Flagler County has been meeting with municipalities as part of an economic development initiative to create a single, unified plan aimed at diversifying the tax base for the benefit of all its residents.
County Administrator Heidi Petito recently provided an update to the Board of County Commissioners about the work to date, which included an overview of the State of Florida – ranks 11th in the country as a place to business – and the competition that both the state and Flagler County face.
“Florida continues to make significant progress with promoting our state as open for business,” Petito said. “When you look at the state’s ability to bounce back from COVID and how quickly we were able to do that, I think it is a testament to the governor. Last year, as well as with this year’s proposed (state) budget, we’ve seen unprecedented funding going into technology, education, public safety, and infrastructure, so I anticipate that Florida’s ranking is only going to improve.”
Petito pulled data originally presented by CNBC: “America’s Top States for Business in 2022.” It scored all 50 states on 88 metrics in 10 broad categories of competitiveness.
“Each category is weighted based on how frequently states use them as a selling point in economic development marketing materials,” the report states. “That way, our study ranks the states based on the attributes they use to sell themselves.”
Florida ranked well for its economy, workforce, education, infrastructure, and the cost of doing business. It received a “C” ranking for access to capital and cost of living. It ranked poorly for business friendliness, as well as life, health, and inclusion.
Petito showed a U.S. map shaded by state (www.stateincentives.org) to give an indication of incentives offered at the state level, with Florida shaded to the mid-level in the United States and among the group of five viewed to be in close competition: North Carolina (ranked #1); Texas (#5); Tennessee (#6); Georgia (#10, though offering the most incentives); and, Florida (#11).
“You can see that state incentives are not totally driving the scores,” Petito said.
Petito then talked about Flagler County’s statistics – 86.9% of its tax base is residential, and only 8% combined, including vacant, is commercial or industrial. Flagler County ranks higher than state and national averages for construction and leisure and hospitality jobs. It also ranks below state and national averages for manufacturing and financial-related jobs.
The initiative – which started with an economic development retreat arranged by the county with the cities of Bunnell, Flagler Beach, and Palm Coast – is to prepare for countywide growth and will include collaboration with the Palm Coast-Flagler Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Northeast Florida Regional Council, and Jax USA.
“At the retreat we talked about how to deliver on each other’s expectations, and we’ve started to have quarterly meetings,” Petito said. “We will have a meeting … about Strategic Site Inventory (to strengthen competitiveness within targeted industries) with Enterprise Florida and FPL to identify greenfield sites (undeveloped areas, typically on agricultural land, sought after for the construction of manufacturing plants and other commercial projects).”
Petito mentioned other opportunities Flagler County has already established: Foreign Trade Zone #64 (Jax Port); Certified Economic Opportunity (Palm Coast); PACE Program; and, the Florida High Tech Corridor (Northeast).
Target industries have been identified as those that provide high paying jobs, such as: advanced/light; manufacturing; agritechnology; aviation and aerospace; financial services and financial technology; life sciences and health care; intermodal logistics (warehousing and distribution); and, corporate headquarters.
Petito proposed a number of potential incentives including: ad valorem tax incentive; customized packages (impact fee offset); fast track permitting; industrial development revenue bonds (industrial revenue bonds); “REV” Grant (Recaptured Enhanced Value Grant or Tax Increment Grant Area); tangible property tax abatement; wage incentive grant; and, public private partnerships (P3s).
“We want to make the county the most desirable within the region if not the state,” Petito said.
Joe D says
Watched the presentation live, and I WAS SO IMPRESSED with Ms. Petito’s data, statistics, comparison of our business incentives vs. other counties ( and States’) business incentives!
86% of the current tax money to run the County services comes from our PROPERTY TAXES ( no surprise there given the unbelievable $500/ year tax increase on my Flagler Beach 1150 sq ft , 2 bedroom 1.5 bath townhouse). My taxes this past year now total $6500 (not a typo)!
She suggested light manufacturing, and financial sector business encouragement along with potential Aviation interest in the local airfield. So many of the current businesses are hospitality and retail based, however given the low salaries, many of the current hospitality and retail employees can’t afford to live anywhere in the County, let alone Flagler Beach!
I thought her data was very thorough, and focused on bringing higher salaried jobs and businesses to balance the current lopsided Homeowners tax pays almost all services model.
What was concerning however was the slightly lackadaisical response from some of our County Commissioners! You would have to play back the video presentation to see what I’m talking about.
She made what I thought were very well thought out suggestions for expanding the current tax base by offering incentives for number of employees and careful use of existing land.
I’m HOPING the combined efforts she was hoping to accomplish by bringing together multiple town promotion groups together to create a uniform marketing packet for which municipalities offered which types of incentives and bringing that to a centrally accessed portion of our County Website, giving interested business people information relating to moving to Flagler County
Bravo Ms Petito!
Very well stated.
And the real problem: people want to have their cake and eat it too.
Speaks for itself
LAW ABIDING CITIZEN says
Joe D: Don’t you think your view is somewhat one sided, living in a small beach town (what people refer to nowadays as Paradise) is a luxury and a high tax is what you pay for living that in that Paradise. Happens in all small beach towns all over the country people pay high taxes for that lifestyle, it doesn’t come cheap. I find it absurd after all the poor planning and development here in Palm Coast without the proper infrastructure and as the poorly planned overdevelopment continues that every plot of greenspace that is left will be gone soon also. And now they are identifying greenfield sites (undeveloped areas typically on agricultiral land) sought after for construction of manufacturing plants and other commercial projects. Well seems to me that will be Alfins western frontier since there is little left in Palm Coast to develop. This should be why some of the FCBOCC members are very concerned and should be. Plus they are collaborating with a commerce that went out of business does not speak much. Furthermore the airport is a little rinky dinky hole in the wall. This is all about putting more money into the hands of the rich, property taxes increase also because insurance companies raise rates , happens every year with car insurance too.
JOE D says
You are certainly entitled to your OPINION. Unfortunately in this day and age (especially in the political climate of Florida)….MONEY talks louder than most anything else…but to base an ENTIRE County budget on a level of greater than 86% of it being laid on the HOMEOWNERS Property taxes is UNFAIR….and unsustainable for the survival of FLAGLER County.
FACT correction: Your TAXES don’t go up every year because of insurance rate increases. They are two separate issues. Your TOTAL MORTGAGE payment may go up BOTH because of PROPERTY TAX increases AND insurance increases, but one doesn’t have ANYTHING to do with the other.
LAW ABIDING CITIZEN says
JOE D: Joe: You still live in a beautiful beach front community which goes along with high taxs, I know because I also lived in a beach front community and my taxes were more than my mortgage payments and increased every year, I mentioned insurance because attached to the mortage payments are flood insurance and your property insurance as well. It gets costly which is one of the prices to pay when you live in Paradise, besides the storms and floods and erosion of the shorelines, then it all goes up again all over the country. People who don’t live in these beach front communities also have to pay the price of these increases in insurance as well. My point is don’t trust that economic plan so much in thinkng that you will catch a break, bottom line they are all out to make money for themselves and to put more money in the pockets of the developers and the rich, sorry to burst your bubble, and all of this comes at a cost of more congestion, less green space, pollution, higher temperatures due to the less green areas, demise of our wildlife, I bet in 5 years no one will be seeing any red tail hawks or deer anymore, its going to look like Orlando.
LAW ABIDING CITIZEN says
Joe D: I also suggest that you read below about Greg Blose who is the head of the Chamber of Commerce,one of many who Petito is having these quarterly meetings, he only moved here 2 years ago, he has no history here, he never ran a NFP organization, he has an online degree, which is not a bad thing , but has nowhere the education, knowledge or experience of our currnet school superintendent which he spearheaded the demise of not renewing her contract because she is not a part of the good ole boys club. This whole thing with Petito would be great if done the right way with the right people but the current people she is running with are not for the taxpayers and residents in this county, it is another power and money grab for the rich.
JOE D says
Dear Law Abiding: I see your point, but I’m hoping that MAYBE self serving ideas and plans don’t ALWAYS govern plans (of course, given past experience, I could very much be WRONG). It’s just that the FLAGLER/PALM COAST area offers so MUCH for residents, tourists, and businesses.
Here’s HOPING that the new plans actually BENEFIT the ENTIRE community, and not just the MONIED FEW.
I guess we’ll see…. One way or the other!
LAW ABIDING CITIZEN says
Joe D: I like your optimism and I hope so too, but first we must vote out some and get in the right ones so that we can do this the RIGHT way!
Deborah Coffey says
And, this is exactly what has been ignored for years by Republican leadership: “Petito then talked about Flagler County’s statistics – 86.9% of its tax base is residential, and only 8% combined, including vacant, is commercial or industrial.”
Deborah: We’re moving forward together…try not to muddy the waters with Republican or Democrat. Focus on the future and the work needed to be done today. Good things are happening that have nothing to do with Republican or Democrat.
Oh my, is Mrs Coffey actually in support of giving incentive money to the rich to bring them to Flagler county.
…and then thinks this is a democratic move.
It has nothing to do with politics!
When someone is lauding Petitto for expectations of lower his taxes in a beach front property we are in serous trouble here. Your beach front property at $6,000 is not expensive versus a house in a Palm Coast canal at $8.500. So stop the winning and if you want to live in the beach you still have it cheap. To the contrary of your tax saving thoughts in the kind of planning offered by Pettitto is none brainstorm and has been tried before or we forgot about Bobby Ginn blocks of our Palmcoasters ocean front land traded for 200 acres in the swamps and a 200,000 check for the public access to the beach and the loss of our ocean front pool and cabanas Sun Sport membership amenity built by ITT to attract us to buy their homes. That county shameful trade to benefit Ginn Developer? Or his oversize hangar that he quit paying and we are still paying for, or the shameful Cakes Across America, etc. etc. I do not trust any proposal that any good old boy presents to us in this county as is always to benefit developers and NOT jobs creating projects. In reality initiatives like Petittos chats never helped to lower ad valorem taxes but increase them. Is the same brainwashing BS to the gullible. After 32 years of witnessing their shenanigan’s is harder to swallow. Anyone digesting this BS maybe a newcomer and if from CA worst yet, given the high taxes paid there.
Now again what I smell is a city, county and school board getting together to further f/up us all and they do it with the collusion of the now called bankrupted resuscitated new Regional Chamber driven by Chiumento, Lubby, Rizzo, and the other good old boys just to benefit more multifamily developments. Just look at names of who runs the current Chamber of uncommerce again after bankruptcy under Rebecca DeLorenzo after 4 years 2013 to 2017. They are all intertwined controlling the county and cities to benefit developers on our backs! Now even the Belle Terre Swim pool is on their scope with these 3 MAGA elected board members getting rid of an excellent superintendent just because she fought hard against Chiumento, his Chamber and developers to regain the exempted impact fees for about 20 years as I recall, that damaged the school needs as well as the infrastructure update we need to sustain the growth of multifamily and other housing in this county.
Yes I see the school board klasman trying to denied the Belle Terre Swim Club pool use to its membership and the community now and then will be to denied to the students as well and then the sell of the land “over being too expensive to maintain”. All will be to benefit some graft giving developer in our misery. None of the 3 elected Maga’s school board been here when ITT built our amenities to attract us to buy our homes and the use of that pool by the community should be a “grandfathering right” of that amenity over 40 years of use and as such untouchable! Just wait and see. Greed is killing this county and cities. Yesterday a regular week day in Flagler Beach was so crowded and nowhere to park and we were wondering what is going to happen when the city will loose its only green piece of land to that shamefully approved hotel will be built in it in the middle of town. Pettito grand stand presentation nothing new around here…before they were done to reel in the unconvinced residents in the Flagler County Auditorium…I remember watching Bobby Ginn blabbering us over his grandeaur plans and the only thing achieved were Palmcoaster’s loosing blocks of beach front so today the Hammock Beach Golf Course exist there and we still paying his oversized hangar mortgage ,while applauded by then chamber of un-commerce *(de- ja -vu). Our ad valorem taxes swill never go down or stop increase even if Elon Musk will open a Tesla Manufacturing here. He is always with his Space X shooting rockets weekly into space from our FL coast and our taxes keep growing simply because the frivolous spending to benefit the few in our pockets by those that our idiocy seat in office. All these local developers and their lawyers specially Chiumento have become rich afetr ITT left…when enough is enough? Now they keep moving and placing administrators to their like as they just did with the school superintendent. We attend meetings in droves and plead but they have no shame voting against our opposition.
LAW ABIDING CITIZEN says
WHAT A JOKE! The NEW Chamber of Commerce ( after the old one went out of business with Greg Blose as the Head ) was formed by Donald O’Brien (currently FCBOCC who intends to run for Renners seat, and Mullin cohort), Walsh ( owner of Palm Coast Observer) and last but not least Chuimento , Blose is still the head director. These are some of the same individuals that Petito is currently in collaboration with at her meetings. Greg Blose is the same person who spearheaded the demise of Cathy Middlestadt and who sent an email with a no confidence vote, he did not explain the basis of this vote in this email plus 2 members of the Chamber of Commerce was not present for this vote. They also conveniently based this no confidence vote relying on misinformation and did not even attempt to understand or provide context to data. Thy cherry picked the worst scores and ignored the better results. Not a single member of this board appeared at that Tuesday evening meeting, Blose was the only one who appeared to speak. The other was a BIGOT who claimed that the hiring of Mittelstadt was only due to the fact that she is a lesbian. So these are just a few of the individuals that Petito is meeting with to decide upon Flagler County’s fate. I’m sure that there are many more in in the likeness of these individuals this fiasco of BS. Don’t trust them as far as ou can throw them!
Been There says
Then you have to take into consideration that nothing was mentioned about the fact that O’Brien’s buddy Renner is the one who encouraged the initiation of HB 5 2023 to dissolve Enterprise Florida (EFI) and stop providing funding all the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) throughout the state. Neither was it mentioned how the county has barely any industrial-zoned land due to rezonings for residential PUDs, the land that is zoned industrial along US 1 has no infrastructure; the site inventory they are proposing was already done by Victor Leotta and found large parcels of land that COULD be rezoned from agricultural to industrial IF you could get all the individual owners to come to the same conclusion to sell (still no infrastructure); the business support programs (incentives) were already established and one approved by the council (listen to the January 13, 2020 council meeting) for Vidya Herbs minutes before O’Brien made a motion to dissolve the EOAC and walk the department director to the door for already having achieved all the items Ms. Petito referenced in her presentation. Just find the name van Eckert in the historic meeting minutes.
Now we are wasting time on what was already accomplished because the people mentioned in the previous post are playing kings while the tax payers’ money is going towards doing it all again and making it look like these are original ideas. No, not original ideas. All this and more was done between 2012 and 2020. Not impressed at all.