The reasons for advocating the formation of a municipal government in Navarre are as basic and as fundamental as those our Founding Fathers
espoused in the forming of our great nation - self determination, a representative voice, putting local decisions ahead of those made in distant seats of power, and fair and equitable taxation approved by and used for the benefit of those who pay those taxes, not for the benefit of others. Navarre will never be able to achieve its true potential for greatness as a community until the necessary decisions for planning, improvements, infrastructure, growth management, the creating of educational and job opportunities are made by the residents of Navarre themselves. By self-governance, Navarre can become a city with an identity and a soul, a great place to live, work and play.
LIST OF ISSUES
As a "census designated area", Navarre and environs represent a sort of non-entity. We have a community, but we have no self governance. We are more like one of the original thirteen colonies - we are governed from afar. While we have a county commissioner, he is one of five, and if at least two other commissioners from locations other than Navarre don't support his initiatives then nothing is accomplished. And a quick glance around Navarre and the beach will bear this out, especially in comparison to other cities and communities throughout the county. To truly be masters of our own destiny, Navarre and Navarre Beach need to unite and form a true representative government, a government chosen only by its residents, represented by its chosen neighbors, transacting the affairs of government minutes away. Who else is more qualified to make those kinds of decisions - you the resident voter and the leaders you elect to serve.
Recent decisions that have impacted our area - the changing of the Navarre Beach sign and motto, the repudiation of a district specific master plan, the gusher of tax dollars flowing north from Navarre compared to the trickle that finds its way back - it only make sense that keeping our vote and more of our tax dollars here is to the benefit of all. A municipal government will more adequately address and meet our needs, and, as well, its time for Navarre to stand on it's own two feet and be counted.
"No taxation without representation!" was a rallying cry heard throughout this land at its formation. The same holds true for Navarre and Navarre Beach. Our area has the largest tax base due to its population and being the epicenter for tourism in Santa Rosa County. However it is evident that the value of that tax dollar is pretty skimpy. To be contributing the largest proportion of revenue to the County we are not receiving back a commensurate level of services and improvements. Due to State mandate property taxes to the county cannot change, but as a city we would be able to capture a larger share of the existing tax base when including sales and bed taxes. We work hard for our money, wouldn't we rather keep more of it here for our own benefit than to watch it be spent on projects in other areas of the county where we gain no benefit?
Some make the argument that a new city would raise our overall personal tax liability. In the long run this is true. But two things to remember - in Florida your taxes cannot be raised except by referendum - in other words, not without your permission. And if the value of your tax dollar increases in direct benefit to you here in our community, then it is a wise investment. Also, if you haven't been paying attention, the County is already looking to raise your taxes themselves. There is a referendum for a 1 cent sales tax increase on the ballot for October, as well as couple of proposed impact fee assessments.
While we don't know yet the details of taxes in a new city, consider this - all the members of this PAC own property and/or live in Navarre or Navarre Beach. We have as much skin in the game as anyone else in trying to keep our taxes as low as possible while trying to maximize the benefit of those same tax dollars in our community.
Let's face it - those most qualified to be responsible stewards of our taxes are those who live there and are directly impacted.
One of the frustrating aspects of living in the Navarre area has been recognizing something needed to be done, whether a service, improvement or capital project, voicing those concerns and then being ignored - all while other areas in the county gets such measures.
However, a municipal government has certain powers to advocate on behalf of its citizens, singly, as a group or on the whole, to force the issue on necessary issues outside its purview. A city has at it's disposal public statements, proclamations, lobbying and even legal action to get things done that need to be done - infrastructure improvements the County has put off, goading the state to uphold its commitment to public safety by fast tracking road projects - even seeking beneficial state or federal legislation.
Its a powerful tool we currently don't have at our disposal but could after incorporation.
Management of Growth and Development
Most of us chose to live in Navarre for a variety of reasons. Some are newcomers, some have sunk roots here for a length of time and some grew up here. There's no debating one of the best selling points for Navarre and beaches is the laid back atmosphere and lack of saturated beach development we see in other areas. Most would like to see it remain unchanged. Unfortunately, reality will not allow that to happen. The population of Navarre and it's beaches have more than doubled since the year 2000, and that trend is not going to let up. Since the 1960's Florida has been one of the fastest growing states in the Union, and that growth is continuing. Where once most new residents funneled to central and south Florida, those areas are reaching a saturation point, and the newest influx is looking for greener pastures. And that means here in the Panhandle.
Growth is inevitable, but with it come a myriad of issues - the need for housing, retail establishments and, reflecting our prominent local industry, rooming and amenities for tourist. Land use and the infrastructure grid become critical. And these are all factors that have been largely ignored. Growth requires responsible management, and that simply is not happening in zip code 32566 at this time. While the tax revenue generated here is greatly appreciated, almost no forethought and certainly no tangible action has been taken to address these issues. WE are coming to a juncture soon where the development is going to outstrip the ability of infrastructure to support it. Water, sewer, storm water drainage, roadways - all are not being properly addressed. The theme seems to be 'Continue to build and create more tax revenues. We'll deal with it later." Later will be too late.
Some point to Panama City Beach and Destin as examples of beach communities gone wrong, blaming the issues there on incorporation and and not wanting Navarre going down the same path.
However this theory is simply not true. In both instances a lack of attention by Bay and Okaloosa counties led to those areas becoming what they are. By the time both communities saw the necessity of incorporating and did so the cow was already out of the barn, and they've been playing catch up ever since.
Is it too late for Navarre? We wont know, but again, who better to make the critical decisions necessary for managed growth and development that we ourselves? Only a municipal goevernment will truly reflect the will of the people in Navarre, for Navarre.
Jobs and Education
Many parents complain that once their children graduate from high school and either move on to college or enter the job market, there are no well compensated, rewarding career fields for them to enter in the Navarre area - they must move elsewhere. Not only are parents sad to see their kids move elsewhere but Navarre is losing out on their talents and skills. As a city, Navarre could advocate and seek out desirable corporations and industries to move to this area, bringing employment opportunities as well as revenues directly benefiting the city. Also, the city could attract more educational opportunities as well, such as branch campuses of local colleges and vo-tech schools that provide skilled workers that the blue collar sector desperately need.
Improved Quality of Living
Living in Navarre and Navarre Beach is truly living in a paradise. The small town feel makes for a relaxing environment. But many of us seek amenities that we currently don't have - more diverse dining experiences, more retail shopping venues and recreational opportunities. Many work in Pensacola or Okaloosa, come home to Navarre and then if they seek these outlets must drive back to those distant places. Not only is it a convenience factor but represents business lost to our area and sales tax dollars being spent elsewhere that would benefit us more at home. A city would plan and advocate to improve our recreational opportunities while still supporting the local "Mom n' Pop's" that already make our community great. Also a city could seek and provide more cultural and entertainment opportunities as well.
We can't prevent Navarre from becoming bigger. But, we can all together make Navarre better!