Q & A: Jason Davis, Volusia County Council, chair
Jason Davis answered the following questions via email and in person:
1) What should be done with regard to the housing market?
Our housing market is based on an assessed taxed value. Our tax collector, being an elected official, does not fall under the County Council’s control, yet Mr. Gilreath is a reasonable man, and I have worked with him on a similar issue.
I feel that the County Council and the tax appraiser can work together, with the local Realtors associations to find a very reasonable course of action to assist the homeowners of Volusia County, and possibly curtail further problems.
Of course, my platform of tax-reducing county government will go a long way to begin this very complicated process.
2) Is there room for more cuts to the county budget, or would that mean sacrificing services too much?
This is a reason for a zero-based budget. Most company owners have shown that the best way to cut down a budget is to give the managers what is really needed. Too many times a manager will start with what they had from last year (and our government is one of the biggest offenders of this process), then add in cost-of-living increases; this creates a bloated government.
With zero-based budgeting, we can reduce the cost of our county government, and still hold on to the needed services for our citizens.
3) Why should people vote for you instead of your opponent?
Unlike my opponent, I have not been elected to office before, and this is one of the greatest reasons. I was not the one that created the problems of taxation, regulation and job losses in Volusia County.
How could anyone elect the same people into office in our county, and expect them to do their job differently?
During the campaign I have constantly stated my three guidelines for any legislation that comes before me as the Volusia County Chair:
- Do we need it?
- Do we have to raise taxes for it?
- What is the long-term cost?
Addressing these three questions up front, and discussing them in open chambers, only then can we begin to reduce spending, taxes and bring the much-needed jobs and businesses back to Volusia County, to once again become the prosperous county we once were.
Following the questionnaire, we had each candidate come in for a follow-up interview. A sample of Davis’ responses is compiled below.
“To help with the housing market, we have what’s called product here in Volusia County. The product of Volusia County is Volusia County … but we have to make it appealing” for tourists and local businesses. “We have to start by reducing our property taxes in some way, shape, or form. … I am a conservative. … I don’t like taxes, I don’t like people getting taxed to death, I don’t like what every newspaper said was the second highest tax.”
When asked what cuts he would make in order to make room for tax cuts, Davis responded: “Right now, our budget is crazy. … For me to sit here and tell anybody, ‘Oh, we’re going to cut that out,’ That’s wrong. … What I can say is maybe we need to cut some of the fat out, cut back some of the excessive spending and the way we do that is with a zero-based budget. … It’s done on a case-by-case, office-by–office deal. … When the School Board has $800 million and then they need another $100 million, there’s something not right there.”
On Persis’ claims that taxes are ranked 44th in the state, much lower than the 2nd ranking that Davis claims, he explains this discrepancy: “If you look at just what Volusia County charges you … they’re 42. Unfortunately, no one in Volusia gets to pay just the Volusia County tax rate. … The councils for the last 6-8 years … (have) been raising our taxes and raising our taxes and raising our taxes. … Nothing goes through without a majority vote, so whoever voted … for that particular tax is part of the problem,” which explains, to Davis, why Carl Persis should not be elected.
Davis seems to fighting an uphill battle in this election, being an outsider with no government experience facing a current council member. He, however, believes this to be a strength. “You should tell the same thing to Frank Bruno. … He went from business, straight to … county chair.” Part of this outsider challenge on Davis is the fact that Persis has been here for 57 years, compared to the 11 by Davis. However, “my ties to this community are very, very deep. … I was the first person that walked into the neighborhood” when the tornado hit Port Orange. “Community service, I guess that’s my middle name.”
“A vote for me is a vote for a difference, somebody who’s not part of the problem, someone who’s willing to step outside the box of politics and say, ‘This is what needs to be done, and we need to make it happen,’ instead of, ‘Well, this is just the way we’ve always done it.’ … We need to start thinking a little more creatively because the problems are not going to fix themselves.”