+ Don Upton successfully facilitated Economic Summit
Selecting Don Upton as our facilitator and consultant was a great choice. His level of expertise and respect in the economic development field, along with his prior track record, was evident throughout our first three days of the Economic Summit.
We now have a foundation to move forward, finalize our strategic plan, and formulate our execution plan for a great future for all Flagler County residents.
One more thing: We have a new Flagler County fan in Don Upton, with a tremendous network to let others know just how good we are, and how great our future is about to become.
Garry R. Lubi
Executive vice chair, Fagler County Chamber of Commerce & Affiliates
+ City staff was helpful, appears eager to stimulate economy
Editor’s Note: This letter was also sent to the Palm Coast City Council.
I am disturbed by the recent bad press the city of Palm Coast has received for its planning and zoning department. I visited this office at 4:30 p.m. on a Tuesday, fully expecting them to push me out the door because it was almost closing time.
I was pleasantly surprised at the great service given to me by Jackie Gonzalez, of the planning department. She went above and beyond to assist me in answering questions about some properties I am interested in.
I was also impressed by Ray Tyner, with the planning department. Mr. Tyner promptly returned my calls. He also offered to have someone sit down and help with preliminary plans for properties.
I feel this department is eager to help stimulate the local economy by making it easier to grow a business in Palm Coast.
Dr. Erik J. Olson
+ Cut budgets by removing chiefs, not the Indians
If the School Board members are so sorry for loss of the 42 teaching positions and the $512,000 taken away from existing teachers’ payroll, let’s remove all School Board members and replace them with qualified volunteers. (Where is the Parent Teacher Association?)
The School Board is a part-time position. Why are the members not paid at an hourly rate, in lieu of a yearly salary with benefits?
There are many other nonproductive county and city positions that can be eliminated if their officials get out of their offices and see what is going on. The trend used to reduce spending is removing the Indians and keep the chiefs. It should be the other way around.
+ Education cuts do not represent ‘the American way’
Fortunately for those two men at the airport in Brian McMillan’s March 17 opinion column (“Budget cuts and the American way), they still had credit cards that weren’t canceled. Otherwise they would have been stuck with the rest of the crowd at the airport.
Unfortunately, school boards can’t pay for children’s education with AMEX or Visa; they rely on public funding.
With our nation’s students’ rankings in science and math falling rapidly in a global economy, Flagler elementary schools now have to terminate remedial classes for kids who need them most. That’s not the American way.
To me, America is a place where children’s hopes are raise, not pulled out from under them. When budget cutting becomes necessary, education should be exempted from the process because it is the building blocks for our nation’s future. It should not be put into the mix with, say, grass cutting and tree pruning of public property, which is certainly done in abundance.
Given the choice of greening of Florida or the growing of children’s minds, it’s no contest. By the way, I am not now nor have I ever been a school teacher.
Editor’s Note: To address your point, let’s say they walked home, instead. That way they didn’t have to spend any money.
My point was that if we spend our time complaining and blaming others, we’ll never get anything done. Let’s be creative and find ways to do more with less money. Even at school.
I agree with you that education should be maintained at as high a level as possible. I have two children in the school system.
But is there no fat in the budget?
NEIGHBORHOOD STABILIZATION PROGRAM: THE CITY RESPONDS
In response to the letter, “Recent criticism of family unfair,” dated March 17:
The writer states that this program “doesn’t cost Florida or Palm Coast one thin dime,” and ends his letter by writing it’s “not costing the city or the taxpayers.”
My question to this fellow is where does he think the money come from if not from the taxpayers? Does someone go to a money tree and pick it?
My comments do not have anything to do with the original letter that he is addressing. I am only commenting on his parochial mindset where he thinks that entitlement programs only benefit the recipients and no one else is affected.
When someone gets, someone gives. And when someone gets something for nothing, albeit a great and worthy endeavor, someone else is paying for it.
Editor’s Note: In response to the recent letters about the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, the city of Palm Coast has supplied a list of facts about the program:
-NSP was part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, signed into law in August 2008, by President George W. Bush.
-NSP is funded through federal tax dollars collected nationwide. NSP does not require any local match of city or county tax dollars.
-Florida has been historically low compared to other states in the number of federal tax dollars collected versus the number of federal tax dollars expended in Florida.
-NSP funding was granted to local governments through a funding formula that was heavily weighted toward areas with high foreclosure rates.
-There is no doubt that Florida and Palm Coast are hot spots for foreclosures, with one in every 232 homes in foreclosure, in Flagler County.
-Any funding that was not accepted by local governments was reallocated to other local governments.
-The decision that the city of Palm Coast was faced with was whether to accept the NSP funding. A community meeting was held Feb. 29, 2009, to discuss the issue.
While there were differences of opinion, the majority agreed the program would benefit our community, and we would rather have federal tax dollars spent here, rather then far away places, such as California and Arizona.
-The discussion of whether NSP is a worth-while federal program to address the foreclosure issue is best directed at those that made that decision: Congress and the president.
-Locally, NSP has taken 20 homes out of bank ownership, renovated those homes, raised their value and thus, hopefully, comparable values in the neighborhoods, and at the same time put local real estate agents, title agents and contractors to work.