To the Editor:
I agree with many of the observations Skip Perry made in his well-written letter of May 11 to the Boca Beacon. However, I felt a bit uncomfortable with the tone of the article and, perhaps, being classified as one of those residents whose investment in the community did not extend “beyond a deed and a three-month winter vacation.”
I don’t believe for a second that an older generation of Boca Granders appreciated the island more than its current residents, and that an increased bridge toll would create a “downtown commercial district where real estate offices will take the place of old Florida restaurants, shops and grocery stores.”
Nor do I believe that attendees of the April 25 GIBA board meeting (Mr. Perry’s “Gang of Sixty”) anticipate or desire Boca Grande being transformed into a “soulless gated community.”
GIBA Finance Chairman Bill Holmberg, who did fine work on alternative funding for the bridge project, pointed out that there was a good deal of elasticity in a toll hike, and that the bridges would be paid for with or without an ad valorem tax. Mr. Holmberg and the consultants involved also stated that anticipated revenues from an increased toll would be sufficient to “repair, replace, or maintain the bridge and causeway.”
It would appear, then, that ad valorem taxes are not required.
Since the 2,000 legislative statute notes that “residents of Gasparilla Island are the primary users of the bridge and pay the majority of tolls collected for its continued maintenance,” then who, pray tell, will be paying for the majority of the bridge construction?
We will pay for it, as anticipated; our opposition is solely to an annual ad valorem tax which may not be necessary and will in all likelihood never come off the books.
The people of Boca Grande do have a “continuing responsibility” for the bridges and the causeway, and we will be paying via a toll increase to honor that responsibility. I think what most folks want is fairness as provided by “pay as you go.”
Jim ArdreyBoca Grande
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