Summer is a great time to visit the beach whether you’re a visitor or a resident! Our trademark sun, sand and beach fun are all here without the crowds, so you can move around the beach easily and have a big patch of sand all to yourself. We have temperatures in the 90’s every day and some rain each afternoon.
This is the time of year that many islanders start to think of visiting family and friends up north. We love our island, but a break for cooler weather can look pretty good about summertime. After months of hard work, some time off is good for us all.
But time off need not involve travel. The economy and the hassles of travel can lead to a decision to stay in town for your vacation time. This concept is so popular, there is a word to describe it: staycation. You can stay in your own community and enjoy the attractions and activities that you don’t have time to enjoy when you’re working. Sleep in your own bed every night, or check out a local hotel or give camping a try. Check out the water parks and pools in the area, take a kayak out on the back bay, try parasailing. People come to our area from all over the world to do these things. Most of us who live here, work so much that we don’t have time to do the things that attract people to our island.
Maybe we should take some time this summer to try some of them out.
With visitor numbers down during the summer season, supporting our local businesses is more important than ever. Our beach businesses depend on our patronage to survive the summer months. And what better time to stop in not only your favorite spots on the beach, but a few new ones also? Get your friends together and plan to visit every restaurant and bar on the beach at least once between now and October 1. The ultimate beach pub-crawl, with some great food thrown in! Just don’t try to do it all in one night please.
This is a great time to remind Islanders to shop local. Heading north for a few days or a few weeks? Bring along some unique beach items from one of our local gift shops. How about a classic beach t-shirt? Or some beach jewelry? If you haven’t been in our beach shops recently, spend some time browsing, you may find the perfect gift for someone.
Summer is also budget time for all of our government entities. By early August, all of them must submit their tentative millage rates to Lee County so that TRIM notices can be sent out.
Sure as the sun rises in the east, when those TRIM notices land in mailboxes, there will be a hue and cry that the millage rates are too high. “The Council/ Board/ Commission is trying to put one past the taxpayers.” “Why don’t they explain their budget?”
We hear these comments every year.
Where are those people this summer? While it’s true that the official Public Budget Hearings will be held in a couple of months, the process of setting budgets has already begun. If you are interested in what those budgets look like, the time to start paying attention is now.
It’s easy to just react to the total millage rate as too high. It’s much harder to understand what goes into those rates and where the tradeoffs are between lower rates and less service. Those are the tough decisions.
There is a taxpayer faction that will only be satisfied with a millage rate of zero for every line on their tax bill. Those people will be unhappy with anything else. That is unrealistic.
For the rest of us who want to be sure that we’re getting the most service for the least tax, understanding the budgets that determine our tax millage rates is a crucial first step in understanding our tax bills.
The people we’ve elected to serve on the governing boards of the various taxing bodies are currently involved in their annual wrestling match with budgets now. Tentative budgets are under discussion. Millage rates are being proposed. The information is available to every taxpayer now.
We list upcoming government meetings each week in the Sand Paper and attend and report on Town Council, Fire District and Library District meetings. We are doing our part to keep you informed.
Make time to attend budget workshops now and Public Hearings in a couple months so that when you write that tax check, you truly know what your money is supporting.
Be an informed taxpayer.