There is no perfect plan for a strong mayor or charter government for Escambia County. However, what do know is that the current systems only worked well when the overall local economy was healthier. The land, housing and the overall cost of living was cheaper here so lower wages seemed to be a fair trade-off….
Now the cost of living isn’t much different than anywhere else. Our cheap and uneducated general workforce isn’t attracting many employers. Property taxes and insurance have made second homes, condos and investment properties more difficult to own – depressing the real estate industry.
Meanwhile the 10-member council-city manager form of government is a decent provider of basic services, but not innovative. We hold on to money-losing enterprises like the Port and City garbage services. We have an arbitrary small boundary to our downtown area. We have no one elected official to recruit new businesses. Everything happens here so slowly in world that is speeding by us.
Without charter, our county government is segregated into constitutional offices. We can recall an elected official. We can petition them for a referendum. Did you ever wonder the health insurance referendum had the county getting three million off the top? Because the county commissioners could word the referendum however they wanted and no one could make them do it any differently?
Not having a charter government is costing us money. It’s one reason why the county budget is so huge.
We can bicker and wait forever for the perfect strong mayor proposal or charter ….and watch us fail further behind Baldwin, Okaloosa, Walton and Bay counties.
The IN Strong Mayor plan has a sunset clause – 5 years. If it doesn’t work then, we can revert back to the present system.