There have been a lot of questions regarding the Cape San Blas MSTU vote on April 12. I have put together some of the questions and answers that folks have been asking about it. Hope this helps everyone.

Dear Editor,

There have been a lot of questions regarding the Cape San Blas MSTU vote on April 12. I have put together some of the questions and answers that folks have been asking about it. Hope this helps everyone.

1.”How can you tell me how the continuing beach erosion on the Cape will affect my job?”

The Cape makes up 17 percent of all the jobs in all of Gulf county. Beach erosion of the cape will dramatically impact construction (people will be afraid to build) real estate (people will be afraid to buy), and the tourism business (people will hear the beaches are gone) It will affect all jobs. Without people buying something… there are NO jobs!

2. “How exactly will our tourism business be affected by the continuing erosion of the beaches?”

Fact….Tourists spend $30 million each year, most of it on the Cape. When homes begin to fall in and there are no beaches (word gets around) tourists will not come here. Passing the MSTU on April 12 will solve that. Tourists come here because of our beaches and rental homes. If the homes fall in and there is less beaches they will opt for another area, and the Cape will lose.

3. “You say my taxes will go up if beach erosion continues and homes begin to fall in the Gulf ….why would that happen?”

The Cape alone from the stump hole to the state park contributes 25 percent of all Gulf County taxes... If homes begin to fall in the Gulf and the erosion continues, there are fewer homes paying taxes. Less tax revenues means the county has to make up the difference so your taxes go up to the maximum millage. The passage of the MSTU can help guarantee that taxes do not bleed us dry!

4. “Everyone who lives on the Cape knows the stump hole is a very weak link keeping the gulf from breaching into the bay. Any storm could send Gulf waters surging into the bay…..What impact would it have on the bay?”

The bay has its very own delicate ecosystem. A breach of Gulf waters surging into the bay at the stump hole would change the bay forever. The salinity would change instantly killing bay grasses where scallops nest. Many species of fish and aquatic animals would take a major hit. Currents and sand would see major changes and shifts. In all probability erosion would begin on the bay. With a breach of surging Gulf waters the road would be wiped out and folks would not be able to get off the cape. The MSTU addresses this weak link at the stump hole and replenishes the eroded sand. Also an offshore barrier project is planned for this area.

5. “My home is near Scallop Cove on the bay side so there is no erosion. I heard that if we do nothing to stop the erosion and do not pass the MSTU on April 12 property values will tank and taxes will go through the roof…..True?”

It does not matter where your home is located, Gulf front, interior, or bay side, the continued erosion will affect all of us. Currently between the stump hole and the park, it is estimated that $40 million worth of homes will be claimed by erosion. If this erosion continues at this alarming rate we all will take a severe hit. Property values would tank, new home building would cease, and taxes would go up dramatically. The more homes that fall in, the less taxes can be collected. Based on the 2015 budget that would mean a permanent loss of taxable income to the county of $280,000, and you know who would have to make it up! The school board would lose $277,000, and our fire departments would lose $17,000.The MSTU passage is the only way to stop this tax disaster from occurring. If this MSTU fails, you can guarantee our taxes will be raised to the full millage for EVERYONE on the cape. To add insult to injury, we would have no beaches and possibly no way past the stump hole to drive out to the cape! Now I ask you doesn’t it make more sense to pass the MSTU, than face a disaster?

6. “ I understand that this MSTU vote will only be decided by the 278 registered voters from the stump hole to the state park …is this correct?”

Yes you are right. Currently there are 278 registered voters from the stump hole to the state park. If the MSTU does not pass there are no other options for stopping this erosion of the beach and saving homes from falling in the gulf right now. Now a few folks who live on the bay or interior on the Cape have said “that is the Gulf front problem.” Believe me nothing could be further from the truth. It is our entire problem for ALL of us that live on the Cape.

7. “How important economically is Cape San Blas to Gulf county and what impact will this continued erosion have on all of us if the MSTU fails to pass on April 12th?”

Annually tourists spend $30 million dollars on the cape. In addition to this the cape annually contributes $16 million in new construction, and $7 million in second homes. Now if this MSTU fails to pass all of us on the Cape will without doubt see an eroding lifestyle. Property values will decline. Declining values means higher taxes to cover the shortfall. Unemployment will surely spike due to a decline in construction and tourists.

8. “I understand that the last MSTU vote in 2015 lost by only 3 votes…is that right?”

You are right. The MSTU lost by only three interior votes. The majority of the votes were in favor of the MSTU; however each district (Gulf front, interior and bay side) had to have a majority.

9.” What exactly is the MSTU and what will it do?”

A MSTU (municipal service taxing unit) is a way for a community like ours to create a special tax district like ours to help (with county commissioners approval) pave the way for generating the funds for vital beach nourishment. Once we pass the MSTU then it sets in motion matching funds from the state so the project can begin to save the cape from the ravages of erosion. The MSTU will ONLY be in effect for 7-10 years and then will be retired. The cost for the MSTU at this point is as follows and will decrease as new homes are built and inventory on the cape grows, for every new registered voter.

Bay side homes $138.88 per $100,000 assessed value per year

Interior homes $ 151.83 per $100,000 assessed value per year

Gulf Front homes $182.22 per $100,000 assessed value per year

I don’t know about you but I see NO alternative for saving what all of us worked our entire lives for, our current lifestyles on our beloved Cape!

Now some folks will not face the facts that our Cape needs help. They will take the “ostrich approach” and stick their heads in the sand believing nothing is happening…… here’s hoping there’s enough sand left for them to do it!

10. “Will Gulf county help in financing our beach re-nourishment effort?”

Unfortunately Gulf county being a rural county does not have the available funds to help. They support our efforts, and are working with numerous state agencies to obtain additional funding. In addition, our TDC (Tourist Development Council) continues to contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to a special beach fund for the cape

11. “What does our state government think about our efforts? Are Governor Scott, Senator Montford, and Representative Beshears in favor of this? What about the various departments like DOT and DEP, what do they say?”

Governor Scott, Senator Montford and Representative Beshears are 100 percent behind us in backing our MSTU. The department heads of DOT and DEP are also on board. Also currently there is a pilot project that is coming up for a vote in the state senate that would install off shore reefs near the stump hole.

This is a win-win for all of us on the Cape!

Also mark you calendar for Tuesday, March 22 for the SAVE THE CAPE PARTY at the Haughty Heron. It starts at 6 p.m., there will be a band, and a FREE drink. (beer or wine) for all Cape voters who are registered to vote for the MSTU. We welcome ALL of you from Gulf county to attend and show YOUR support for save the Cape...Save the Bay...Save Gulf county...

Gene BeHage
Director, Coastal Community Association
Cape San Blas