Ormond Beach Mayor Bill Partington challenged by Rob Bridger
ORMOND BEACH — For the third straight time since 2018, Ormond Beach Mayor Bill Partington will take on Rob Bridger in the race for mayor of the city.
The current mayor has beaten Bridger in 2018 and 2020. This year’s race will be decided on November 8.
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Partington, 54, has been the mayor of Ormond Beach since 2016. He was born and raised in the city and attended Tomoka Elementary School, Ormond Beach Junior High and graduated from Mainland High School.
He is currently an assistant public defender and division chief for the Felony Trial Division of Florida’s Seventh Judicial Circuit.
One of Partington’s priorities, he said in a telephone interview, will be to maintain the city’s “high quality services” and “low tax and utility rates.”
“We are used to providing high quality service to our residents,” he said. “Whether it’s water and sewer, police and fire, recreation services.”
All of this, he added, is done “at one of the lowest tax rates in Volusia County.” He mentioned that the only city in the county with a lower property tax rate than Ormond Beach, which stands at 3.9128, is DeBary, with a property tax rate of 2.9247.
“We run a very fiscally efficient government, and we’re very proud of that,” he said. “I just hope to continue like this. We had a lot of success.
Another priority for Partington will be to “protect” the city’s “water quality and environment”.
“We, especially over the past two years, have been very focused on our stormwater and wastewater (systems),” he said.
He said the goal was ‘to get to the point where we have zero discharge of reused water into the Halifax River’.
“We’d like to use all that (reused) water for irrigation and have enough storage so we don’t have to dump it into the Halifax River.
He added that the city’s public works department is working on purchasing a “large parcel of land” on the west side of Interstate 95 “that we can dig up and create a huge storage and retention pond. of water that will be reused”.
“When it’s dry and people need that water to water their lawns, they can tap into that pond,” Partington said.
Among its priorities will also be “maintaining Ormond Beach’s slow and controlled rate of growth.”
One of the indicators pointed out by Partington is the number of building permits issued in the city by district. That number, according to the Volusia County Economic Development Quarterly Report, remained between 30 and 47 between the second quarters of 2021 and 2022, while other towns in the county recorded triple-digit numbers.
“We have a very measured steady (growth) rate of around 1.3% per year,” Partington said. “Other towns around us just exploded and are doing 200, 300, 400, sometimes 500 homes a quarter, and we’re down 20, 25, 30. The facts show that Ormond Beach is really growing at a very slow pace.”
He also pointed to the city’s population growth. According to the 2020 census, Ormond Beach has a population of approximately 43,000, an increase of 5,000 from 2010.
“That’s what’s supporting our very slow rate of growth,” he said. “We are proud of it. This is what our residents want.
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Rob Bridger, 74, has resided in Ormond Beach since 1989. He is a United States Navy veteran and spent 35 years working with the State of Florida in the management and administration of health and human services programs.
Bridger holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in counseling from Stetson University. He also holds a master’s degree in public administration from Florida State University.
In a phone interview, Bridger said among his priorities will be “requiring low-impact development for all new commercial and residential developments.”
Bridger praised the city’s planning staff’s 2013 guide to low-impact development principles and said it should serve as the basis for a new ordinance.
“But that’s just a guide,” Bridger said. “I think it should be required in an ordinance, and I would work with the city commission to establish that, in an ordinance, for new commercial and residential developments.”
He mentioned that low impact development is not a new concept. The city’s residential developments, such as The Trails and Tomoka Oaks, Bridger said, were developed decades ago “working with the environment.”
Bridger said he thought the city was “overdeveloped”.
“Our development hasn’t happened responsibly,” Bridger said.
Another of Bridger’s priorities will be to “reinstate strict rules on wetlands”.
“Before 2009, Ormond Beach had very strict wetland rules,” he said. “In 2009, developers were required to preserve 4 acres of wetland for every acre of wetland that was to be developed. This changed after 2009 to a 1:1 ratio.”
Bridger added that the acre required for preservation no longer needed to be in the city of Ormond Beach after 2009.
“Or, instead of preserving that other acre, developers could contribute to a mitigation fund,” he said. “So I think we need to look at reinstating our wetland rules, and we need to have independent analysis and mapping of our wetlands, so that we can make sure our permits are issued correctly.”
Among Bridger’s priorities will also be “(increasing) citizen input by re-establishing the environmental advisory council and establishing a tree council.”
“I think we need an independent environmental advisory board that reviews proposed developments with respect to impacts on our environment,” Bridger said.
He said he would work to reinstate the city’s environmental advisory council, which was abolished in 2010 and its functions transferred to the planning council.
“We also need to bring the city into full compliance with the Arbor Day Foundation criteria, where we receive a ‘tree city’ by establishing a tree district,” he said.
The Arbor Day Foundation is a “nebraska-based nonprofit, conservation and education organization with nearly one million members, whose mission is to inspire people to plant, celebrate and nurture trees. “.
“A group of citizens appeared before the mayor and the city commission some time ago to present a very reasonable proposal, which was developed with their PhD-level arborist, to suggest that we have a tree,” he said. he declares. “But it fell on deaf ears. This is definitely something I would consider establishing.