Jim Barfield Talks About Issues Facing Brevard County

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ABOVE VIDEO: Jim Barfield, Republican candidate for Brevard County Commission District 2, talks about his background, campaign platform and his vision for the future of Brevard County. The Brevard County Commissioner District 2 includes Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Port Canaveral, Cape Canaveral, Avon by the Sea, Cocoa Beach, Snug Harbor, portions of Cocoa, Rockledge and Patrick AFB.

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I would like to take a moment and thank everyone for taking the time to read about some of the current issues facing our county and my opinion on them as a candidate for County Commissioner of District 2.

Indian River Lagoon

Without a doubt, one of the major issues that we must address is the condition of the Indian River Lagoon (IRL). The IRL is definitely not the same as when I was growing up in the 60s when we would oyster, clam and shrimp. Now there are only 1% of the oysters and clams there were in the 60s and 70s.

opinion-180Stretching 156 miles through 5 counties, we are at a critical point that if not addressed, will seriously impact our county and our economy. In Brevard County, the IRL positively affects our economy with over 3,100 jobs and $1.2 billion in economic benefits.

We must stop the input of pollutants and restore the IRL. This will require funding from state and federal sources; coordination with multiple agencies, cities and counties.

Therefore, it is very important that the County Commission designate one commissioner to coordinate with stakeholders and represent the commission on IRL activities with other counties, state, federal agencies. We must reduce the untreated stormwater entering the lagoon from the over 1,500 stormwater outfalls and identify failing septic tank systems and repair or replace.

In addition, we must identify and remove muck based on the environmental impact and risk and develop a long-term removal plan with accurate estimates. All of this requires funding approvals and permitting which takes considerable time. So the excellent research needs to move into action quickly. Time is of the essence.

Budget Control

One of the most important responsibilities of the Board of County Commissioners is to approve and appropriate the budget. Although business and government are different, basic business principles are effective in government spending and budgeting. In my business, I challenge my staff on the budget and cost estimates to make sure that the exact resources are planned-no more and no less. I see no reason why this cannot happen in government.

To approve the budget, the County Commissioners should challenge budget line items and require full explanations when needed. In addition, the performance measures should be reviewed along with the required staffing. By the charter, the BOCC determines and appropriates the budget. In my opinion, the BOCC must fully engage, understand the budget, the budget build-up and require full explanations with calculations when needed prior to approval.

I also believe that our county should get in a position to plan ahead and allocate accordingly just as successful businesses do. We have to get away from the yearly, stove piped budgeting and spending mentality and work towards a future. We should require a five year plan with estimates for all operational and administrative functions in addition to the current capital improvement plan. This plan will provide the vision and a clear direction to allocate funds for future needs.

To continue the forward thinking, I believe we should move to a two year budget to provide visibility into the future and align with the plan. To reduce the costs of non-essential county functions we need to explore competing these functions among local businesses to provide these services. Finally, I believe that County Commissioners must hold the line on taxes, even in the midst of increases in health insurance, pensions, Medicaid and other mandates. Our County Commissioners must make the tough decision to cut costs instead of raising taxes.

Economy and Jobs

I fully understand the impact business has on a community. My company, Luke & Associates, Inc. has employed as many as 1,500 employees in 32 states and 3 countries. In fact, in 2012, Luke was ranked by Inc Magazine as #22 out of the top 100 job producing companies in the U.S. as a Hire Power Award winner.

With 1,500 employees, with an average take home pay of $75,000; $112,500,000 per year is put directly back into the local economies. A thriving local economy has the effect of increasing tax revenue so our tax rates do not increase and can be reduced.

We must work towards building the economy from two fronts: pursue new companies for the area and make it easier for existing companies to grow. New companies or major expansions will continue to infuse additional revenue into the economy, resulting in even more jobs, growth in small businesses, increases in property values and sustained growth.

I also believe that a thorough assessment of the county ordinances and regulations should be undertaken and recommendations made to the BOCC. Excessive regulations, fees and procedures need to be identified and eliminated or reduced. This review could be accomplished within the community with representatives of each Chamber of Commerce, local universities and local business leaders. From this assessment, we can determine the changes needed and move forward.

Thank you again for taking the time to read about my opinions and views and remember to vote on August 26th.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jim Barfield’s parents moved their family from Georgia to Rockledge in 1962. Jim attended Rockledge Elementary, Kennedy Junior High, and Rockledge High School.

Jim Barfield

Jim Barfield

Barfield got his first job at age 11, delivering newspapers for the Cocoa Tribune. He has worked in Central Brevard ever since, where today he is the President and CEO of Luke & Associates, which he co-founded in 2004.

“It was exciting to grow up in Brevard County”, says Barfield. “Where else could you go to the beach and watch a launch sending men to the moon?”

While in high school in the late 60s and early 70s, Jim worked part time at the Brevard County Health Department, which got him interested in environmental and public health. After completing one year at Brevard Community College, Jim transferred to East Tennessee State University where he earned a degree in Environmental Health.

Upon graduation, Jim returned home and worked for the Brevard County Health Department as a Sanitarian in Environmental Health. When the space shuttle program was beginning, Barfield jumped at the opportunity to work at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in environmental health and safety.

In this role, he monitored the workplace to protect the health of workers. While working at KSC, Barfield completed his Masters in Public Health at the University of South Florida. He then worked for Bechtel Corporation, where he focused on expanding aerospace business. He later worked for a local company in their NASA and DoD business line to expand and increase their business.

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