Escambia County is in a budget crisis. Far too long the County Commissioners have been kicking the can down the road on infrastructure and county employee salaries. We need to get back to the basics and be good at core government functions. The County should not be involved in real estate development and allocating tax money to non-government programs and organizations. Public safety, infrastructure and education are the most important issues that need to be addressed. Fully funded First Responders, street lights and sidewalks, and stormwater management are the core functions government should be handling. The commissioners have tough decisions to make each budget cycle. Many non-government organizations stand in line with their hands out wants our tax payer money. American Heart Assoc., United Way, etc are all good organizations that provide a service, but the money that is given to them is not all used for the cause they are raising money for. In most cases less than 20% of all donations go to the cause and the rest go to administration fees. I would rather see that money be used to improve the traffic at Pensacola Beach or Navy Federal where we can see a 100% return on investment, instead of a 20%.
It is NOT compassionate to steal our money to give to these organizations, it is only compassionate when it comes directly from our pockets and given directly to the organizations we want to give our hard earned money to.
Traffic on Pensacola Beach
There is no denying the traffic issue on Pensacola Beach. There will always be a traffic issue. No matter how many parking spots we create, there will be a backup going into Gulf Breeze during summer weekends. That does not mean we do not try to create solutions to easing the pain. This past year, Escambia County agreed to put a Sheriff’s Deputy at the light to manually control. The County also changed the traffic flow and allowed only one way in and one way out of the Casino Beach parking lot. I talked with a lot of the residents on the beach, and they believed that helped traffic flow tremendously. So much so that when Commissioner Robinson hosted a townhall meeting in the fall, not one resident brought up the traffic issue and actually commended the county changes. That was a far cry from his townhall in the spring.
Many citizens criticized the county for making these changes in the spring, but realized they were wrong. The next step in traffic control is to remove the toll. The toll was put in place to fund the Bob Sikes Bridge repairs. Well that bridge is now in need of replacement and their is no toll money to be found. If our officials cannot be fiscal responsible with the money we give them, then we need to give them less.
We need to make the bridge a priority, before it falls into the water and we have no access onto the beach at all.
Safer Neighborhoods for Escambia County
We need better lit streets, increased number of sidewalks and better maintained roads. By using alternate powered non- evasive street lights our citizens will be more visible to motorists and criminals will have less places to hide. We have a lot of citizens who walk and run daily as their mode of transportation to work, to family and friend’s homes, the grocery store and recreation but do not have safe routes to travel. Let’s protect our active residents.
We should be redirecting the police force into higher crime areas this will help create a safer community. We need to help and empower the police to make Escambia County safer and supply them with all the tools and support they need to ensure our safety.
Lastly, we need to have a transparent conversation about the true crime rate. This is the only way to allocate the appropriate funds and effectively target the high crime areas.
A Better Qualified Workforce
Workforce development is a struggle all communities face. Companies face a constant problem of finding qualified candidates to hire. Escambia County has improved in creating programs for people to receive training. Escarosa and many other entities have done a good job training individuals to go to work in our community. The next step is to get our children ready to step into a job the day they leave high school. Not everyone will go to college, but there are many six figure jobs out there that do not require a college education. Working within the school system to create a better workforce is something that needs to be addressed. Encouraging recent graduates to attend George Stone is another great option for those who do not wish to attend college.
I tip my hat to the ones who are participating in Achieve Escambia. Getting kids ready for kindergarten is a huge priority in this community. But once these kids are in the school system, we need to keep the pedal floored and continue to push the needle, make our kids more engaged and even more prepared to enter the workforce once graduating. One way to assist kids make that jump to the next level is to provide them WIFI with their Chromebooks. Currently many students have no access to the internet at home. Or if they do, it is a hard line that cannot connect to the Chromebook. By providing WIFI access in their tablets, it will allow kids to navigate within education materials at all times. The kids will have access to learn at home and not get behind on homework assignments. Keeping children engaged in school is important and the further they get behind, the more detached they become from learning. A better workforce starts in our schools.
I STAND TOGETHER WITH YOU, FOR A SAFE AND EDUCATED ESCAMBIA COUNTY. VOTE BILL FETKE AUGUST 2018!