Kathy Austrino is a 20 year resident of Flagler County, and owns Tag Ventures Real Estate Services. Her business is not just real estate but there is a portion of her company that works out of the county in the construction industry as a sub for other builders. We sat down with Kathy to discuss her position on a handful of important topics currently facing the City of Palm Coast.
We asked Kathy to tell us how she feels about running for city council as a Realtor, especially with many residents taking an issue with the current realtors on the council. “That’s unfortunate. What they should be is anti-corruption and it’s in all industries. I am not corrupt. I understand people looking with judgy eyes, I get it. But all I can do is plug away and keep mind of my own, that is all I can do,” Kathy said.
When asked what the biggest issues in Palm Coast were, Kathy explained, “Traffic. Traffic and the roads are huge. The flooding is a huge issue, it’s a complex issue too. It’s difficult to hear the city tell folks who have lived here for all these years, that it’s because of their home being built so long ago and how the work was done on their lot being the problem as opposed to the house that’s you know, three feet higher than them. And there is some truth to that, but it’s that is not the answer, and it’s now what we tell people or what we should be telling people. And Frankly I’ve heard enough of the finger pointing and the reasons, and I don’t want to use the word excuses because it makes it sound like it’s just talk, but I just want to focus on the solutions for these folks.”
The pace and sustainability of developments being constructed and approved in Palm Coast has some residents concerned about the impact and sustainability of Palm Coast’s infrastructure, utilities and even emergency services. We asked Kathy where she stood on the pace of the development in Palm Coast. “I want to be honest, because I don’t want to tell anybody, ‘I’m going to do this or that for some vote’. A lot of people are not going to like my answer; but yes we need the development. We absolutely do. We need it controlled and we need it smart. I think that certain areas have roads that need attention, like the south side of town, if we are adding a whole neighborhood. All our roads need absolute attention because of the influx of folks. On the other hand, we need younger families here. I’m not working forever and if we are paying all our own taxes based on just us here, we are never going to retire, and I don’t want to work forever. Development isn’t an evil necessity, it just has to be planned out.”
As previously mentioned, the new bouts of flooding in Palm Coast, in the existing neighborhoods, whenever construction on a new infill lots begins is one of the big issues among many residents in Palm Coast. The Palm Coast City Council voted to enact a city council as well as adopted a myriad of new and updated codes to the technical manual while simultaneously voting down the 45 day pause on building. We asked Kathy if she had any different thoughts or ideas on how the situation should have been handled. “I believe we have wonderful staff, but I do question if we are drawing out from them, the highest level of customer service that I believe is in them. I love that Ed put the committee to the table. I believe we need more community involvement. It will lessen the anger and it will allow for more ideas, a variety of folks coming to the table. Not everybody is seeing the exact same situations. I love that; I don’t love how long I fear it may take. I really would like to see things sped up as far as customer service scenarios. Teresa’s letter was fantastic; it truly was, she had no choice but to do that. If I were on the dais, I wouldn’t have supported the absolute shutdown. I would support her bringing it to the table. I love that it was discussed, I loved that it is something that if push comes to shove it will be considered. My company is not just a real estate, we have a branch that works out of county as a sub for other builders. If that builder gets shut down, I get shut down. So we could work for maybe a few weeks, but it’ll catch up and then who knows how long it will be before we get back to work. So if you shut down a builder you shut down more than just one builder, you’re affecting the subs, and putting a good bit of people out of work.”
Transparency is one point that many residents have routinely stated they want to see more of in their elected officials; Kathy’s response to how she would bring transparency to the table was this, “Pretty much continue doing what I do. My office is here, and someone is here from 9 to 3:30. Anybody can walk in and you’ll get my time. I am out in the community quite a bit.”
“I don’t know much about the people I am running against. I am just doing me, just being me, just a regular person that wants transparency up there. I want transparency, I want integrity, I want somebody who doesn’t need to be theatrical, but will ask questions that need to be asked and get the answer,” Kathy told us.
“I bring transparency and integrity. That is a huge piece that we’ve lacked for so many years. There was sort of a them vs us mentality. Then as the years went on, I feel like there’s sort of a merger of circles. Not exactly, but, you know, folks are becoming more comfortable in speaking up for themselves, which is fantastic. We can do it, without the anger, I would like to stop that. I think if we can stop the anger and if we actually stop and listen and provide the information it would be an asset,” Kathy explained as she finished up answering our questions.
To find out more on Kathy Austrino’s platform for yourself, you can visit her site here.