CONTINUING AND NEW THREATS – WHAT’S AT STAKE?
I have had an unusual role on our Commission for the past 16 years.
I have been your taxpayer watchdog, your sentinel chicken, your canary
in the coal mine. In critical votes to increase our county budgets,
increase our employees’ salaries and benefits, increase residential
densities, expand urban services outside our Urban Services Boundary,
and degrade the protections of our award-winning Comprehensive Plan, my
vote has consistently been the lone vote of opposition. I believe in
conservation, in all things.
More than ever, we must be very careful with our tax dollars. That will
include reining in
our payrolls, insurance costs, benefits, and consultant services.
The departments whose budgets have exploded the most in the past decade
must participate in these reductions. Public safety is our biggest
expense. 70% of your property taxes are spent on the sheriff and
emergency services. The sheriff’s budget ballooned 107% in the past
decade. The emergency services’ budget skyrocketed 157%.
We must remain vigilant in order to safeguard the protections we take
for granted here. Our four story height limit, our livable communities,
our low residential densities, our low taxes, and the diligent
protection of our natural resources are not guaranteed rights. Martin
County residents point to the protections afforded by our Comprehensive
Plan and tell us that the flamboyant overdevelopment that has happened
in south Florida can’t happen here. That is simply not so. Thirty short
years ago, Palm Beach County was beautiful. Forty years ago, Miami Dade
and Broward counties were naturally lovely. Until commissioners there
changed their Comprehensive Plans in order to allow that overdevelopment
and degradation that characterize their counties now.
We now call it pay to play. Landowners and their hired lawyers, land
planners, and engineers contribute mightily to campaign treasuries of
county commissioners in order to influence the outcome of critical votes
on changes to the Comprehensive Plans. In the past two decades, those special
development interests have found a very compliant majority Commission in
All of these changes will harm existing residents. They’re all Urban
Service Boundary busters. They will make it impossible to reasonably and
conservatively plan for our future. If you allow all kinds of
development anywhere in your county, how on Earth can you plan for
logical and timely extension of infrastructure?