Readers weigh in on local issues.
Airport runway extension is not needed
The case for the airport runway extension made by airport business CEO David Slick in the Sept. 2 edition of the Observer merits closer examination. None of the Ormond Beach Municipal Airport services he references require a longer runway. None of the referenced businesses utilize local aircraft to receive materials or ship products. That leaves only his safety argument. While longer runways are safer in theory, the existing runway length (FAA approved) has provided optimum safety over the decades for recreational and flight training aircraft.
Mr. Slick does not reveal the runway extension will allow larger, heavier, noisier aircraft including jets. The proposed extension is part of a master plan to transition to an executive airport with no public mandate to do so. Larger aircraft currently utilize longer runways at the Daytona Beach and Flagler County airports. We are not told the airport as an “economic development asset” is currently a half million dollars in debt to the city’s general fund and has been for years, with new red ink resulting from the recent closure of River Bend Golf Course ($96,000 lost annual rent). Annual airport operating costs: over $275,000. Leisure Services pays $60,000 annual rent for the recreation fields on north airport property.
Thirty-four Ormond Beach subdivisions are located within Volusia County’s 5-mile Ormond Airport Overlay District. Exponential losses to those homeowner property values would result from a larger, busier, noisier airport. Air quality would suffer with increased leaded and jet fuel emissions. Three elementary schools and a middle school are within the overlay district. The 127,000 annual airport operations currently reported by the city calculate to a takeoff or a landing every two minutes, twelve hours a day, every day of the year.
When the last runway extension proposal (of Runway 17-35) came up for a vote in 2004, a huge community turnout sent an overwhelmingly clear message to the city commission: “We do not want a larger, busier, noisier airport.” Mayor Partington and Commissioner Kent joined a 5-0 vote in 2005 to reject the extension.
Seventeen years later, that clear citizen mandate against runway extensions has not changed.
Editor's note: The city states the general fund dollars lent to the airport fund are repaid as funds become available, so the balance changes annually. These loaned dollars cover operating shortfalls and provide match dollars for grants.
Where has Ormond Beach history gone?
Ormond Beach is fast becoming a city without a past. A fire took the Ormond Garage in 1976 and its history of racing on our beach. In its place stands a bank building. The Hotel Ormond, built in 1887 by our pioneers John Anderson and Joseph Price, fell into disrepair and was demolished in 1992. In its place stands a condominium building. The Union Church, originally founded in 1883 by settlers of the New Britain colony, was demolished in 1959. The second Union Church, constructed on the same site in 1960 was recently demolished. In its place... An empty lot! The Scenic Loop drive, a beloved testament to our forested past, is fast disappearing to development.
What will set Ormond Beach apart from any other beach community? Certainly not its T-shirt shops, or its resort crowds.
We have neglected the very things that are our special legacy, that tell our special story. Those things, once gone are gone forever. Who will know their legacy? Who will tell their story? Who will understand our loss?
'It's about priorities'
I'd like to note that while I'm against government waste, I also know that there are important, needed county services and programs which cost money.
I also completely understand that people are hurting right now. So perhaps the county government should look for revenue outside of the average taxpayer. Certainly, there are people making lots of money right now off of all the massive development. Potential sources include impact fees and real estate tax on commercial Property (with a threshold/exemption for small businesses). Also, it might be worth looking into current assessment values for commercial property to make sure they’ve been updated to reflect increased market values due to zoning amendments granted to developers.
It’s about “priorities” (as mentioned by County Chair Jeff Brower). We want to make sure the County is doing all it can for our water supply and environmental sustainability.
Mary Anne Andrew
The city can go to rollback
In last week’s Ormond Beach Observer, Ormond Beach City Commissioner Dwight Selby stated: “The proposed General Fund (a.k.a. Operating Fund) for the city is $35 million. The proposed tax increase is $800,000. The city has $3.4 million in excess reserves. Cut the taxpayers some slack. Do not raise taxes. Use a quarter of the the excess reserves to fully fund the budget, and the city will still have $2.6 million in excess reserves.”
I agree with Commissioner Selby. There is no need to ask taxpayers for more of their money.
Over the last year and a half, government, at all levels, put restrictions in place that directly hurt jobs. Many people lost all or a significant amount of their income and are still feeling the impacts of the shutdowns. The federal government borrowed more money, printed out of thin air, which increases inflation. We have all felt that.
Does it make sense to further increase government’s savings account balance in excess of 40% above the set policy minimum when taxpayers are still trying to get back on their feet? Not to me.
Is 15% reserves too low? I think it is. Earlier this year I suggested raising the 15% minimum up to 17.5 or 20%. The city can go to the Rollback rate, increase reserve minimum and still have excess reserve balance. That is both fiscally responsible and the right thing to do for Ormond Beach and taxpayers.
Honing in on synergy
Civil Discourse has become much more controversial since we added Part 2: Common Ground. Most seem to think of common ground as having winners and losers, so, are not willing to take a chance on losing. This is not possible since Civil Discourse has no ultimate decision-making power. We are here to engage citizens and officials and experts in a conversation about issues of interest to the public. Therefore, we have received flack and criticism from the whole spectrum of our audience, including elected officials, environmentalists, and the business sector. Someone even told me to take a nap in the fast lane of I-95. I wrote back and asked if I had offended them since I would still like to know their opinion. No reply was forthcoming.
So to clarify what we are about, it is to find a win/win for all, which is entirely possible with a process called synergy; a group of people think together and talk together until through this process of speaking briefly and listening a solution emerges in the cross talk. It is a fairly new process for the public, and mostly used in finding business solutions. Of course, if individuals are determined to have their way, they will not see this as advantageous. It is difficult, I admit, to understand that a creative solution will emerge that no one person has thought of, but can occur in a group setting of engaged participants, or at least an agreeable next step as a way to proceed. One of the new tools we will be using is a process called pros and cons, to get both sides of an issue into the open, even without the other side in attendance. A team member will proceed to present other viewpoints, or anyone in the audience could take the opposing view as they see it.
Part 2: Common Ground means we are already on common ground and that all of life, "from the tiniest creature to the biggest developers" shares this beautiful territory we call Ormond Beach and Volusia County. We are all in charge of it and it's destiny, as are the tiniest creatures.
I have coined a new logo, "Don't hate, create!". To get info from Civil Discourse/Common Ground, email [email protected]