Legal Name: Joe ScozzariAge: 50Place of Birth: (Not provided)Length of residence in Indian River County: 7 3/4 years in SebastianOccupation: Self-employed, Licensed All lines Insurance adjuster Catastrophe mitigation specialist, commercial roofing/ Construction consultantMarital status: MarriedChildren: 5 – 2 which live in Sebastian, 3 live in OhioGrandchildren: 2Spouse’s name: Julia ScozzariOccupation: Publix, Baker
Experience you feel is most relevant to serving in public office and why:
I have been self-employed for 27 years and have learned how to negotiate. I am fluent in reading of blueprints and aware of codes and Florida state statute. I am up on current events in our city; I have been involved with my community to better the overall quality of life for all residents. I am not afraid to ask the tough questions. I know how to save our tax dollars and spend them wisely to benefit our residents. I am “Boundlessly energetic and creative” as written by your competitor’s journalist. I use fact to make my decisions not fiction. I am a researcher by nature. I am not reluctant to lower our taxes and cut administrative perks to benefit the taxpayer.
Civic and Volunteer Leadership Experience:
President of “Cat trainer services” “Catastrophe Training Services” educates people in catastrophe mitigation. Our classes are usually $350.00 – $500.00 per student when we train for large construction and roofing firms throughout the nation. I have given my course to Sebastian residents at no cost and upon graduation, I have placed them in jobs (out of state) where they have and continue to earn 6 figure salaries even in today’s tough economic times. The majority of those I have trained do have to leave town and typically send their earnings back home to their families. This is my way of providing community service. Sitting on boards for years and not accomplishing anything but sitting on the board or working on a board at the whim of a council member that asked you to be on the board, is an injustice to our residents. People need jobs – I provide them. People need action not now not talk. I am a man of action for the people.
1. What is the biggest challenge facing Sebastian?
Our biggest challenge which needs our attention now is keeping our taxes low and or lowering them while providing services and convincing other council members to stop redundant spending in our city, while adding new services for our residents. It can be done, as we are over taxed in the city of Sebastian.
2. What is your vision for the Sebastian Riverfront area and what steps need to be taken to achieve that goal?
My visions of the Riverfront, are clear, small shops lining our Indian River road, catering to tourist, fisherman and our residents. Low roof top resorts, with enough rentable space to accommodate small gift shops and fine dining. I would also like to see a ferry from our riverfront to the island and I have been working and talking to several ferry companies to bring their services to our city. However, these improvements should be paid for by entrepreneurs, not our tax dollars. We cannot afford to be fooled by other candidates thinking that a Councilmember can bring in business by risking our tax dollars and throwing money at beautifying our Riverfront. All we can do as council members is offer referendum ballots to the public and hope they pass and then we can provide abatements to prospective business. If we look at other models where government has risked our tax dollars on pie in the sky ventures, there is clear proof, it just does not work. To think our city council members can create a Disney like tourist environment or even a smaller tourist environment that will pay back to our community or tax base, in these tough economic times in Sebastian and nationally is ludicrous. I feel we should invite entrepreneurs to our city, show them what we have to offer, reduce our land development codes, to make it easy for them to come in and set up, and let them bare the expense. As they prosper we can assist them by researching state and federal grants to improve our roadside appearance. The monies not used to beautify the riverfront can be used to put our resident to work on projects already underway here in Sebastian.
3. What is your position on CRA (Community Redevelopment Area) expenditure allocations in terms of how much is spent in business incentives and infrastructure improvements?
My thoughts on the expenditures and allocations for CRA funds are as follows. These monies should be used for all business in our city, I feel setting a separate district where only those in a specific areas are eligible for funds is unfair to the business taxpayers in our city that are outside the defined area.
I also feel our council and the committees that are responsible to make a determination of where the monies should be given, have undermined their own rules to benefit certain political careers, and have spent these funds uselessly with no benefit to the residents of the city.
Case and point: $48,000 to place billboards on I-95 to bring tourist to Wal-Mart and Captain Hiram’s was a bit premature and is a waste of our dollars. Keep in mind the $48,000 is a yearly cost. I am sure we could have requested Wal-Mart to add a few dollars to the cost and placed a small Wal-Mart logo on the sign. However, the money should be used to provide jobs for our residents that are unemployed as this would truly be continued redevelopment of our city. In simple terms I feel the CRA should be dismantled and readdressed as to what the funds should be used for and remove the separate district, we should be using the funding for the entire city and its prosperity.
4. One of the city’s efforts currently is to attract new tenants to the Sebastian Municipal Airport. If elected to council, what would you do to continue or change those efforts?
First and foremost, I would have staff look into alternative energy, solar or wind on our airport property, to reduce the cost of our city complex utilities. This would entice new business to move to our airport property. Have staff to seek out state and federal grants, which are millions of dollars in some cases. We should think of our future, with electric rates rising each year, we could set aside a small area of one to two acres and save any entrepreneur that is considering our area a great deal of money in utility expenses and who knows, we may be able to offer the alternative energy contractor, to rent some of our space for manufacturing of its goods and services using our new power plant as a model.
This would be the kind of light industry that I feel would conform to our city. I would also actively approach other light industry business, as an ambassador for our city and show them what we have to offer, that no other city in our county or surrounding county’s have.
5. What is your opinion of the Sebastian Clambake and how proceeds are delegated? What, if any, changes would you like to see for the annual event?
At this stage, The Clambake Foundation Inc and its new director Anjani Cirillo and other Directors/ Board members are serving our community well. The funds are being given to some great non profit’s. I believe this year they will be using some of the funds collected for the “By the River” adult living facility, this complex is a model and has been partially funded by county and state. I wish them luck and great success with it and understand it will benefit many low-income seniors.
The only thing I would like to see changed with this event is for it to grow to the point that we have to shut down more of our Indian River drive to accommodate more vendors and patrons that want to participate in our lagoon festivities.
6. Are there possibilities for partnerships or efficiencies by working with Fellsmere, Vero Beach or the county? If so, how would you like the city to work with those entities?
I’m sure there are always possibilities to work with our neighbors with the “Inter local agreement.” As the Sebastian city council changes this year, I believe we can all come to an agreement with regard to their request for growth. To me, any growth that is done in Fellsmere is a monetary value to Sebastian. Last year our prior Mayor chose to convince our council to file suit on Fellsmere. This year she is selling billboard space on I-95 to bring in tourists. Fellsmere’s growth will only enhance our tourism efforts as we have something Fellsmere does not have, that people will want to see and use – the riverfront and hopefully shortly, means to get to the inlet by ferry.
Any other comments?We must move forward cautiously in these trying times and not stagnate. We must provide Jobs for our residents; stop the subcontracting of our drainage repair jobs and swale trimmings. When we subcontract, we may save a few bucks today, but the loss of residents and local purchasing by those residents, only creates less money for us to work within our city budget. If we employ our residents and help them to save their homes, they will support our city and spend their money here, creating even if it’s minimal, a discretionary sales tax base that will help to drive our economy up.
I stand for smaller administrative government, lowering our taxes, creating innovative ways to save on our utilities buy going green, saving money in specific areas, and spending, to create Jobs for our citizens. I will not gamble with your tax dollars as others running for this office plan and state they will do, with pie in the sky visions of mega tourism in our bedroom community. “Do something” Help me, to help you. Vote for Joe Scozzari for Sebastian City Council, I will not let you down.