Board of County Commissioner Andy Dance is running for re-election this year. Andy Dance has served Flagler County since 2008, with 12 years on the Flagler County Schoolboard, then resigning to run and hold office for the Board of County Commissioners. Dance spoke about his accomplishments in the school board, which included balancing a budget during the recession years, instituting the Citizens Academy, and the State of Education address which according to Dance is similar to a town hall. His accomplishments on the County Board including starting the Citizens Academy for the county, refining the processes to be more thoughtful and predictable and he said, being the common sense guy.
We asked Dance what he felt qualified him to continue to hold the County Commissioner seat, “I think you have to have a good understanding of your roles and responsibilities. I think our government starts to lose its way if the elected officials start to go outside the bounds of their roles, and don’t follow the proper procedures. So, qualifications can be many, and vary; for this run, I am going to use my track record. The decisions I have made all go through a thorough vetting process on all the issues that come before the commission. My biggest goal is to build trust between the voters and the local government. I think we’re ineffective if we don’t have and can’t build that trust between voters. I have taken the time to better myself with education, trainings through Florida Association of Counties, leadership roles and many different community organizations to try and learn from others.”
Transparency is one thing Andy Dance told us that he strives to provide. “I have always trying to make transparency and accountability my top initiatives. When I first got to the commission, it was vacating a right a way in the Hammock it was called Pamela Parkway. Administrator and commissioners had brought forward a plan to vacate a right away, close a right away, which was on the intracoastal waterway. But it was done with just working with the property owners who were affected along the water. But that waterway access, that right away, was an access for the entire community and the entire community wasn’t part of the process until the agenda was published. And they didn’t ask for the community’s input and I thought it was important those people bought homes and invested a lot of money for it to be in that location, that had a right away dedicated on the intracoastal. We got it postponed to get some public input, and as we got public input, it ended up being denied and there’s opportunities now to be able to improve that access.”
Dance continued explaining how the Flagler County area has made vast improvements in the area of intergovernmental cooperation. He explained how over the years, the county, the different city governments and even the school board have been able to build stronger working relationships with each other.
With that, we asked Dance to tell us what he felt were the biggest concerns for Flagler County in the upcoming years. “Well, we have growth , which is an issue that everybody is concerned about, that we grow properly. And we make sure that our infrastructure is keeping up with growth. Both the city and the county are in the midst of upgrading and modifying their comprehensive plans which is an important document that guides future growth. Public input in that process is critical.”
Dance continued on, when we asked about the sustainability of the development pace in Flagler County, “Development is a function of the market supply and demand and it’s all of the decisions you make that affect the availability and pricing, it’s a complex problem. I think I will fall back on the fact that as we address our comp plan and land development code, it’s an opportunity for us to look at how we are going to grow. As we go through those processes with the comp plan and codes, we can address those.” When we brought up the new developments being approved on Old Kings Road, and the congestion issues that the area faces when I-95 is closed down, Dance responded, “We are cognizant of that, at least on a county level. We’ve addressed and looked at the potential of four laning Old Kings, because of instances on 95 where the traffic is redirected. So we do have to think about making sure that an incident on 95 doesn’t just shut down the entire county from emergencies stand point.”
Many residents have spoken out about the tax increases that happened over the last year, so we asked Dance to tell us how he plans to tackle the balance between the county’s budget needs and the taxpayers who would like to less taxes. “That’s the entire budget process weighing demands and services for the public and the amount of money that you know that you get from the different pots local, state and federal. We’re working on economic development incentives right now at the county level. One of the solutions for long term sustainability and less reliance on the residential property taxes is to get more industrial and commercial development and high wage high paying jobs and the taxes that come with commercial development. That is the key way to be less reliant on our residential property tax base. Our long term residents are buffered somewhat by homestead exemptions and the Save Our Homes. I like to think what we do during the entire budgeting process is trying and balancing the services with the revenue at the county level. We’ve had ten years of progressive millage reductions and we want you to know, we set budget guidelines early in December, we started our budget process and identified millage reduction as one of our key issues.”
Lastly we wanted to hear Dance’s stance on the beach re-nourishment project. “Well, we’ve seen firsthand the problem that arises without proper protection of the dunes system. Again, where we are catching up from where a beach re-nourishment or a beach management plan wasn’t enacted until recently, in the past couple of years. So we’ve got a beach management plan that’s been adopted, and we’ve got all these different projects that are going on with the coordination of FDOT, Army Corps, and the DEP, and it’s these state and federal agencies that really determine how we protect the beaches. That is their main goal, coming up with options to protect the beaches. So in critical areas where the erosion has gotten way too close to A1A, FDOT has stepped up and there have been two instances where we’re doing sea walls to protect A1A where it’s at its most fragile. The other areas DEP and the Army Corps want natural re-establishment of the natural dunes. So that’s the process we’re under. They permit the dune restoration plan so they’ve identified that they need to be naturally restored. Currently, it’s pulling offshore sand and putting it onto the beach so that we can get sand that matched what people are familiar with. It’s a critical part of our infrastructure, it’s in line with you know water, sewer, roads. It’s an infrastructure because it is protecting the barrier island. It’s really not just protecting expensive homes that are built on the beach, but once a dune system breaks, the impacts of that break are significant. It can create new cuts from the ocean to the Intracoastal Waterway, it can bring saltwater intrusion into levels that aren’t healthy to the inland areas, or even create significant damage.”
You can find out more about Andy Dance and his platform by visiting his website here.