“Trouble’s hiding behind that tree” — Eric Lindell


At Shortys last week I promised Eric Lindell if my writing gig started generating positive cash flow our accountants would work something out. Current projections have spring break 2013 numbers higher than last year. Trouble is hiding behind a Walton County longleaf pine; it will get the drop on us if we don’t plan. TDC’s Dawn Moliterno, Commissioner Cindy Meadows and Sheriff Mike Adkinson discussed ways to thwart Spring Break problems at a recent town meeting.

A big local debate concerns the use of TDC bed tax money to address infrastructure needs. For instance during spring break last year, Adkinson noted Walton County twice had crowds in excess of 10,000 in different locations on the same day. Large crowds can overwhelm personnel; to maintain decorum, the sheriff indicated plans to maximize overtime.

Infrastructure brings a mental picture of something under construction but not always.

Last month, neighboring Bay County’s TDC board voted to appropriate $100,000, pending county commissioner approval, for spring break policing. Panama City Beach Mayor Gayle Oberst realizes, “… the key is being in control.” The Panama City Beach Police Department plans a six-officer beach patrol using all terrain vehicles.

Famed lawman Barney Fife sagely observed “you gotta nip it in the bud” and to honor Deputy Fife, Panama City plans to have officers monitoring the beach early every morning. It’s perfectly legal. Local governments can use bed tax money for special events security geared for tourism.

Let’s cut and paste Bay County’s good idea. Otherwise, Walton County taxpayers pick up the whole tab.

Speaking of taxes but changing gears, I’m sure there’s a logical explanation why Pensacola will have a new bridge soon without a tax or toll. Doncha feel like Charlie Brown when Lucy snatched the ball? Pensacola Bay’s rickety, aging Three Mile Bridge gives me the hebejebees every time I cross it and a replacement can’t come too soon.

They played their hand better than we did.


Walton Sun Pick and Pans

Let me give a big huzzah for the recent prescribed burning story in The Sun. I remember the smoky aroma permeating clothes and truck cabs during burning season. Prescribed burns are as much a part of South Walton County as sand, sunburns and salt air. Without prescribed burns, we risk disaster.

On the flip side, paraphrasing the Godfather of Soul, please, please, please stop including Greece and Washington, D.C., in the same sentence. Both nations have debt but the similarities end there. Galveston and South Walton both have beaches but, as observed by our Texas-locked daughter, are very different.

If anything, Greece and the U.S. are even farther apart. When world financial markets face tumult, investors flock to U.S. Treasury Bills.  In a recent webinar, Year of the Snake, Doubleline’s bond maven, Jeffrey Gundlach reiterated Warren Buffett’s admonition US Treasury debt should be AAAA, no typo 4 A. Yes, America has looming fiscal issues but we are light-years from Greece.

Next week, we will point out five or more things at least as important as our debt, if not more important.  Stay tuned.  

No one has ever lost a dime in the Thrift Savings Plan’s “G” Fund, either.

Correction from last week’s column: IRA limits increased to $5,500 in 2013 with a $1,000 over-50 catch-up

Buz Livingston, CFP offers hourly financial planning and fee-only investment management to clients along Florida’s Emerald Coast.  Contact him at 267-1068, Buz@LivingstonFinancial.netor www.LivingstonFinancial.net.