We’ve never had a Town Manager that was interested in Economic Development and many of us were very grateful to have someone attempting to do something, anything, that would interest investors and business people to invest in White Springs. And that person was and is Dr. Helen Miller.
White Springs Tax base for Ad Valorem Tax and other Revenues are low since we have fewer than 1000 residents; some 700 actually. Property values have declined as well due to a declining population. 70% of the properties in Town are of low value so they property generate taxes of $100 or less per year; with the other 30% paying the bulk of Ad Valorem taxes.
Again if we could have a Fire Department Service Fee of $100 per lot in White Springs, we would have money to have a working Fire Department. And following the law so we are not sued continually and require attorneys would be great as well.
One of the projects Miller was looking into was Signage on I-75 directing new visitors to the Town of White Springs. Approximately 75,000 people travel through this intersection on a daily basis and may be looking for a place to stop along the way. This lack of signage virtually makes our community invisible to motorists which are passing through the area.
We also do not have a Town Manager who has provided a marketing campaign touting the Town of White Springs and what it has to offer. Now the Town can complain about Helen Miller doing to much, but she represented our Town when no one else did. What did Rhett Bullard Do at the I-75 Meetings? He was busy on his cellular phone not paying attention to what was happening and Louie Goodwin had to apologize for Rhett. Rhett has no consideration for improving White Springs or jobs. He is only interested as an insider, if something can make money for him. And the sad part is that the Potash Corp’s closure will impact an already struggling community if we do not do something soon.
One of the major complaints is the noise, odor and safety issues associated with truck traffic on U.S. Highway 41. It was determined that it may be unappealing to visitors and potential businessowners.
We have a Farmer’s Market owned by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services located near the I-75 interchange that sees very little use and I believe is up for rent. It would be so great to even have a Flea Market off of I-75. The Flea Markets in Ocala and Belleview make a fortune and draw many visitors; but we do not even have a swap meet any more at the Hardware Store. The farmers Market is not a good site for potential businesses however, because it does not have potable water and wastewater, but would be a great location for a farmers market, flea market operations.
We are fortunate to have a State Park in the middle of White Springs and various camp sites but it would be wonderful to have a few more businesses in White Springs.
The Town draws in a substantial number of cyclists, bikers, hikers, water sport and fishing enthusiasts; but is unable to benefit financially due to limited lodging and restaurant availability. Lack of Town Revenue to Support Full Time Marketing Staff for Tourism Center Marketing is an issue for the Town because they are unable to invest much needed resources for creating awareness and promoting the town. With improved revenues, the Town may be able support a full-time marketing and economic development professional because it is obvious that our Town Manager will not assist in that endeavor nor will the good ole boys like Rhett Bullard because they like White Springs, just as it is. It is easier to keep the African-American community in tact as well because there are not jobs and sticking them on welfare is what has always been done.
In any event, many absolutely great ideas Helen Miller has had for Economic Development have failed; but not because of anything she did. Rather it is the Town Fathers and Mothers, Like Rhett Bullard, Tonja Brown and Willie Jefferson, who do not wish any change even if it would benefit White Springs’ economy and livelihood. We have a Town Manager who really doesn’t appear give a damned about our Town and it is rare for her to even go to a ribbon cutting or an event where she isn’t scowling at everyone who is there..
Karin for the blog