To the Editor:
GIBA and its Board are bringing us three new bridges which will be safe, functional and aesthetically pleasing for a projected seventy-five years. During the last five years, and including the coming October toll increase, the board will have raised the cash toll from $4 to $6, a 50% increase, the discounted tolls from $2.25 to $3.90, and annual passes from $450 to $780, both reflecting a 73% increase.
Proceeds from these increases have allowed us to repay previous debt (from the purchase of the bridges) and to finance both the design of the two fixed bridges and part of their construction.
All of us who live on this island, whether we use the bridges twice a week or twice a month or not at all, are dependent on them. All of us. The food we eat, the services we use, the thriving shops and the value of our real estate all enhance our island life and depend on our bridges. Therefore, we should all pay for the bridges through an ad valorem real estate tax.
You may never borrow a book, but taxes support a library. You may never experience a fire, but taxes support the fire department. You may declare that you hardly ever leave the island, but all of us are served by the island bridges.
Those who live here year-round will pay more in tolls, annually, than those who live here only in season. Summer and winter, our bridges will continue to serve the whole island, not only those who are here. They will support real estate values as well as the infrastructure that makes this island attractive.
Most importantly, for the first time, the 3 new GIBA bridges will be 30 feet wide, allowing more rapid emergency response time (no waiting until a bridge traffic lane clears), for urgently-needed emergency medical, fire and law enforcement protection services to travel faster to and from our island.
Another added benefit is that the higher bridge weight limits for all three new bridges will now permit much larger fire and emergency rescue vehicles. These advantages significantly improve the safety and protection of our island community and its tallest dwellings all year long, whether we are here or away. These improved weight limits should also help lower costs for several island business services. Indeed, the bridges serve us all and benefit us all. We should all pay the bridge bill through a toll-and-tax combination. A small .3 mil tax would generate approximately 33% of the estimated required additional revenue, the balance coming from tolls.
This point of view is mine and does not necessarily reflect that of the board.
Thor JohnsonGIBA board member since December, 2008Boca Grande
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