Brevard County Commissioner District 4 candidate Matt Nye discusses the most important issues facing the Space Coast and his plans to address them if he’s elected as a county commissioner. District 4 encompasses the Suntree/Viera area.
Matt O’Hern: What inspired you to run for Brevard County District 4 commissioner?
Matt Nye: Government at every level is completely out of control, and I can’t sit by and watch without doing anything any longer. I always knew it was bad, but because I didn’t actively engage in the process I didn’t know how bad it really was. A few years ago I met the Brevard Clerk of Courts, Scott Ellis. He showed me not just how outrageous things were here locally, but that one person with the courage to stand up and ask tough questions can make a tremendous difference. The wasteful spending I have witnessed at the local level in the last few years is staggering. I don’t know if it’s corruption or just plain stupidity, but it has to stop.
Property values are still falling, foreclosures continue to exceed 700 per month, unemployment figures will continue to rise as the effects of the end of the shuttle program are felt, but last November the board voted to extend a $3.2 million contract with AT&T for an additional *three* years without going to bid when the contract didn’t even expire until *August* of 2010! To make matters worse there were competing vendors in the audience saying they could save the county 40% off some of the same services! With the information the board had at hand there was absolutely no excuse for such a decision – it makes my blood boil every time I think about it, and this is just one example of dozens I have witnessed in the last few years. The taxpayers of Brevard County have been looted enough, and I aim to be the third vote to put a stop it.
Matt O’Hern: 2010 seems to be the year of the anti-establishment movement. When you talk to residents around Suntree and Viera, what are some of the recurring comments and complaints you hear about local politics?
Matt Nye: “Of the ones that will speak – and there are some that are so disgusted they won’t even talk about it anymore – the biggest complaints are spending and taxes, which are two of the primary catalysts for the Tea Party movement. People are upset about the fact they are making cuts in their personal lives to adjust to the economic downturn while government continues to lumber along doing the same old things and talking about finding “alternative” sources of revenue – which is just another way of saying “raise taxes”. From 1998-2008 the population of Brevard County increased by only 14% but county spending increased by 132% – that’s more than double the spending for only 14% more people. Now the board and county manager say they can’t go back to 2001 or 2002 spending levels, and people just don’t buy it. When you factor in decisions like the AT&T contract extension and all of the insane real estate purchases made over the last several years the board’s credibility when it comes to being a good steward of taxpayer money is near zero.”
Matt O’Hern: For the voters who want to know more about a candidates Real world” experience rather than political background, what would you point to as some of your biggest highlights in your professional career
Matt Nye: “While I currently hold a full time job as a Regional Director with Verteks Consulting, I still have my own web development company, and I have been self employed most of my adult life. Over the last 20 years I’ve owned a computer sales and service company, an Internet Service Provider, an event planning company, a mortgage brokerage business and a couple of title companies. I believe small business owners are the backbone of the economy, and I understand and appreciate the challenges they face, because I am, and always have been one.
I have also served on a lot of boards over the years, from Chambers of Commerce to professional trade associations, so I understand parliamentary procedure and the dynamics of a board environment. I have a unique blend of real world business experience, a solid understanding of economics and the role of government, and an understanding of how county government works – without being a political insider who is beholden to special interests.”
Matt O’Hern: Besides the jobs lost at NASA, what are some of the biggest challenges you see for Brevard’s future over the next year?
Matt Nye:”It is no secret that Brevard faces serious economic challenges in the coming years. In spite of knowing the shuttle program was going to end for six years, and millions of dollars spent on the Economic Development Commission, little has been done to make Brevard County a more business friendly environment. Small businesses are hamstrung by onerous regulations, builders are stuck with a permitting process that is slow and borders on ludicrous, and regular working people in Mims have to spend almost $1,500 for the privilege of having a hog in an area known as “Hog Valley”!
Property values continue to fall, and in spite of warnings from its own finance people and the Clerk of Courts, the board has continually voted to spend more than it is taking in the last few years, which has depleted our reserves. The problem is that you can only spend your savings once. The county now faces an unprecedented financial crisis that only a couple of the Commissioners appear to fully appreciate. It is my understanding the county might actually be in a cash flow crunch by October or November of this year – something the Director of County Finance warned of last year when the Commission voted to approve the final budget.
It is important to remember government doesn’t create wealth – only private enterprise creates wealth. Every dollar that is taken in taxes is a dollar less capital private enterprise has to work with, so the solutions to our economic challenges are really very simple – get government back to basics, cut wasteful government spending, and reduce taxes and regulations across the board for both businesses and residents. The reduced tax and regulatory burden will foster business and consumer activity across the board. It’s the same concept the Economic Development Commission advocates, except I want to do it for every business and resident in the county, not just for a handful of politically connected individuals and businesses. A rising tide lifts all boats.”
Matt O’Hern: As a fiscal conservative, what are some of the most glaring areas waste in Brevard’s budget that you would like to cut?
Matt Nye: “We must get back to basics. Everything must be scaled back, and I do mean everything. The fact is we won’t see property tax revenue like we saw during the bubble for a long time, if ever. The values we see now are the new “normal”, and we need to adjust our spending to reflect that. I do not believe, as at least two of the sitting Commissioners do, that increasing millage rates to maintain the same amount of property tax revenue is a valid option. To do such a thing in the midst of this recession – to tell hard-working men and women who have cut their budgets to make ends meet, that county government should not have to do the same – this is a slap in the face of every taxpayer in Brevard County.
The Commission has been warned every year for the last five years by its own finance department this was coming, and because it failed to cut incrementally, it will now have to do in one budget cycle what should have been done over a period of four or five. That means a budget that reflects 2001-2002 levels adjusted for inflation. It won’t be pleasant for any of us – services will be cut, and people will lose their jobs; but it is reality, and it is inescapable.
Specifically, we need to roll back the Cody pay raises – they never should have been done and are responsible for the shortage of library personnel and their reduced operating hours. We need to take a hard look at the salaries we are paying and how they compare to those paid in the private sector for similar jobs – based on what I have seen so far we appear to be paying higher than market wages for many administrative positions. We have to stop spending on park projects we have no business plan for and won’t have the money to staff.
We also have to take a hard look at our business processes and technology and look for ways to increase efficiency. I have been in the technology business for many of the last 20 years, and I can tell you there is tremendous room for improvement across the entire organization and especially in Information Technology – past efficiency commission and internal audits support that conclusion. The question is why aren’t those improvements being made?
There is no shortage of problems to be solved, and if the voters of Brevard County see fit to elect me I will roll up my sleeves and get to work solving them as the desperately needed third vote for common sense in Brevard County government.”For more info: Read our profile of Matt Nye and visit www.mattnye.com