IssuesGrowth - Our current growth rate is not sustainable. Over the last 5 years, growth in Marion County has exploded.
We have a runaway development train racing down the tracks at breakneck speed, leaving destruction in its wake. We are enabling and empowering developers to destroy our natural resources and our way of life that we love so much.
From massive warehouses to new subdivisions, we are growing like never before. Growth is a great thing - if done right.If growth outstrips services, it causes many issues that cannot be dealt with effectively or quickly. I believe in balanced growth.
Impact Fees - Did you know you that taxpayers are subsidizing development here? Impact fees are one-time charges on new construction to help pay for the infrastructure — roads, schools, law enforcement, parks, - that growth necessitates. The unfunded portion of the impact fee is paid for by the taxpayers. We currently need about 1 billion dollars to provide the infrastructure needs to accommodate developments already approved. Where is that money coming from?
If we do not have the financial resources to accommodate current approvals, why are we racing headlong into approving more? The time for reviewing the true costs of development and increasing our impact fees is long past due. We need to negotiate offset agreements, set aside funds for needed improvements and get our fiscal house in order.
My solution is:
- To update our impact fees and make developers pay for the need they create in the community.
Farmland Preservation - Marion County is known as the Horse Capital of the World. The Farmland Preservation Area is the crown jewel of our county. It consists of 193,000 acres and was created in 2005 to protect the valuable unique soil, our water, and our spring recharge basins. Our valuable soil is ideal for raising horses and is found in only four places in the world. Our equine industry contributes 2.32 billion to our local economy. The natural beauty of Marion County and our springs makes it a tourist destination and is also a major economic driver of our economy.
The FPA is an irreplaceable resource and is under continuous pressure of development. We need the courage, commitment, and conviction to preserve and protect this resource. This should be our promise to future generations.
My solution is:
- Keep growth in the Urban Growth Boundary which is the size of Boston.
- Development within the FPA must follow the Comprehensive Plan.
Attracting the right businesses - Ocala is the Horse Capital of the World, but we are not supporting our equestrians. Instead of warehouses, gas stations, and fast-food restaurants, we should be attracting equine related businesses that support our brand. It would be to our benefit to support our most valuable economic driver and we should enhance our county with industries that do.
My Solution is:
- Work with the CEP to identify appropriate businesses that can be attracted so that there are quality high paying jobs
- Attract business who offer training programs
- Attract business that support our farms and farmers
Our Comprehensive Plan - A failure to plan is a plan to fail. Comprehensive planning should be a way to manage growth in a business- like way that protects and preserves the things we care about. It does so with predictable reliable and consistent policies. It is a great way to minimize the demand of taxpayer money.
We need a business analysis of the cost and benefits of growth that any other business would require.
I see our commissioners going against professional staff recommendations far too often. What happens when the county ignores their own growth services recommendations? How can weakening growth management protections possibly benefit the county, our economy, or the taxpayers? There is no longer a strong and reliable framework to develop cost- effective planning for community services
My Solution is:
- Follow the advice of our planning/legal experts
- Do not set precedents that cannot be defended in court
- I strongly support growth in appropriate areas outlined in our Comprehensive Plan
Turnpikes/Transportation - I see no useful purpose for one. FDOT should be concentrating its efforts on I75 upgrades before a turnpike to nowhere is considered. Truckers will not pay to get to Chiefland, the road to Chiefland is barely used, and disturbing our farmland preservation area for a billionaire boondoggle that adds nothing to the county is not wise for many reasons -it will attract more transients, more crime, and causes a decrease in our quality of life and quite possibly endanger our resources.
The Comprehensive plan does the not support the construction of major highways in the Farmland Preservation area. Our roads are in need of improvements - most of them are rate E on a scale from A to E. Traffic safety needs to be addressed immediately.
My solution is
- To get FDOT to expand/improve I-75.
- To see our rail system utilized more and developed into a multi county pedestrian friendly transit system.
- To see a drone port built to accommodate the future of Transportation.
- To see Marion County get a proper airport.