__ Steve’s Marketplace __
Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace.
Like father, like son. There’s a lot to like about this father-and-son combination.
The father, Aaron Bean, is championing a bill to divert a tide of illegal immigration out of the state. Meanwhile, Bradley Bean, the son, is spearheading practical solutions for the city of Fernandina Beach.
Aaron is a senior state senator; Bradley is a freshman city commissioner. They are two beans in a pod, sharing conservative values and practical principles of government. Our area is better because of them.
Sen. Bean’s efforts during the current legislative session have been widely publicized, even by national agencies like the Associated Press. Bean’s bill addresses illegal immigrants from the southern border being transported secretly by the federal government on planes and buses into Florida.
Sen. Bean detailed some of the secretive flights that come into Jacksonville International Airport “in the dead of night” carrying immigrants of varying ages from the overflowing southern border. The late-night flights into JIA were first disclosed in this column in August 2021 months before the activity became such a publicized and debated topic.
If approved, the legislation would prohibit government agencies in Florida from employing any transportation companies, like airlines or buses, that are bringing illegals into our state through the undercover federal program. Banning these complicit companies from operating in the state has also been considered.
In the meantime, Bradley Bean has been a shining star of the Fernandina Beach commission. He is also developing into a shooting star that we hope other commissioners will follow, like a beacon in the night.
Commissioner Bean’s latest ideas emanated from an informal, low-profile meeting to chart the city government’s course. During the idea-sharing exercises, Bean distilled complex topics into digestible nuggets that made sense.
The common-sense tendencies were witnessed by Jack Knocke, who was in the small audience. Knocke is the head of the Common Sense Fernandina Beach citizen’s group, and he administered the sensible smell test to various items.
In regard to Bean’s performance, Knocke said in an email to his 300 members: “I had to ask myself why does it take a 27-year-old to demonstrate the leadership the city needs. He acts like he represents the citizens of the community.”
Knocke then cited “a few nuggets of wisdom that Bradley shared” during and after the meeting. The nuggets concerned the CRA zone inside the city, the volunteer Code Enforcement and Appeals Board, zoning rules and property taxes.
Addressing the operations within the CRA, Bean advocated turning Front Street into a one-way corridor to allow space for the free flow of traffic. This would also avoid the need to condemn property, a controversial ploy the city tried but failed to do. While costing taxpayers substantially.
In addition, Bean questioned the city’s sudden decision to replace the volunteer-manned Code Enforcement and Appeals Board with a single magistrate. The board hears citizens’ appeals of building issues, city codes, variances, etc. Bean advocated leaving the board as it is.
Not stopping there, Bean suggested synchronizing the city’s zoning requirements with those of Nassau County. This may even allow for somewhat of a merging of the city and county building departments for simplicity, cost savings, consistency.
Bean is also amenable to the recommendation by Knocke’s group to start the city’s budgeting process at the rollback tax rate. Anything that would necessitate an increase in taxes would have to be compelling. This contrasts with the current format, where the city manager typically brings forward a bloated budget funded by an increase in the tax rate.
The city manager then challenges the commissioners to “find savings in the budget on their own.” In this manner, commissioners must trim a pork-filled budget riddled with wish-list items – when these probably shouldn’t be in there in the first place.
Knocke concluded with the following observations:
Now that sounds like a delectable bean worth roasting, or rather toasting. Cheers to both the Beans.
Steve Nicklas is a financial adviser with a regional brokerage firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns also regularly appear in several weekly newspapers in North Florida, and on his website at SteveNicklasMarketplace.com. He has published a book, “All About Money,” of his favorite columns from the past 20 years. The book is available on Amazon. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at [email protected]