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Monday, October 31, 2011

Flagler County Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction Project

US Army Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville District published a brochure to inform citizens about the Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction Project in Palm Coast and Flagler County.

The primary purpose of an hurricane and storm damage reduction (HSDR)  project is to reduce storm damage to the coastal infrastructure, including residential and commercial property and public facilities. The federal objective is to maximize National Economic Development benefits relative to cost.  While environmental quality and recreational benefits are also important, the Corps is required to plan for maximum storm damage reduction benefits.

Is there a specific objective for the Flagler County HSDR project?
Beach and dune erosion, both long-term and storm induced, is the greatest problem in the Flagler County area. Due to the unique beach sediments and proximity of A1A and existing coastal development, Flagler County’s dune system is experiencing a long-term erosion trend with little opportunity for natural recovery.  The establishment of a functional dune system will be key in meeting the study objectives to reduce damages to infrastructure and maintain environmental quality.   

How does an HSDR project begin?
A Corps civil works project begins when a local community  experiences a water resources problem beyond their ability  to solve, and Congress directs the Corps to investigate the identified problem.
Upon receiving the authority from Congress to study a potential project, the Corps begins by developing a Reconnaissance Report to specify and document existing conditions, problems and opportunities. This determines the federal interest in the project. 
The next step is a Feasibility Study, in which the Corps determines if a project is environmentally acceptable and economically justified. During the Feasibility Study, and as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) the Corps actively seeks input from all interested parties, to ensure that it has as much information as possible to use in developing and evaluating alternatives and selecting a recommended plan. 
Upon completion and approval of the Feasibility Study, the project must be authorized by Congress via a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill and funded through an Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act bill before the Corps may proceed to contract for project construction.      

At what stage of the process is the Flagler County HSDR project? 
The Corps is currently in the Feasibility Study phase, conducting scoping (soliciting input) activities and formulating potential alternative plans. 

How long does the process take?
In the case of Flagler County, the authority for conducting  the study was provided by Congress in May 2002. The  Reconnaissance Report, indicating a federal interest in  conducting a Feasibility Study (FS), was completed,and a cost-sharing agreement with Flagler County was executed in 2004. 
The Feasibility Study began in 2008. Subject to the availability of federal funding, the FS and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is scheduled to be completed by 2014. Upon completion and approval of the FS, the project must be authorized by Congress and funds must be appropriated. 

How much will the Feasibility Study and EIS cost?
To date, approximately $1.5 million has been spent. It is expected that the total cost of the completed Feasibility Study and EIS will be $3.5 million. 

Why does the process take so long?
In accordance with NEPA and Corps policy, the Corps follows a very thorough, methodical process to ensure that the potential federal project is environmentally acceptable and economically justified. Further, the Corps is unable to move a project forward without appropriate authority and associated federal and non-federal funding. 

What kinds of alternatives do you consider for HSDR projects?
The Corps considers both non-structural and structural measures. Non-structural measures may include implementing a coastal construction control line and/or a moratorium on construction, buy-out/relocation and/or flood-proofing of structures, or no action at all. Structural measures may include seawalls, revetments, sand-covered soft structures, beach nourishment, groins, submerged artificial reef, and dunes and vegetation.  

What are the topics for which you seek public input during the scoping phase?
The Corps is seeking public input on environmental, engineering and economic concerns, cultural resources, study objectives and features; as well as suggested alternatives, scientific data collection and study improvements. 

How can interested parties participate in the process?
Written comments will be accepted by mail to: 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Jacksonville District
ATTN: Kathleen McConnell (CESAJ-PD-EC)
701 San Marco Boulevard
Jacksonville, FL 32207 
Or e-mail to:  

The public will also be invited to participate in workshops  and public meetings at appropriate times throughout the process, where verbal and written comments will be accepted and considered.  

Download the brochure here (PDF).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Flagler County Property Taxes vs. the rest of Florida

Are your property taxes higher in Flagler County than homeowners in other parts of Florida? A new list from Florida Tax Watch reveals how much residents pay in property taxes in each of  Florida's 67 counties.

Monroe County (which includes the Florida Keys) tops the list. Homeowners there paid an average $2,800 tax bill in 2010. The lowest property tax average in the state was in Union County, at just $291.

Here is where Flagler County ranks based on two dimensions:

  1) Total Per Capita Property Tax (#15 in the state),
  2) Tax Levies per $1,000 of Personal Income (#8 in the state)

In both cases Flagler County is also higher than the state average:

Based on the entire-state-averages, School Districts also make up the largest portion of the property taxes.  With nearly 44% of all the property tax amounts going to School Districts, 26% to the County, and 13% to the City you live in:

In the case of Per Capita School District Tax Levies, Flagler County also ranked #15 in 2010, with $707.71 (5 ranks more expensive than the State average which was $594.51).

The comprehensive study was prepared by Florida TaxWatch which is a private, non-profit, non-partisan research institute that consider itself the watchdog of citizens′ hard-earned tax dollars.  You can download the entire publication here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Florida Job Creation Incentives: FAIL!

Recent events in Palm Coast, Flagler County landscape on the "Economic Development" front included:
  • An Economic Development Summit Finalé --postponed twice, but did it actually take place with the promised action-plan??
  • Death/Dissolution of Enterprise Flagler.
  • The establishment of UCF and City of Palm Coast-backed Palm Coast Business Assistance Center.
  • Recent plan to form an Economic Development Council by the Flagler County Administration.

In light of all the hoopla, the efforts, the plans, the ideas for job creation, the following news is current, and worth sharing:
New data show that the State of Florida has signed contracts worth $1.7 billion since 1995 in return for promises of 225,000 new jobs. 
But only about one-third of those jobs have been filled while the state has paid out 43% of the contracts -- averaging out a tax-payer cost of $10,237 per job created!
St. Petersburg Times: Florida tax incentive programs create 1 out of every 3 jobs promised

I encourage you to read the full article here, and you will immediately realize that there has been similar job creation failures (and unfulfilled contracts) in Flagler County from Palm Coast Data, to Sea Ray, to Micro Hose makers, to Defense Consultant firms etc. etc.

Once our elected officials and so called 'economic-development professionals' understand the following two realities, perhaps we can then make wise choices for long term development of business and creation of jobs as a local-community, State, and Country:

 1) A business does not create jobs for the sake of job creation.
 2) Investing in traditional businesses/business-models is no longer a winning bet.

As the race for the Palm Coast City Council is underway with the early voting already started for the November 8th elections, please make wise choices now that you will not regret later.

I believe that the current Palm Coast City Council operates in harmony and have made sound choices recently to support businesses in a correct way (realizing the deficiencies of Enterprise Flagler and pulling out first from that; and with the establishment of the Palm Coast Business Assistance Center, to create a "lean" organization to play a connector role).

It is my opinion that the re-election of Holsey Moorman and the election of the dynamic, young Jason DeLorenzo would be the sound choices to make at this juncture, though I and qualified business leaders I talk to, are ready to support the City's continuing efforts for entrepreneurship and business creation and support regardless of the make up of the City Council.

This is an opinion piece by Ky Ekinci.  
Ky is a management consultant and an entrepreneur based in Palm Coast, FL.  Ky is a co-founder of
Office Divvy and Palm Coast Media Online. He has a master’s degree from Cambridge College in Management. He can be found on twitter @KyEkinci.

Would you like to contribute with a commentary or announce an event here?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Everything You Wanted Know About Email Marketing: A Star is Coming to Palm Coast

When it comes to email marketing there are many choices, platforms, and service providers.  Certainly Constant Contact is a household-brand-name among the small business owners, where the company's name is synonymous with email marketing.

One of the rising stars at Constant Contact is Pamela Starr. As Regional Development Director for Constant Contact, Pamela speaks to groups of Florida Business Owners about Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing and Engagement Marketing.  Pamela's seminars help people learn now to maximize the power of Relationship Marketing.

And now, Pamela Starr is coming to Flagler County...

Constant Contact's Pamela Starr will present two back to back sessions at the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, October 19th:

The Power of Email Marketing (2:00 - 3:30 pm)
  • How email marketing can help your business grow
  • How to target prospects and customers
  • How to avoid being seen as a “spammer”
  • The best ways to build your email list
  • How to come up with effective content for your emails
  • How to help ensure your emails are opened and forwarded
  • How to incorporate Social Media into your Email Marketing Campaign

...bonus session!

Getting Started with Constant Contact
(3:30 - 5:00 pm)
  • How to find the best email template for your needs
  • How to include links, pictures and logos into your emails
  • How to include video in your newsletters 
  • How customize your emails in accordance to your company brand
  • How to integrate links to your Social Media platforms (Facebook, etc.)
  • How to use the newest Constant Contact features including “text to join our mailing list”
The cost is $10 for Flagler County Chamber of Commerce members; and $15 for non members.  The back-to-back sessions will take place at the Flagler Room located at the Flagler Chamber of Commerce. 

Space is limited.
Please call 386.437.0106 to reserve your space.

Additional Bonus Sessions: 
Office Divvy ™ as a Constant Contact Business Partner in Flagler County, is also offering two action-oriented FREE Clinics following week to help you get started with Constant Contact.  They will at no cost setup your account, help you import your database, design your template, and send out your first email free of charge along with a FREE 60-Day subscription depending on the size of your database.

The FREE CLINICs will take place at Office Divvy on Thursday, October 27th (5:30-7PM); and Saturday, October 29th (1 - 2:30PM).  To reserve your space in bonus free clinics, call 386.445.4153

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