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October 2004

Brevard County Referendum 2

OK, first the text:


Shall Brevard County issue bonds to finance the acquisition, improvement and maintenance of environmentally endangered land and water areas for the protection of habitat, public open space, and water resources, and for providing passive recreational opportunities, provided the bonds do not exceed Sixty Million Dollars ($60,000,000) bearing interest not exceeding the maximum legal rate and maturing in twenty (20) years payable from the levy of ad valorem taxes not exceeding .2085 mills?

OK. This one is harder than the last few, because I have mixed feelings on this. The purpose of this is to provide funds toward the purchasing of “open space” land for public use and preservation rather than private development… typically more housing developments and shopping centers as the population of the county increases. Now, in general, I like the idea of preserving the land and parks are cool. And in the end nicer than a bunch more development. I like the idea of making sure a lot of land is set aside for those type of uses.

On the other hand, I’m being a bit hypocritical, having just moved here, but immediately saying essentially that I want to slow down the movement of more people here.

Also, there is the general notion of encouraging the government to buy and own property and land and such. Now, an absolutist on the Libertarian scale would say that government shouldn’t own anything at all, or perhaps just the bare minimum needed to operate. I am not an absolutist though. I think it is OK for government to own a few things. And it is probably an OK use of government resources to buy land for conservation. I would *prefer* that private interests who cared a lot about conservation do it instead. But as a poor second choice, I guess the government can do it. I’m not sure I feel 100% right about that though.

Finally though, there is the “how do you pay for it” issue. This is paying for it by issuing bonds… which is increasing the public debt. In general, although it is a very common practice in governement, and certainly by individuals… including myself… taking on debts for major purchases makes me nervous. What ever happened to pay as you go? Why not just allocate a portion of the annual budget toward saving for these things, and once every few years spend some on it. Or something like that. Only buy what you can actually pay for. Etc. Why accrue debt? OK. I know good reasons to do so sometimes. So the question becomes, is the county managing debt properly and keeping to managable reasonable amounts that just serve to spread the cost of major purchases out making things more predictable year to year, or are they doing like the Federal government and operating an ever increasing amount of debt that will cause problems down the road… So, I spent some time looking at last year’s Brevard County Budget. It looks like the budget is balanced, revenues are increasing year over year, etc. Sounds healthy. Looks like it could absorb the new debt.

I was initially going to vote against this simply because they were issuing bonds to do it rather than paying as they went. And because of my general uneasyness at government buying up land, no matter how good the purpose… but I think after looking at the budgets and everything else, I can overcome those concerns, and live with being hypocritical on being for development before I got here and against development after… in the long run, this will probably make for a better county. So here goes.

I will vote: FOR THE BONDS

Hmmm. That is a very weak yes though. I could still flip flop on this one. I’m right on the line.

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