Boomers should expect greater challenges during retirement than their parents… well, no duh. Chris Kahn, Bankrate.com’s statistics guru, believes boomers should anticipate working longer, saving more and spending less. You can add low interest rates to the usual suspects, less generous government entitlements, fewer defined benefit plans and increased stock market volatility. At least locals have a glimmer of hope.
In Walton County’s preliminary 2013-2014 budget the Tourist Development Council (TDC) projects spending over $2 million on local infrastructure improvements. While nothing is written in stone, this departure from standard operating procedure potentially lowers the tax burden for Walton County residents. When I travel, bed taxes generally dwarf 4 percent and I’m sure money goes to local projects.
Last Christmas, we were invited as the only non-cyclist attendees to a Christmas party. Bikers sometimes hangout at The Outpost on Black Creek but this soiree was held in WaterColor… a much different biker genre.
Trying my hand at cocktail party small talk, my opinion on bike path expansion with TDC dollars went over like an Obama T-shirt at The Outpost. Serious cyclists like to ride and have the right to traverse 30A; I’m OK with it.
If I spring for a bike, rest assured, I will be on the bike path whose maintenance now will be picked up by the TDC.
Under proposed guidelines bike path maintenance and expansion will shift from county general revenue to the TDC. Instead of millions going to out of state advertising agencies we can use it locally. Also by spending TDC dollars locally, maybe someone gets a job as bike path technician. Note to Lance Armstrong wannabees: The Department of Transportation does not mount red octagonal signs with the letters S, T, O and P at intersections for decorative purposes. Pedestrians pushing baby strollers still have the right of way when they are in a designated crosswalk. Share the road works both ways.
Northwest Florida’s undertow and rip currents also pose an unseen danger. In Bay County, two more swimmers died while their county commissioners debated lifeguard funding. Why, oh why, Walton County has lifeguard stations scattered miles apart befuddles me. We promote the beach, we promote the Gulf then we put swimmers in jeopardy. With TDC bucks augmenting (potentially) our outstanding lifeguard program, we can advertise safer beaches than our neighbors allowing vendors and rental companies to increase their rates.
Last weekend, I met a family who for a solid week used the Timpoochee Trail, a.k.a. the bike path exclusively. They only cranked their SUV up during a rainstorm.
With traffic increasing every tourist season, we need to make it safer for tourists who have the good sense to bike instead of driving. Until the TDC-funded bike path expansion across Western Lake is complete, cyclists will have to share the road with vehicles whizzing by at 40 miles an hour. Let’s give kudos to the TDC and county commissioners for appropriately prioritizing county revenue and encourage them to push back against the people who want to continue the status quo.
A friend believes the bed tax should be eliminated. The aforementioned family biked to his restaurant and liked it. Only the chancy bike path across Western Lake hinders their return. With a snaggle-toothed son we can expect six to 10 years of future visits. One hand washes the other.
Buz Livingston, CFP has the only investment management and financial planning firm in the entire world headquartered in Blue Mountain Beach Florida. He helps clients along Florida’s Emerald Coast and around the country with financial decisions. Contact him at 850-267-1068 or www.livingstonfinancial.net. For timely financial tweets follow @BuzLivingston