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?
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.
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.
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.
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: https://nypost.com/2020/02/10/student-biden-called-lying-dog-faced-pony-soldier-says-she-was-humiliated/
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?”
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.