Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Fernandina Beach’s Price Gouging Has Become An Art Form; Joe Biden’s “Lying Dog-Faced Pony Soldier” Is A Local Gal

If you were shopping locally for a new car and found two identical models that met all your specifications at dealerships directly across the street from each other where would you buy the car?

Chip & Dale’s car lot

Would you purchase the one on Mike & Taco’s Nassau County lot for $37,876 – which Kelley Blue Book says is the average price paid for a new car in 2020 – or the same one on Chip and Dale’s Fernandina Beach lot for $215,893.20?

Or how about Mike & Taco’s store that sells a case of beer for $21 as opposed to Chip & Dale’s across the street where it goes for $119.70, or a NY strip steak selling at Mike & Taco’s for $6.99 a pound and  $119.70 per pound at Chip & Dale’s?

Chip (Ross) & Dale’s (Martin) Fernandina prices are 5.7 time higher than Mike (Mullin) & Taco’s (Pope) just across the street in Nassau County. Sound outrageous? That’s because it is. How can an enterprise with absurdly high prices stay in business? Only if it can legally force its customers to shop there.

Fernandina Beach city hall’s fiscal mismanagement is a prime example of turning price gouging into an art form. And its resident customers have no other options.

How bad is it hereabouts? It’s worse than bad, it’s criminal.

Two well-respected locals – one a contractor, the other an engineer – teamed up to provide an analysis of the city’s permitting and building fee extortion racket, one of the most financially out of control functions in the city.

Using publicly available data they compared building permits for both the City of Fernandina Beach and Nassau County jurisdictions for commercial and residential markets.

Both gentlemen who operate businesses in the city prefer to remain anonymous at this point as the city has a well-deserved reputation for taking retaliatory actions against folks who attempt to expose its fiscal malfeasance. Like my friend and Nassau County developer, investor and attorney Pat Keogh says: “The city of Fernandina Beach operates like a criminal enterprise.”

The most eye-popping fee comparison was the commercial example using data for a hotel being constructed at Main Beach. The duo analyzed permits by the City of Fernandina Beach Building Department and compared its fee schedule with the Nassau County Building Department as if the same identical hotel were being built there.

All of this information is publicly available for anyone wishing to take the time and effort to dig through it and piece it together.

They looked at the fees that were charged by the City of Fernandina Beach versus what would have been charged in Nassau County. They only looked at review/surcharge fees since other impact fees are highly variable. Site/Tree removal was also not considered so it wouldn’t complicate the analysis. The engineer got his data directly from the county building department for the analysis. It took four days to properly estimate it.

Here’s a breakdown of fees charged by the City of Fernandina Beach for the hotel: Building Plan Review Fee: $114,469.00;Fire Marshall Review: $103,022.10;Permit Base Fee:  $228,938.00; DPBR Fee: $5,151.10; DCA Surcharge: $3,434.07; Zoning Review Fee: $100.00;  Total:  $455,114.27

The exact same fee schedule as calculated by the county including Base Permit Fee/Plan Review Fee/ Fire Review/Engineering Review/Site Plan Review Fee/DCA Fee/DPBR Fee, totaled: $80,160.81.

Yes, you read that correctly. The City of Fernandina Beach charges $374,953.46 more in fees than Nassau County charges for the exact same project. That’s 5.7 times more in fees than what Nassau County would charge.

Th duo also contacted a local residential builder and compared fees for the exact same house, one in Fernandina Beach (Shell Cove) and the other in the county (Enclave). The houses are 2,227 square feet, about the middle of the market.

Here’s what they found:

City of Fernandina Beach: Building Permit:  $2,082.00; DCA Surcharge: $31.23; Zoning/Plan Review: $50.00; Driveway Permit: $35.00’; Building Permit Const. Plan Review: $1,041.00; DBPR Surcharge: $46.85; Address assignment: $10.00; Admin Fee: $343.53.  Total Fees (excluding impact fees): $2,952.55

Nassau County: Building Permit Fee: $964.00; PRP Plan Review Fee: $327.76; DBPR Permit Surcharge: $19.38; DCA Permit Surcharge: $12.92;Zoning Site Review: $63.00; Total Fees (excluding impact fees): $1,387.06

The City of Fernandina Beach  charges $1,565.49 more in fees than Nassau County charges for the same project. The numbers weren’t as dramatic as the commercial fees but 2.1 times the amount charged by the county for the same identical project is still outrageous.

Maybe $1,565.49 seems insignificant compared to the commercial project but since the City of Fernandina Beach permits hundreds of houses every year like this, the aggregate overcharging of review fees equates to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

However, the total permit fee for this residential structure, including impacts fees, was $15,748.71 for Fernandina Beach and $9,621.66 for Nassau County, an astounding $6,127.05 more. Utility Connection fees were not included.

Would you buy a used car from Tweedlee Ross and Tweedlee Martin?

It’s obvious that our elected commissioners do not expect City Manager Dale Martin to run the city in a business-like and transparent manner.

With the possible exceptions of Len Kreger and Mike Lednovich the other three commissioners are clueless and wouldn’t know a P&L spreadsheet from an A&P receipt.

Martin’s lacky and unofficial city spokesman, Commissioner Chip Ross, has even boasted in local media that “government is not like business” and babbled on about social support programs funded and delivered by the federal government (SSA, Medicare, FEMA, etc.). This is total nonsense at the local level where it’s all about services delivered and the associated costs.

Permitting and review fees are nothing but taxes with another name as they take money out of the tax payer’s pockets to pay for government provided services. It’s a shell game.

This detailed permitting and fee analysis is solid evidence that Nassau County can review and inspect per the Florida Building Code and Florida Fire Prevention Code at a much lower rate and in most cases with much higher quality and faster turnaround times than the City of Fernandina Beach.

It’s also obvious the city is not capable of providing review and inspection services at a fair and reasonable price and it should be outsourced to the county. There’s no need for the City of Fernandina Beach to have its own building department.

Why would the county marry this dog?

So how can it be fixed? It takes two to say, “I do” and at this point the county and city are barely on speaking terms. Why would the county want to take on such a thankless task for a partner it can’t stand and mismanages everything it touches? Maybe a shotgun wedding is in order. The County can’t be forced unless the city were to petition for dissolution or unless the City invited a proposal to outsource services….which again requires the County to agree to provide the service. Maybe there’s some other provider?

How about we get that to be a special referendum and let We the People decide?


Vote Forward: This coming election has on the local ballot a number of Fernandina Beach City Commission candidates who think things are fine the way they are hereabouts. They oppose any change as bad and selfishly assert that the city must close its doors to anything new. They would change the City Charter and the Comprehensive Plan to prevent new ideas. They encourage the current outrageous permitting rules and fees that discourage any advancement making it impossible to take advantage of new opportunities.

Those supporting the screaming, fist-shaking, out-of-town sign wavers in CAN, ATC, Strong Amelia, and such are slowly strangling the city.

My on-the-ground close-to-the action source who knows more than most in these parts says: “That would be harsh and grossly unfair if not for the extremes to which these individuals and groups are willing to go—infringing on other’s rights to have their way without compromise. Zealotry is not reasonable.”

He says “reasonable people must make their voices heard at the ballot box on November 3 and ensure that the power and control exerted by this danger to the city’s future is held in check. Common sense must prevail for our future well-being.”

And common sense for the city are votes for Bradley Bean and David Sturges, two men who understand finances, fairness and are life-long residents of the community. Unfortunately, Chip Ross’s opponent is so far out of the mainstream he left earth’s orbit so I’m holding my nose and voting for the devil I know…Ross. If Bean and Sturges are elected they’ll combine with Lednovich and Kreger to box in Ross and Martin, and move the city forward in a financially sane and fair direction.


Madison Moore with the microphone.

The “Lying Dog-Faced Pony Soldier” Lives Here: Is Joe Biden’s “lying dog-faced pony soldier” from Nassau County?

Ken Timmerman, local author, Epoch Times columnist and political pundit, alerted me that the young woman branded a “lying dog-faced pony soldier” by Joe Biden in early February has been identified by both the Macon Telegraph and New York Post as hailing from Fernandina Beach.

Madison Moore, 21, told the Macon Telegraph that for people to wave off the bizarre jibe as a joke was “kind of insulting” and “humiliating.” The New York Post reported the Telegraph’s story identifying Ms. Moore as a resident of Fernandina Beach.

“It was kind of humiliating to be called a liar on national TV by the former vice president,” Ms. Moore told the Georgia newspaper.

“Instead of answering that question straightforward, his immediate response was to attempt to invalidate me by exposing my inexperience.”

The then Mercer University economics student was at a New Hampshire campaign event with a school trip when she asked the Democratic presidential hopeful about the viability of his campaign given his fourth place standing in the Iowa caucuses.

Biden responded: “Iowa’s a caucus. Have you ever been to a caucus?”

When she nodded yes, Biden retorted: “No, you haven’t. You’re a lying dog-faced pony soldier,” drawing laughter from the crowd.

The Post reported: “Moore, of Fernandina Beach, Florida, said she was nervous when Biden asked if she’d been to a caucus and nodded yes. She hasn’t been to a caucus, but said she felt that was irrelevant to her question.”

“He has been performing extremely poorly in this race and the fact that he couldn’t just straight answer my question without bullying or intimidating just exacerbates that fact,” Ms. Moore told the Telegraph.

My research indicates that a Madison Moore graduated from Yulee High School in 2017 where she played on the Hornet soccer team. That young lady, who is now a senior at Marshall, participated in the Florida U.S. Constitution Oratory Contest two years ago placing third according to someone who assists with that organization. It would be interesting to hear how she feels about Biden now.  Here’s the NY Post article and video:


The Election Heist: Fernandina Beach resident and well-known national author and political pundit Kenneth R. Timmerman will sign his latest book “The Election Heist” tomorrow (Saturday, October 17) at the 214 Centre Street Book Loft beginning at 10 a.m. In his latest column in The Epoch Times Timmerman exclaims: “We’re witnessing the most brazen attempt to steal an election since the Chicago mob delivered Illinois for JFK in 1960, or the graveyards of Baltimore voted Parris Glendening into office as Maryland’s governor in 1994.”


I’ll Call You When I’m Done: Joe Biden is like a mechanic who has worked on your car for 47 years and tells you that he only needs another four years to fix it.


Speaking Of Joe Biden: I was a daily newspaper reporter in Florida and New York for five years and I heard a lot of stupid answers to questions as well as a lot of stupid questions. But I don’t think I ever heard an answer as absurd as Joe Biden’s when a reporter asked if he would pack the Supreme Court if he was elected President. Biden said: “That’s a good a question and I don’t blame you for asking it. But, if I answer it you’ll print it.” Yeah Joe, reporters have a habit of doing that. It’s called news.

A few days later a reporter asked Biden: “Don’t you think the American people deserve to know if you will pack the court if you are elected?” Biden answered: “No. They don’t deserve. I’m not playing his (Donald Trump) game.”

Kamala Harris also refuses to answer the same question. They also won’t tell us who they would name to the court. What else are they not telling us that they plan on doing?

The answer is of course, they’ll pack the court with five liberal judges if they win the Senate and the Presidency, thereby eliminating the system of checks and balances and turning the judiciary into a left-leaning legislative branch. It’ll be easy for them since the media are no longer objective and are in the pocket of the left.


Dems Are Not Collegiate: Since the Democrats control the major population centers of America, they want presidential elections determined by popular vote, so they are determined to eliminate the Electoral College.

Unless they burn them down completely or force all sane people to flee, the Dems control population centers in California and the northeast. Apart from that, there are very few blue states.

To find a way for all states to feel included as equals and not merely as minority stakeholders in a country controlled by three or four of the most-populated states the Founding Father wisely created the Electoral College.

The best explanation I’ve seen in a long time for its existence was made by Marilyn vos Savant, who appears in “Parade” magazine. She was recently challenged to make an argument in favor of the Electoral College and concluded: “Suppose there were a United Countries of Earth. Would we like the idea of China (population 1.439 billion) and India (1.380 billion) running the show because our population is just 331 million?  Or would we want a leveling factor?”


Another Gaffe Machine: West coast pundit Burt Prelutsky points out  that Biden isn’t the only gaffe machine on the Left.  “Recently”, said Prelutsky, “we saw Chuck Schumer announcing that Amy Coney Barrett ‘stands against everything that Americans believe in and that America stands for’, and then, pointing skyward, Rabbi Schumer proclaimed: ‘Ruth Bader Ginsburg must be turning over in her grave in Heaven.’”

“Her grave’s in Heaven?” asks Prelutsky. “Then who the heck did they recently bury in Arlington?”


Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats voice their strategy to ensure Judge Amy Barrett is not confirmed.

Notes! I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Notes: While Senate Judiciary Committee members referred to notebooks, folders and read scripts prepared by their staffs Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett smoothly and expertly answered tough questions for hours about potential rulings, Supreme Court precedents, and past rulings and opinions without any aids. The ancient and decrepit Senator Feinstein stammered through her staff prepared material so often that all TV viewers ever saw was the top of her head.

Even a congressional reporter for ABC noted at the start of last Tuesday’s hearing how devoid of notes Barrett was. When asked to show what was on the desk in front of her Ms. Barrett held up a blank notepad with the letterhead saying: “United States Senate.”

The only thing I could determine that the Democrats were upset about was that she was so darn smart and articulate and her answers to their insipid questions interrupted their mindless campaign speeches as they attempted to turn the hearing into a campaign rally.


Speaking Of Rallies: Passing motorists honked enthusiastically as they drove by the Sadler Rd. and 8th St. intersection last Saturday morning , October 10, in response to about 100 supporters waving signs and flags that read “Support the Police”, “Women for Trump”, and “We have a country to save.”

The rally was the third organized by the Office to Re-Elect the President, headquartered at 5422 First Coast Highway on Amelia Island. Those attending included veterans, young and old, men and women, local business owners, teachers, retirees, among others.

Helen Chestnut, founder of First Coast Community Outreach also attended and went home with $12,000 for her charity. Her partnership with Rally Organizer Amanda Borghese resulted in a $12,000 donation benefiting the Stage Aurora Theatrical Company. The money was provided by local Trump supporters, many of whom were present at the rally. The donation will enable 20 young African-American men and women to attend camp free of charge. Established in 2000, Stage Aurora provides the an area of Northside Jacksonville with professional theatre reflecting the African-American experience, while nurturing black talent and developing a multicultural audience.

A plane passed overhead three times, pulling a banner with the slogan “Trump 2020: The Best Is Yet To Come.” Sponsored by “concerned conservatives” living in Nassau County. Ms. Borghese says the flyovers will continue up and down the coastline every Saturday until October 31, weather permitting.

Folks interested in volunteering or to find out more about future activities can contact the Office to Re-Elect the President: Amanda Borghese or Susan Koehler, Nassau County, 5422 First Coast Highway, Amelia Island. (973) 220-3111 or (703) 967-6789.

  • Comment (20)
  • I can’t do it. I can not vote for Chip Ross. I am taking my chances on the BLM left-wing challenger over someone who just voted to increase our taxes during the pandemic. He also voted to extend the mask resolution past election day. (Did you know that you can get charged with a crime if you do not wear a mask on the top half of our island?) I am tired of the City ignoring the Governor’s recommendations and instead are relying on a Baptist ER Doctor running for re-election for COVID response.

  • Awesome. Spot on. It’s nice to read something, written by one who has a thinking brain. It is a rare commodity in today’s media. Thank you, Dave.

  • Dave, surprised you are following FB and Twitter lead. No comments on the latest Biden scandal, the infamous laptop. The most interesting revelation so far is that there was an email purportedly from Hunter saying he kicks back 50% of his fees to “the big guy”. Yesterday the dem apologists in the media were questioning the authenticity of the laptop and whether Guiliani may be a conduit for Russian agents to smear Biden with it. Rudy came up with a receipt signed by Hunter! Next perhaps they will push the FBI to prosecute Guiliani for child porn? Also surprising the Biden town hall last evening did not include any questions about this laptop incident. He did get a bunch of soft ball questions by the townhall moderator. Meanwhile over at NBC, at another townhall Trump was grilled about everything by the supposed moderator who happens to be married to a former Al Gore staffer. No bias there for sure, eh?

  • The builder we contracted our sunroom with …. which we decided to not build after multiple frustrating rounds with the city’s building department …. commented that the consenus of builders in his circle is that Fernandina Beach is the hardest place in North Florida to build anything in.
    So, I guess if that’s the reputation they wanted …. along with outrageous fees and permits….that’s the rep they have.
    It’s sad really.

    I know exactly who I’m voting for this November ….Bradley Bean and David Sturges.
    Local guys who share our feelings about the terrible state of the city.
    Up in the air about the ross seat.

    • The Planning department could not approve the application because the project did not meet required set backs. At the time the Building Department did concurrent reviews and the plans were resubmitted a few times to address building code issues, but were ultimately approved from a building code stand point. Unfortunately, without approval from the planning department, the permit application could not be approved for permit.

  • Republicans this, Democrats that…blah blah….blah. While it’s true that U.S. politics are dominated by a two party system, ignoring the voters who elect the politicians is often done for the simplicity of presenting a biased argument. Registered Independents outnumber both Republicans and Democrats by a statistically significant margin. So either party’s success is largely due to voters who don’t identify with Dems or Republicans on a consistent basis. But acknowledging that simple fact would give political pundits and other wannabes scant little to rant about. Yes, “We The People”, aka Independents, decide how we want this Republic governed by our votes. Remember that when the final tally becomes known in November.

  • Re: “Election Heist”: Which party is being talked about? Pertinent to both. Neither is fundamentally different when it comes to elections. I’d vote Libertarian if it weren’t a wasted vote. “Re-Elect No One.” should become the nation’s mantra.

  • Dave:

    Thanks to you and your professional sources, albeit anonymous, for exposing the obvious predatory fees charged by Shakedown City. Those extreme fees are another reason the city paid such an exorbitant price, as determined by the FL Public Service Commission, to FPU for the water utility. They knew they would get it back and then some by using the utility to force annexation of county properties and marks (they call them “citizens” elsewhere) into the city subjecting them to illegal and confiscatory fees. It’s past time for Nassau County to come to the defense of its residents threatened by annexation simply for accessing what were and should be the most basic public utility services.

    Dave, we should take a moment to recognize the retirement this month of John “Pay to Play” Mandrick. John came to the city as Public Utility Director from FPU with the purchase of the utility. No doubt John will be a first round, unanimous inductee into the Shakedown Hall of Fame, public sector category. Those of us who were Mandricked over his many years of shake downs will miss his signature “you have to pay to play here” refrain. Safe travels John and enjoy that lifetime annuity courtesy of your many marks.

  • One of the first actions I took as the new City Building Official, was to engage a tax accounting firm to conduct a “Fee Study”. This fee study began in July and will wrap up this month. The purpose of this study is to see exactly where we stand with the Building Department fees with regard to covering our costs. State Statute 553.80 requires that we do not bring in more than what it costs to administrate and enforce the Florida Building Code.

    The Florida Legislature adopted House Bill 127 which requires the City Building Department to post its building permit and inspection fee schedules on our website. Along with this, by December 31, 2020, the governing body will post a newly required building permit and inspection utilization report. The report will include costs incurred and revenues derived from the enforcement of the Florida Building Code. After December 31, 2020, a local government must update the report prior to amending its building permit and inspection fee schedule.

    The purpose of this legislation, is to ensure building departments properly set fees for enforcement of the Florida Building Code. If our fees are too high, they either need to get reduced, or permit applicants refunded accordingly. Per Florida Statute 553.80, a Building Department May only have the average of the last 4years of the operating budget. The purpose of performing this fee study is that once the utilization report is completed, we will have a better idea as to how our fees are working. Some may be too high, while others too low. Once these two things are complete, we can adjust fees accordingly.

    The better a city does with enforcement of the Florida Fire Prevention Codes and the Florida Building Codes, the better a community is rated by the insurance industry. This results in better insurance, cheaper rates due to lower risks, stronger and more resilient buildings which can better resist storms, safer buildings, less property loss and better occupant safety. Better energy codes, when enforced, result in cleaner buildings and lower costs to operate these buildings.

    The goal of the Building Department is to fairly and consistently enforce the code requirements as State Law requires. We aim to do this in a manner which provides the best customer service possible. Inspections are offered next day, and many times even same day. Soon, we will begin offering am and pm inspections so customers can better plan their days. Often we will return to a job site more than once to see the inspection signed off in the same day rather than requiring someone to wait another day if it can be corrected quickly. Plan review times are consistent with other municipalities and will be and flow depending on how many applications are received. Many times, however, review times are long due to plans requiring corrections and having to be submitted multiple times. At the present time, we are very busy with a little longer wait times due to a red hot building market. The same is true with contractors, design professionals and material suppliers, as customers wait longer for someone to give estimates and get on their schedules. Everyone in the industry, at the present time, are backlogged.

    I spent most of my working years as a licensed general contractor and still currently hold those certifications. I understand how the process must work and strive to work with our customers, as we are all in this together. If we do our job well, we will help ensure safer buildings. Everyone in the City Building Department will go above and beyond to assist with getting the permit applications through the system and issued, and then provide quality inspections.

    I have provided this response in an effort to let your readers know that we are in fact working hard to provide the services as required by law in the best and most efficient manner possible. Look to the city website at the end of December for this utilization report to see what we do with the fees we charge.

  • Good to see Mr. Beckman’s response to Mr. Borum’s comment going to show you that there are two sides to every story. I am sure that Mr. Borum’s neighbors applaud the Planning Department’s adherence to the zoning code setback restrictions; although Mr. Borum had the right to request a variance before the City’s Board of Adjustments.
    It will be interesting to see the outcome of the Building Department fee study.

  • Be careful what you wish for. If the city ends up lowering permit and developer fees they’re likely to raise taxes to ALL citizens in order to makeup for any shortfall to the general fund.

  • A little more research into building permit fee differences between the city and county will show that the information in this blog does not provide all the facts.

    The current county fee schedule was adopted by the commissioners in 2009 and has not been increased since. The county operated at a significant deficit last year to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. It will continue to operate in a deficit until they can spend down the reserves which are higher than allowed by law to keep. Can’t increase fees when you already have too much money in the bank!

    So why have they not raised fees? Well, because they have about 9 million in the bank for the building department, which exceeds their operating costs by millions.

    Since Florida Statutes have required that a building department charge fees to cover costs and not accumulate massive bank accounts, they have to reduce fees ( see Florida Statute 553.80).

    The city also has a fund balance higher than we can keep, but it is no where near as large. The city will also operate at a deficit, as it did this last year, to the tune of a couple hundred thousand, to also spend down this balance. Again, the purpose of the Fee Study is to know how to adjust the fees to be able to cover our costs, and still show how we are reducing fees to handle this fund balance.

    Many building departments around the State have found themselves accumulating fund balances for a number of reasons. Many have accumulated these funds by operating on very thin budgets for a very long time, and not modernized or increased levels of service as much as they would like. Raising the levels of service can prove to be very difficult as the inspectors, plans examiners, and code officials are in short supply. In order to take these jobs, state certifications which require extensive verifiable experience and technical knowledge prevent many from applying. Additionally, private industry tends to pay higher wages and salaries than the same government positions. Upgrading permitting systems is an expensive proposition for governments, and can run into the millions for many. The city of Fernandina Beach upgraded our permitting system which has allowed us to be 100% paperless/electronic, which we became in March when the Pandemic hit. The city was already partially electronic with the capability to be all electronic which was planned to take place this year. The pandemic just pushed it to happen a little sooner than planned.

    Speaking for the city, we are working to further increase our levels of service to provide the service our customers desire. We currently offer next day inspections, and even some same day inspections. The current level of service exceeds that of most other jurisdictions. We will soon start offering customers morning or afternoon inspections instead of just next day. To do this we need to be fully staffed which we are working on. There have been, and still are, posted positions that have been open for the year and a few months that I have been Building Official, which we do. It even get applicants who meet minimum State requirements for licensure.

    The Building Department is a bit unique in Cities as they operate from fees not taxes. Yes, everyone wants lower fees, however they still want and expect a certain level of service. No builder wants to wait days or weeks for inspections. Everyone wants plans reviewed faster. If staff and services are cut, builders would not get the service they want. Most builders are happy to pay the fees for great service, and next day inspections is great service. Getting plans turned around even in a couple weeks for new construction is great service. Most trade permits are issued same or next day.

    As much as no one likes regulation, building department inspectors and plan examiners continuously find errors and mistakes that are missed by builders and the design professionals. This is the reason the State Legislature requires the local governments to provide this oversight.

    The goal is to protect the health and welfare of the public, and strong codes and enforcement and regulation of these has proven to result in safer and better built buildings. This helps a community a great deal in many ways.

  • Small edit due to a typo:” which we do. It even get applicants who meet minimum State requirements for licensure.”

    The above should read: “which we do not even get applicants who meet minimum State requirements for licensure. “

  • If the city and county are both “running at deficits” for building permit/inspection services, that means both must increase fees to cover cost either now or in the future when reserves run dry.
    In other words, fees can only go up unless services are cut back. Services are being increased, per Mr. Beckman, so city fees will go up at some point. Same for the county?
    This talk of merging city and county building depts. might be a solution.
    Would these depts be more economical if combined?
    Someone should look into this (a Fee Study?) as a way to control future costs in all of Nassau County.

  • The county is not staffed to even fully handle what is needed in the county. The county engages private provider help for inspections that are needed. Additionally, many builders use private providers in the county because the service levels are not as high. Private providers are rarely used in the city because the city meets the service needs of the contractors. The city provides a high level of service. Often people attribute long times to obtain a permit to the city, where the real factor is how well a design professional is with their plans and a contractor with their application. A properly designed project, submitted with all the required documents skated through very quickly. The process of corrections and redesign adds a ton of time to the process and is usually the main delay in permitting.

    Private inspections is a whole different issue with its own problems. Private inspectors tend to not know and not inspect for local requirements and still need local inspectors to do certain inspections. Also, the costs for private inspections typically are higher and cannot be offered for as low a cost as the city, even with fees as they are, and even if refunds are provided as required by FS553.791. Fees could be increased and the city would still be cheaper in providing these services than private. Private also cannot review and sign off local flood plain reviews. I am not saying that Private inspections firms are no good, but they serve a niche. Mostly in places with departments that cannot meet the need.

    When we say that fees might eventually be increased, it is because the costs of things go up. Gas, phones, training, vehicles, uniforms, etc. No matter who provides these services, they face the same costs, if not more. What hasn’t increased in cost from ten years ago? Can you buy a house for the same cost? Lumber has increased dramatically in the last few months alone because of the hot market. A 2,000 sq ft home lumber package has Increased over $10,000 in the last 6 months. Can you buy a car for the same price? Can you get healthcare at the same cost as 10 years ago?Utilities, food, clothes….it all goes up.

    Sometimes levels of service can increase without increased costs due to improvements in technology for example. Having a paperless/ all electronic permitting system saves contractors a great deal in time and printing for starters. Prior to paperless, a single family permit application required 2 sets of plans (3 sets for commercial), plus numerous other documents, just to submit. As changes and corrections are made, plans are reprinted. Now there is only a set that the contractor prints for job site after approved. Some municipalities don’t even require contractors to print the plans and do inspections from electronic devices. Most still print them for trades, but the printing costs go down considerably. Design professionals can design a project and only have to give you an electronic file. That lowers the cost of your design work. Also, contractors can submit from their office. No time traveling to a building department and no costs associated with that.

    Also, when codes change, they change by a democratic approach with the professionals who write them. Because they change every three years here in Florida, innovations are possible that can provide better ways to build that can lower costs. Energy costs, for example, have decreased incredibly over the years due to how we now build. Costs to heat and cool a house have gone down tremendously as compared to trying to condition a 50 year old building.

  • I’d like to add one more comment to answer Mr McDougall: combining services don’t necessarily equate with lower costs. Providing services in a particular fashion, requires a certain level of staff. Assuming combining departments and maintaining levels of service at minimum, then the entity that is performing this service needs additional office space. One larger office? Two offices? Still need the same number of staff, trucks, desks, phones, books, etc as if you have two departments. You cant simply combine departments and eliminate one of them or you would greatly suffer in levels of service. A larger office, or two offices uses more electricity. Uses more computers. Still uses the same gas as if one department or two (probably more if one because now you would have to travel more to handle the city than the city currently travels because it is a small area). also, having a smaller area (as we have in city verses county) makes it possible to provide better services as well. We have geography on our side!

  • The question remains–
    Why does a city that has 14% of the population and 1.8% of the land area of Nassau County require so many duplicative services?
    It is time, during this period of re-normalizing, to seriously address this problem–police, fire, licensing, planning, parks have grown extraordinarily for such a postage-stamp sized city.
    Mr. Lednovich, Mr. Kreger, and the newly elected Commissioners must be forced to address this needless duplication—if not now, when?


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