Campaign: Abel talks about debt reduction


Campaign: Abel talks about debt reduction

Dan Abel
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Last week, I participated in the first debate of this election. I had a great time, and everyone asked some excellent questions. It is clear that the voters are tuned-in, informed, and looking for a change. Unfortunately my incumbent opponent was unable to make it, so it wasn’t a true “debate”.

However, we have another chance this weekend when the Ponte Vedra Beach Republican Club hosts a “Ole’ Time Political Debate and BBQ”. It is this Saturday, May 17th, from 1-4pm at the Players Community Center – 175 Landrum Ln in Ponte Vedra Beach. Please come out and join in.

Recently, I talked about the $378 Million of debt that St. Johns County currently has. This amount of debt did not just pop up overnight; it has been building for a while. St. Johns County has a spending problem, it’s unsustainable, and it’s putting stress on the county’s budget. As a Financial Advisor, I know how to create a budget. Florida Statute 129 requires counties to have a “Balanced Budget”; so let’s look at our county.

The adopted budget for 2013 showed county revenues of $567 Million, including $248 Million “Carry Forward”, or money left in the bank at the end of the year. $165 Million of the carry forward was the budgeted “Reserve” from the 2012 budget, $55 Million was pledged to ongoing projects, and $28 Million was savings over expected spending. Savings are a good thing! The amount leftover, $319 Million, is the true Revenue collected from your taxes and fees.

2013 budgeted expenses were $567 Million, creating a “Balanced Budget”; of which $147 Million was “Reserves”, and $55 Million allocated from 2012 to ongoing projects. Leaving new budgeted expenses of $365 Million.

$319 Million Income – $365 Million Expenses = a $46 Million Loss!

How did the county accomplish this?

In planning the 2013 Budget, the Commission spent the $28 Million in savings; they lowered the budgeted reserves to $147 Million, when previously it had been $165 Million, which generated another $18 Million. There’s YOUR $46 Million. During 2013, the Commission also added $20 Million in un-budgeted debt.

While technically legal, is this really a “Balanced Budget”?

The problem is the definition of a “Balanced Budget”. They actually include Savings, Reserves, and New Debt as a Revenue Source! This isn’t just an issue with the County; it extends to State and National Governments as well.

I understand the true meaning of a balanced budget. I’m here asking for your support. Please help me bring a new era of fiscal accountability to the St. Johns County Commission.

Dan Abel is a Republican candidate for St Johns County Commission, District 4. This message was approved and paid for by the candidate.