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Spring 2016

A Message from the Clerk
 
How Far We’ve Come
 

     I can’t help but reflect back on how far we’ve come.  It was the year 2005 when I first entered the office of Nassau County’s Clerk of Circuit Court and Comptroller.  At that time, the county’s credit rating was being downgraded for the second year in a row and its bonds placed once again under rating watch negative.  Fitch’s 2005 credit rating report mentions “ongoing concerns about the county’s cash position and uncertainty about its overall financial position.”  With the help from County Commissioners over the next few years, actions were taken to improve our county’s financial position; instituting policies and procedures to develop better fiscal practices, creating a Capital Improvement Plan to address capital needs, maintaining a disciplined approach for reducing long-term debt (refinancing and restructuring whenever possible to save money), and strengthening our financial controls to ensure taxpayer dollars were being accounted for properly and accurately.  It took six years, but the county’s credit rating was finally upgraded in 2011, getting back to our rating of “A+” outlook stable. 

     In October 2015, we were very pleased that Fitch Ratings once again affirmed the county’s high credit ratings of “A+” for non ad valorem revenue bonds and “AA-” for the implied general obligations rating.  This was great news!  An independent credit rating agency assessed Nassau County confirming that our fiscal situation remains positive with a stable outlook.  It is very gratifying to see our hard work continues to pay off; being able to maintain this excellent credit rating for the last four years (affirmed in 2013 and now again in 2015).  On this most recent report, Fitch cites their decision being based on several key factors: (1) the county now having a formal policy for maintaining a minimum level of safety reserves (a financial cushion of two months operating expenditures (17%) in all three ad valorem taxing funds); (2) an improving economy (noting low unemployment and the recovery and growth of our tourism and tax base); (3) increased property tax revenues (growing another 5.5% in fiscal 2016 due to increases in taxable assessed values (reversing the prior declining trends); and (4) the county’s very low debt levels.

     While Fitch comments on the county’s positive situation, they do present a concern that should be addressed before our next review.  Based on county staff interviews, Fitch questions the possibility of unfunded future capital needs outside of the current fully funded Five Year Capital Improvement Plan.  On May 20th, 2015, (prior to this Fitch rating review), I made a presentation to the Board addressing this same concern.  I recommended that the County Commission create a formalized accrual plan to take care of any possible future unfunded capital needs.  By setting honest and realistic capital spending priorities and creating a plan to start accruing for these future needs, we can start setting aside portions at a time instead of having to fund all at once and creating unnecessary debt.  If a true capital project need exists when no other funding is available, the Board should first identify the need, and then open an honest conversation with the public; standing behind the importance of each project(s).  That level of transparency allows the taxpayers to see what would truly be driving any possible need to raise taxes; giving taxpayers the ability to develop their own opinions.  The public will either support or reject these ideas, giving the Board a clearer picture on how best to raise and spend taxpayer money. 

     With the proper planning and managing of the resources we have, the county can remain fiscally healthy and maintain this excellent credit rating.  With Nassau County continuing to witness steady growth and an improving economy, it is very exciting to see what our future holds.  I will continue working relentlessly at protecting our credit rating, just as I did when taking office in 2005.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
9/2/2004              > downgrade to (A) Rating Watch Negative from (A+)
8/9/2005              > downgrade to (A-) Rating Watch Negative from (A)
8/31/2006            > maintains (A-) Rating Watch Negative
5/21/2007            > maintains (A-) removed Rating Watch Negative – Outlook to Stable
12/9/2009            > maintains (A-) Outlook Stable
11/17/2011         > upgraded to (A+) Outlook Stable -> also assigns (AA-) ULTGO rating
10/18/2013         > maintains (A+) Outlook Stable -> also maintains (AA-) ULTGO rating
10/14/2015         > maintains (A+) Outlook Stable -> also maintains (AA-) ULTGO rating


Nassau County Clerk Takes Foreclosure Sales Online
 
 

Yulee, FL March 15, 2016

Nassau County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller, John A. Crawford, announces the launch of their new online foreclosure sale website www.nassauclerk.realforeclose.com. Nassau’s online foreclosure sale is designed to ensure fairness and increase the number of potential buyers for each property, thereby benefitting bidders and property owners alike. 

Live foreclosure sales that are currently held at the Robert M. Foster Justice Center in Yulee will immediately switch to the online system on April 1, 2016.   Free training sessions will be held at the Robert M. Foster Justice Center in Yulee on March 28, 2016. Plaintiff training will be held at 1:00 p.m. and bidder training will be held at 3:00 p.m.  Interested parties may register for training with RealAuction.com in advance by calling (877) 361-7325.  Webinar classes covering the use of the new auction site software are also available by calling RealAuction.com.

Providing the software, hosting the website, and providing customer service is Fort Lauderdale based RealAuction.com.  The intuitive website allows a person to make deposits, place bids, monitor auction activity, and pay for their winning bids, all from the convenience of their home, office, or mobile laptop.  Also, due to the auction-style format, the Nassau County foreclosure site allows a person to be in more than one place at the time by offering a “proxy bidding” process.  Bidders must register in advance for this service.

John A. Crawford, Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller, said the software will provide ease-of-use, allowing individuals to register, review property data, and enter bids at any time until the auction ends.  Once the auction closes, payment is accepted by electronic wire transfer or certified funds directly to the Clerk of the Court.

“The site is very simple to use even to those that have limited computer experience,” said Crawford. “Prospective bidders are provided with tools such as links to the Tax Collector, Property Appraiser, and Official Records which will assist them in their preliminary research. In addition to all of the other benefits of the electronic venue, bids can be placed from the comfort of their homes or offices.”

Interested parties are required to register on the website before placing deposits and bids.  Registration on the website opens April 1, 2016.   Any person desiring to bid on real property, who does not own or have access to technology, may use computer terminals designated for such purpose at the Robert M. Foster Justice Center, 76347 Veterans Way, Yulee, Florida 32097. Please review the information regarding auction procedures and be sure to read through the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the new website before getting started.
For additional information, please visit the Clerk of Court’s website at www.nassauclerk.com  or call (904) 548-4606.
Nassau County Beach Driving - FAQ


NASSAU COUNTY BEACH DRIVING PERMITS are issued pursuant to Nassau County Ordinances 2002-41 and 2002-31 and Resolution 2002-106.
 
Q:     Do I need to obtain a beach driving permit? If so, what is the process?
 
A:     Out-of-County residents shall obtain a permit to drive or park on the beach. No permit is required if you are a Nassau County resident.  Additionally, a disabled person may display their disabled person’s parking permit placard issued by the Tax Collector’s office in lieu of a beach driving permit; or if you are a senior citizen age sixty five (65) or older you may obtain a beach driving permit at no charge from the Office of the Clerk upon showing proof of age.
 
    Out-of-County applicants will need to bring their driver’s license and know the type of vehicle and tag number in order to obtain a beach driving permit. The cost is $5.00 for a daily permit or $25.00 for an annual permit, which is valid for 12 months from the date of purchase.
 
    Individuals may contact the County’s Parks and Recreation Department at 904-548-4689 in order to ascertain the permitted beach driving access locations or request a copy of the County ordinances referenced above through the Clerk’s offices. Please note that beach driving permits are not transferable; each vehicle will require a separate permit.
 
Beach driving permits are available at the following locations:
 
Judicial Annex
904-548-4660
76347 Veterans Way,
Clerk Services/BOCC, 2nd floor
Yulee, Florida 32097
Hours of Operation:
Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Cash or check only please
 
Historic Courthouse
904-491-6430
416 Centre Street
Fernandina Beach, Florida 32034
Hours of Operation:
Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Cash or check payments accepted
 
AIA Express Discount
904-310-6163
3331 South Fletcher Avenue
Fernandina Beach, Florida 32034
Hours of Operation:
Monday thru Thursday 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Friday thru Sunday 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Only cash payments accepted
 
Flash Foods
904-261-3113
5518 South Fletcher Avenue
Fernandina Beach, Florida 32034
Hours of Operation:
Open 24 hours
Cash, Credit/ Debit Cards accepted
  • Please make checks payable to Nassau County Clerk of Courts.
 
If you have any questions or comments about this column, please contact:
Connie Arthur at 76347 Veterans Way, Yulee, FL 32097 or (904) 548-4663.


John A. Crawford
Clerk of the Circuit Court
 
John A. Crawford
Clerk of the Circuit Court
  

Online Auctions FAQs

 
How does the online auction work?

Auctions are held on properties offered for sale to the highest bidder. The Clerk's Office conducts the sale via public auction on the Internet in accordance with Florida Statutes.
Anyone may bid on the properties, and must register with the clerk on this web site prior to the sale. The site provides information for each sale item, including the name of the owner, legal description and the opening or base bid.

At the date and time specified for the sale, each item is auctioned in order of file number and sold to the highest bidder.

Prior to the time of the sale, the successful high bidder must post with the Clerk a nonrefundable deposit of 5% of the anticipated high bid. The remainder of the bid plus court registry fees plus the Judicial Sale Winner Bid Service Fee are due by 3:30 pm ET the day of the sale.Payment may be made in the form of wire transfer, cash, cashier’s check, or money order. Upon payment of the remainder of the bid via counter or wire transfer initiated, the Clerk will issue a Certificate of Sale.

Advance deposits may be made on the web site via electronic check (ACH). ACH deposits require 4 full business days to be processed. The deposits will not be available for bidding until such funds have cleared. Deposits may also be made in person by cash or cashier’s check at the Nassau County Clerk of Courts Civil Division at 76347 Veteran’s Way, Yulee, FL 32097.

A Certificate of Title may be issued by the Clerk of the Circuit Court after ten (10) full days have elapsed from the issuance of the Certificate of Sale and provided there is no other action relating to the subject proceeding.

What equipment and software will I need?

There is no special software or hardware needed for the sale. In order to participate, bidders must have a computer with access to the Internet. The Clerk's office will provide a limited number of public computers for those without Internet access. Please contact a foreclosure clerk at (904) 548-4606 for availability.

Do I have to be present on the day of the sale?

Effective February 22, 2016, foreclosure sales for all new filings will be conducted entirely online via this web site. It will no longer be necessary to appear in person to participate in the sale.

What do I need in order to participate?

In order to participate in the sale, bidders must register on this site to get a Username and Password and place a valid deposit for your bids to be considered.

How much is the deposit?

You will need to place a deposit equal to 5% of your estimated high bid for each item you anticipate winning at the sale.

How do I pay for my deposit? How do I Pay for my winning bids?

Deposits can be made electronically on this web site via ACH (Electronic Check). Wire transfers will be accepted but you MUST add $13.50 fee per transaction or it will be deducted from your deposit amount. Wire transfers may take up to 48 hours to be received and processed. Cash, cashier’s checks and money orders will also be accepted, however, these forms of payments must be delivered to the Clerk’s office. Personal Checks are NOT permitted.
Deposits are due by 10:30AM the day of the sale.
Payments can be made by wire transfer but you MUST add $13.50 fee or it will automatically be deducted from your payment amount. Cash, cashier’s checks and money orders will also be accepted, however, these forms of payments must be delivered to the Clerk’s office. Personal Checks are NOT permitted
Payments are due by 3:30PM the day of the sale.

Can other participants see my bids?

No.

How does the bidding work? What is a proxy bid?

Auction participants enter their highest acceptable bid for a property. The auction system then checks all other bids and enters a bid on your behalf at $100.00 more than the next highest bidder (proxy bidding). The system stops entering bids for you when your highest acceptable bid is reached. When an auction closes, each property is awarded to the participant with the highest bid.

What happens in case of a tie bid?

If identical bids are placed prior to the auction start date and time the first participant to place the bid will be deemed the official high bid. Tie bids are not allowed once the auction begins.  

Can I change or cancel my bid?

Bids may be cancelled or modified (raised or lowered) at any time before the auction officially begins for that case. Once an auction begins, however, bids may be increased only. Cancelling or lowering a bid during a live auction is NOT permitted.

If I am the high bidder, how long do I have to pay for the property?

If you are the successful bidder for property at a foreclosure sale, the balance of the final bid amount plus the court registry fees must be received by the Clerk's office no later 3:30 PM ET the day of the sale or by the deadline stated in the judgment. Accepted forms of payment are wire transfer, cash, cashier's checks and money orders.

What if I fail to make the final payment or choose not to purchase the property?

If full payment is not made by 3:30 PM ET the day of the sale, your deposit will be forfeited.

What happens to leftover deposit money?

Unused deposit money will be returned upon request of refund by clicking “Request Refund”.

How do I request a refund?

Funds on deposit are only returned when requested. To request a refund, click “Request Refund”. Please allow approximately two weeks after the close of the auction for the processing of refunds.

What is the overtime period?

Why does the auction keep extending?Any bid placed with less than 30 seconds remaining on the auction clock will automatically extend the bidding period by an additional sixty (60) seconds. Bids placed below the stated Plaintiff's Maximum Bid will NOT extend the auction bidding period.

Does the foreclosure sale erase all other liens on the property?

No! There may still be other encumbrances (judgments, priority mortgages, taxes or liens) that survive the sale. The winning bidder takes title to the property subject to all defects, liens, encumbrances and matters of which he/she has or could obtain knowledge. It is the bidders responsibility to perform all research regarding the property, including the value, title defects, liens, mortgages or other encumbrances. The Clerk's Office does not guarantee a clear title and is not responsible for any encumbrances on the property purchased at auction.
The laws regarding foreclosures are extremely complicated. It is recommended that all bidders perform a title search and consult an attorney prior to placing a bid.
 

RealForeclose Welcome Letter

Dear Bidder,

On behalf of the Nassau County Clerk’s office, welcome to the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller’s new, online foreclosure sale website, RealForeclose.

I am pleased to offer you an electronic, online auction solution that is easy to navigate, while streamlining the entire auction process. I appreciate your interest and participation in this new product.

Available to users with Internet access who register through the site, RealForeclose removes geographical barriers and offers local properties to a wider audience. With the expectation of helping sellers by attracting more bids and a higher number of properties sold, RealForeclose also helps buyers research the property through links to case file documents, property appraisal and tax collection history, mapping, and more. And due to its auction-style format, RealForeclose allows a person to be in more than one place at a time by offering a “proxy bidding” feature.

The site is specifically designed to ensure fairness to all parties involved in the auction process. At the same time, we are providing you more information and access to the bidding process in a convenient, easy to use format. We believe these features will be of benefit to bidders and property owners alike.

Realforeclose offers you the opportunity to review relevant property information from the comfort of your home, office or laptop as you travel. Updated property information will be added to the web site as it becomes available, and you may place your bids at times that are convenient for you.

Interested parties are required to register before using the site to place deposits and bids. You may want to also review the information regarding auction procedures, and be sure to read through the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) before getting started.

Again, thank you for joining us as we become one of the first counties in the country to implement an online process for foreclosure property sales. I look forward to providing the many benefits of RealForeclose to our citizens and business partners. If you have any questions about this new service, please contact my office at (904) 548-4606 or Realauction Customer Service Center at (877) 361-7325.

Sincerely,

John A. Crawford
Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller
Nassau County, FL



 
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Our mailing address is:
Nassau County Clerk of Courts
76347 Veteran's Way, Suite 456
Yulee, FL  32097


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