Thursday, December 6th, 2012 at 10:16am

It’s Not Over–Lake County Needs Growth

Posted by admin

Ask most business people in Lake County, and they will be quick to say the negative impact of this bad economy is far from over.  Daily, businesses are either closing their doors or struggling to keep the doors open.  In addition, home prices are still very depressed; and, because of uncertainty, most businesses are very reluctant to hire.  There is absolutely no disputing Lake County is a long way from good times.

For some, however, times must be good or they are stuck in a time warp of the housing boom from 2005.  The bitter, old columnist from the out-of-county newspaper chastised Lake County Commissioner Sean Parks and a group of business leaders from South Lake County for having visionary meetings on how the area should grow in the future and developing a strategy which fits the area.  That is exactly what community leaders in the area should be doing–looking forward instead of looking backwards.

The question is, “Does Lake County need more new houses now?”  Some of the old “no growth disciples” would probably answer “no.” Then again, these are the same people who don’t care about small things like jobs and property values.  The reason why home prices have crashed in Lake County is because very few new homes have been constructed and the prices are being driven by short-sales and foreclosures.  For example, new car prices dictate the price of used cars–the same is true for housing.  The good news is Lake County is down to 3.9 months in housing inventories, which is historically low, and every homeowner in Lake County should be praying that new home construction begins in earnest.  This is how property values will increase.

Another question is, “Why should a new community be planned in a remote area 30 years from now?”  This is how modern day urban planning is done.  Most experts contend the communities of the future will be mixed use with an emphasis on minimal travel, public transportation, and management of resources.  This is exactly what planned growth should look like.

Most importantly, Commissioner Parks is doing something every political leader in Lake County should be doing–looking for opportunities.

This Great Recession may have technically ended a couple of years ago, but for many citizens and business people in Lake County the economy is still very bad.  The economic mess is not over, and anyone suggesting that a “no growth” agenda is needed is delusional.  Lake County officials should be on their hands and knees begging for business investments. To criticize actual public-private partnership is absurd, because diminished grant monies from the federal and state government will require communities to aggressively engage in more of these types of arrangements.

The economic hope of Lake County and every homeowner depends on growth, and the stale argument from a failed, no-growth movement is just another impediment to prosperity.  Commissioner Parks is pursuing the right direction on growth for Lake County.  We believe that if he really wants to grow Lake County correctly, he should consult local business people who actually have a stake in the land and the community.  The more you keep the decisions local, the better the decisions will be for the people who live in Lake County.

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4 Responses to “It’s Not Over–Lake County Needs Growth”

  1. Has any of these people around here stopped to think what’s going to happen when Minkoff and his lawyer friends in Tallahassee can’t stall off this Fire Tax Suit any longer and are forced to settle? The judge in the case has already said we’d better work out a deal or he’s going to do it for us.

    For all intents and purposes Lake BCC has lost this suit and some kind of reimbursement (settlement) has got to be reached. It’s got to either come in the form of cash reimbursement to all the taxpayers of Lake County or the form of a credit against future taxes payable of those plaintiff’s still on the tax roles plus a cash settlement to those who paid the illegal Fire Tax and are no longer Lake Tax Payers.

    Even the County manager Bill Neron told Sandy Minkoff and the BCC at the time they could not implement that tax. It had been found to be unconstitutional; they done it anyway! They collected the money and spent it like a drunken sailor. Now they are going to have to figure out how to repay it.

    Either way this is a liability to Lake County government and one of those “other obligations” the budget director was probably thinking about when he made his recent media comments.
    Also, if the Lake School Board, the BCC and the Sheriff and other constitutional officers haven’t been rat packing that 3% retirement contribution they had to make out of their budgets until July 1, 2011 everyone will soon have to cough up that amount as well.

    These two things alone are enough to put Lake Government in Bankruptcy not to mention that beer loving sheriff with a Champaign and caviar appetite for wasting our money.

  2. Lake County officials are projecting another tough budget year in 2013-14. Expenses are exceeding revenues, and we haven’t been able to bring down expenses as fast as revenues are going down,”

    Two months ago, county commissioners changed Lake’s reserves policy, saying an emergency fund equaling 15 percent of the budget was too much. They agreed to between 12 percent and 7 percent.

    Now they say the county is expecting reserves to drop to 6.1 percent, or $7 million. (This is a vapor amount because they can’t even give us the real sheriff’s budget amount within $10 million dollars) Property values are falling causing at least a 3 percent drop in revenue next year.

    Expenses are uncontrollable they don’t just automatically go down. Department heads have been told to take another 5 percent budget cut next year and constitutional officers will be asked to do the same.

    The county tentatively had about $120 million budgeted for the general fund next year, but that number is looking to fall to about $112 million. The real sheriff’s 2012 budget is over $60 million meaning if he fails to give us real cuts and not fake, phony cuts like he did last year it will take 50% of this up coming years general fund revenue to keep the sheriff and his crew happy.
    “And there are other things. There is debt service on the (new) courthouse.” That comes out the general fund. They have to make those payments, and they have other obligations.

    Just like the new tax collector and property appraiser’s office building, the monstrosity of a parking garage, the not needed judicial center expansion and now the not needed Emergency Operations Center.

    Now all these important elected officials that demanded all these new buildings can retire; some can even re-retire and haul buggy to the mountains or to New Utopia in the Caribbean or wherever they have long planned to haul tail to after they got what they wanted and got what they wanted their friends to have as well. It is those who have make Lake County their family home for generations that have their heart and souls in Lake County that will suffer. It is they who will stay here and try to pick up the pieces and rebuild Lake County after the bankruptcies.
    For the most part the businesses and other working survivors of Lake County have adjusted, downsized and learned to live within their means. Our government leaders and bureaucrats have not. At least the Lake Board of County Commissioners and the Lake County School Board both have fixed expenses that must be paid. Those who do not understand that government agencies that can not meet their obligations and can not refinance those obligations to a manageable status will be forced into bankruptcy.

    The commissioners don’t seem to understand they hold the power to cut the constitutional officers budgets. County staff says they can ask them to cut 5 percent, but I can’t go in there and tell them to do it. What they either do not understand or are being mislead by Lake County behind the scene leaders is – it’s the job of the constitutional officers to present their budget request to the county commissioner’s; it’s the job of the majority of the county commission to accept, reject or amend that budget. If the constitutional officers don’t like that they must appeal to Tallahassee for a hearing for a final solution. If the constitution gave these constitutional officers the sole authority to set their own budgets without any oversight they would not be required to present their budgets to the county commission to begin with. They would simply present a monthly demand for payment for their wants and like so many other obligations the BCC would be forced to fund that billing.

    At the present the Lake Sheriff’s budget is way out of line. It could easily be cut by 25% or more. The Lake Jail is the BCC’s little bailiwick to run. Historically except for a short period of time around 1992-93 when the BCC took it over to run; the sheriff has run the jail on behalf of the LCBCC. They do this because it increases their cash flow – the jail budget is always fat and the money can easily be transferred to other accounts for toys and fun and games. That coupled with the fact that it doubles the head count of the sheriff’s employee influence at election time.

    Everyone will grumble, mumble and procrastinate because no one wants to give up one thing that they just know they deserve. In the end their greed will bring abut the financial collapse and all Lake County government will fall over their own fiscal cliff. That is one way to solve the problem around here. When we are broke and all the money is gone the rats will also disappear; it looks like that the only way to get rid of them.

  3. The following paragraph:

    “Most experts contend the communities of the future will be mixed use with an emphasis on minimal travel, public transportation, and management of resources. This is exactly what planned growth should look like.”

    …sounds exactly like Agenda 21. On paper it seems like a good idea, until you look more closely at “sustainable development” and learn what the ultimate plan looks like. Be very careful what you wish for when it comes to “planning.”

  4. In regards your comments about Commissioners Parks looking to the future, he has been involved in reviving the West Orange South Lake Transportation Task force along with Commissioner Scott Boyd of Orange County with the aim of tying the activites of Horizons West and South Lake County together for a more coherent and seamless future growth patern. This in my estimation is a sign of real future planning

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