City of Fernandina Beach Runoff Election Group 4 Candidate Questionnaire: Mike Lednovich
Please provide an introduction and summary of your qualifications.
As a business performance consultant for the past 18 years, I’ve guided companies and organizations in achieving excellence. My clients have included Disney World, the Philadelphia School District and Pratt & Whitney.
When the leadership group of the Orange County/Inland Empire California Make-A-Wish Chapter imploded, I was asked to step in and help. I ran the chapter for a year, while leading MAW in a search for a new president. I reorganized operations to be more effective and competitively bid all our contracts. These and other changes enabled the new president to hit the ground running. Today, the chapter is granting a record number of wishes.
I was the CEO of a $40 million company that built fire stations, school and courthouses. I have extensive knowledge of public works projects.
My most recent client was bringing in $12 million in revenue but earning less than a penny per dollar of profit when they contacted me. Working with the management team, we identified key metrics for success and then reviewed the “Success Scoreboard” weekly. In just three years, that profit margin skyrocketed to a 7% profit margin.
As a corporate executive of Freedom Communications, a mid-sized media company, I chaired the Corporate Leadership Committee and the Corporate Strategic Directions Committee that was instrumental in growing the company from $500 million to just under $1 billion in value.
For fours years, I taught strategy and leadership for executives and managers at a Southern California university.
Prior to my executive management work, I was an award-winning journalist. I’ve covered both city governments and Port Everglades. I understand the challenges governments face and how their operations work.
I have attended more than 24 City Commission meetings; 12 Port of Fernandina meetings and more than 50 various City advisory boards/committee meetings.
I know the issues facing the City and how to achieve success to finding and implementing solutions.
What do you perceive as the three greatest issues facing the Fernandina Beach business community? Please explain each.
- Workforce shortage. Local business owners have told me repeatedly that they have found themselves struggling to recruit experienced, qualified workers with skills necessary to fill their open positions. It's a problem not isolated to Fernandina Beach.
- Cyclical economy -- top heavy reliance on tourism as the economic engine
- Perception that City government is not business friendly
- Affordable workforce housing
How should the City of Fernandina Beach handle increasing and decreasing tax revenues caused by the normal economic cycle? Please explain.
This is a complex question, but here are the root issues:
- An in-depth examination of Fernandina’s fiscal policy space (FPS) is needed. The FPS is the Three principal attributes of Fernandina's capacity to adapt to changing economic environments. They are: (1) the state-local framework, including most importantly the constraining effects of the state and the state’s financial support of Fernandina; (2) the alignment between the City’s economic base and its fiscal architecture; and (3) the demands of the City’s citizens and customers to provide an acceptable level of services. Well run cities attempt to design a fiscal architecture that is stable over the course of a business cycle. Property tax has the upside of being generally stable over time, rising incrementally during growth periods and declining relatively slowly during recessionary periods. This is due to the periodic assessments of properties that are reflected in tax bills many months or even years after the assessment is completed. Many cities are adopting revenue safeguards such as having raised substantial revenues from a telecommunications tax. Only by understanding the FPS lens of the City, can intelligent decisions be reached in regards to increasing/decreasing tax revenues.
- State funds historically have been 7%-to-17% of the City's funding. During down years of funding, adjustments are obviously required.
- Another dynamic to consider in local fiscal revenue capacity is the extent to which the City’s choice of taxes and fees are aligned with the City’s underlying economic base or what is considered to be the city’s economic engine. Poor alignment can result in the over-reliance of local revenues on certain sectors, sometimes taxing that sector too high, can result in economic inefficiencies and other adverse outcomes. Again, This requires a "deep-dive" into the City's FPS model.
- More troubling and concerning is the City's practice of delaying infrastructure projects. Research clearly demonstrates that infrastructure maintenance is often a casualty to economic slowdowns and reduced revenue flows. While deferring maintenance costs saved City resources, the effect of such actions is to place future City budgets in even more jeopardy, thereby constraining the future fiscal policy space of the City. The infrastructure needs -- Updated fire department facilities; refurbishment of Historic Downtown; renovation of the Atlantic and MLK Recreation Centers; sidewalks/lighting/streets; etc. are now daunting.
Please rank your budgetary priorities for the City of Fernandina Beach? (1 being the most important)
Social programs and services 7
Historic Preservation 4
Accumulate money in reserves 8
Road Improvements 5
Workforce/Affordable Housing 9
Parks & Recreation 6
Conservation and green space 1
Marina Improvements 3
Please check the box that most closely reflects your assessment of the following issues. In general, in Fernandina Beach, is there too much, too little, or the right amount of:
Taxation About Right
Government Rules & Regulations About Right
Environmental Regulation About Right
Growth Management/Land Use Regulations About Right
Please briefly explain.
The necessary ordinances and regulations are in place. Problems exist in the City's ability to enforce and hold violators accountable to adhering to what's already on the books.
I support residential development in downtown Fernandina Beach.
Numerous studies have shown that residents living in a downtown sector adds to the economic vitality of the downtown. We should continue to promote and build on that model.
I support commercial development/redevelopment in Fernandina Beach.
- Establish regular occurring public events that showcases downtown merchants, music, and food. Citizens/tourists are more likely to visit downtown for shopping/dining/entertainment on other occasions and are more likely to consider living downtown or perhaps locating their business downtown. An added benefit of these events is that they engage our local merchants, artists, and entrepreneurs, helping to make our business people champions for Historic Downtown revitalization. 2. Create a family-friendly "kids zone" section within the waterfront park. Adopting a top-notch downtown playground can be a truly transformative strategy, particularly if it’s part of a broader initiative to make downtown Fernandina Beach more family-friendly and kid-friendly. 3. Improve our walking/biking corridors. Fernandina doesn't have a parking problem -- we have a walking/biking problem. Upgrades to our street lighting and sidewalks are the cornerstones to promote more walking for residents and visitors. Front Street requires major work to make it walkable and safe at all times of the day. 4. An interesting idea I ran across are "Revolving Loan Funds." Smaller town investors and businesses often don’t have a large amount of cash on hand to deal with the costs of property rehabilitation and renovation. Revolving loan funds can help fill the gap by providing capital to one property or business owner, who pays back the loan over time to replenish the funds which can then be lent to others who are working on another building or commercial space. These loan funds can be capitalized by local governments, private financial institutions, federal grant programs, or local philanthropic organizations.
How do you recommend the City works to fill the gap of housing availability for the workforce?
Unfortunately market conditions have made Amelia Island and the City a destination location. As such, real estate values continue to escalate at a rate exceeding the average worker's wage capacity to afford housing on the island.
That means the workforce must chose affordable real estate "off island."
The solution is instituting in partnership with Nassau County, a worker transit system to allow off-island workers an affordable means to commute to work and return to their residences. Both the Ritz and Omni have such a system in place for employees.
What are your ideas for long-term goals and objectives related to the downtown water front?
- Finish the repairs of the southern Marina
- Establish a regular dredging schedule to prevent the buildup of silt in the southern basin.
- Repair the northern fuel dock and pump out station
- Begin a funding plan to match the $1.5 million grant to expand the northern docks
- Select one of five waterfront park designs already in place and build the waterfront park with funds from the Parks & Recreation impact fees
- Complete the waterfront with a vision for property on the north end and partner with Main Street and Economic Development to develop that property in a manner that enhances the waterfront experience for residents and visitors alike
- Put the marina operator on a performance-based contract in order to make the Marina self-sufficient and revenue generating.
How do you recommend that the City enhance public transportation?
See answer to #8 above. Let's begin with an "off island" transit system that can shuttle workers to their jobs. We can build on that system to transit tourists/visitors from a central City location to beaches and Historic Downtown.
We should also promote bike sharing programs and bicycle rikshaws to increase the mobility of people to various locations in the City.
Last year, the Chamber of Commerce launched a new and updated Business Resource Center. Services include resources, mentoring, education, advocacy and now co-working, meeting and video conferencing services. What role does the City of Fernandina Beach play in supporting the programs and services offered by the Chamber of Commerce to support local businesses.
The City needs to improve its relationship with the business community by being proactive with the Chamber in fostering healthy business conditions. The City is in essence a service organization. City services supporting local businesses should be first class.
Additional comments you would like to share with the business community.
My entire professional career has been driven by achieving and sustaining excellence. We have a great city and community in Fernandina Beach. I will work full-time as your City Commissioner to preserve our island paradise and meet head on the challenges we face over the next four years. In this runoff election, experience really does matter.
Name: mike Lednovich
Email Address: vote4Lednovich@gmail.com
Phone Number: 7143989824