’ — Bob Reisner, Nassau Business Funding & Services, Inc.