Recently South Waltonís financial landscape shifted markedly and we should lobby for other changes, too.
Let me make an announcement first. The federal deficit hit the lowest level since 2008 and is now lower, as percentage of Gross Domestic Product, than during the Reagan years. Iím no macro-economic expert but if we had not increased spending in 2009, unlike Herbert Hoover in 1929, perhaps the economy would have gone the direction it did during the 1930s.
Meanwhile, St. Joe has rolled out its new development. On one hand, I see the influx of new blood exciting. More people equal more voters and perhaps we can wrest control of local government levers. South Walton is Walton Countyís ATM but South Walton needs the password.
As more retirees move here, the demand for retirement planning, my area of expertise, would grow. On the other hand this is St. Joe, not the New England Patriots of the development world or as atrocious as Donald Trumpís companies and their multiple bankruptcies, but more like the Jacksonville Jaguars.
To touristsí dismay it rains a lot in South Walton. If the weather is bad it might be pretty after a while or tomorrow but we get monsoons. Last weekend the Eastern Lake Trail, located south of 98, was impassable and north of 98 may be even boggier. Deny the science behind evolution or climate change, but water runs downhill. Wetlands often dry out during the summer and with our sandy soils it may be dry enough to build on.
When it rains though, things change.
Flood insurance only covers $250,000 in damage to a dwelling. You will be alright if you build a 2,000 square foot house for $125 per square foot.
More retirees moving here could bring more amenities for old folks like adult day care so spouses can get a break. As benefits expand, more of us could live alone instead of moving in with children. Some St. Joe developments are wonderful. The hotel/retail area of WaterColor is great or at least it was until they pulled up my longleaf pines.
Walton County is officially ready for spring break with overtime for police and first responders. But taxpayers cover those bills. Instead of dumping the burden on local property owners let our visitors help.
I read Florida Statute 125.04.01 regarding bed tax revenue. Promoting tourism and rebuilding beaches are only parts of what is permissible. You may be surprised to learn the Lee County Board of County Commissioners approved using bed tax dollars to fund a spring training facility for the Boston Red Sox. Itís really genius; the county gets a facility financed by bed taxes and sees the local economy boosted. Sometimes government spending makes sense, see paragraph one. In junior high civics class I learned laws, in addition to being made, can be amended. Amend Florida Statue 125.04.01 so local governments can offset tourism costs. Otherwise we are being chumps.
I suggest another change. Spring break reprobates and rascals should have a mug shot online at www.waltonsun.com and the Sunís print edition. New rules: If you come and act the fool your face goes on the web. Itís High Noon on 30A.
Buz Livingston, CFP has a Blue Mountain Beach based fee-only, hourly financial planning and investment management firm. For more information, visit www.livingstonfinancial.net or come by our new office at 2050 Scenic 30A, M1-Unit 230, Redfish Village.