GGEACA E-Bulletin (fwd)
naplesnews.com On The Mark: We could be the tax poster child By Mark Strain
Thursday, June 14, 2007
The State of Florida is attempting to curtail unnecessary spending through mandatory tax cuts. Ironically while, agonizing about all the problems the cuts will create, our local municipality remains determined to waste hundreds of millions of tax dollars on a road extension that is, by their own admission, being done to benefit a very small number of county taxpayers. The extension is of course is for Vanderbilt Beach Road. It seems the more contentious and costly this roadway becomes, the more insistent local government is that it is needed.
What began as a misguided road planning effort has now seemingly become a line in the sand that officials insist on defending, despite it being truly unworthy of any defense and certainly not worth the tax allocations that will be needed to make this corridor a reality. The money could be much better spent on countless other, more practical, projects that would benefit more county taxpayers.
The actual roadway will replace many homes with six lanes of concrete. For the homes that are left near this corridor, their land will become virtually worthless. They will be forced to live next to a roadway that has more lanes than I-75 and will forever disrupt the surrounding neighborhoods.
Transportation officials are not fools, neither is the administration of our local government. They all realize that the only way to win a battle is good marketing -- a tool which is in constant use in county government. Even a bad idea marketed well can soon seem not only good, but necessary.
Vanderbilt Beach Road is a marketing scheme aimed at convincing the public and elected officials that something very wrong is necessary for all the right reasons. Experts have done the studies that support the predetermined conclusions that the folks writing the checks want them to say. Made As Instructed is the basis for expert advice and flows throughout the inner workings of local government, which then becomes the cornerstone of planning and budgeting efforts.
This road corridor will negatively impact hundreds of people in its immediate vicinity and thousands across Collier County, yet so few are noticing the damage it will end up doing or voicing a concern for it. Sure, the folks in the path of this unnecessary corridor are fighting mad and standing up every chance they get, but where are the thousands of tax payers demanding we stop such limited and specialized projects that suck hundreds of millions of dollars away from other more badly needed budget items?
To grasp the depth of tax money needed for this mistake, look at the costs of another mistake -- the overpass at Golden Gate Parkway and Airport Road. At the time it was initiated, the cost was supposed to be about $34 million, which by now probably has enough change orders or extras to cover mistakes to equal $40 million. In comparison, the Vanderbilt Beach Road Extension will end up costing seven or eight times the cost of the overpass!
If you live in other parts of the county, like East Naples or North Naples for examples, most likely your homes may never be removed for a roadway and thus this may not seem like your fight. But where do you think the hundreds of millions of dollars this project will cost are coming from? Improvements that would have benefited your neighborhoods and the county as a whole will go undone because the funds were moved to a very limited and unproven need in Golden Gate Estates.
If the State of Florida ever needed a poster child for tax spending gone awry, they need look no further than the imbalance of unnecessary funding that will need to be allocated for the Vanderbilt Road Extension project.
© 2007 Naples Daily News and NDN Productions. Published in Naples, Florida, USA by the E.W. Scripps Co.