Administrator’s Report – June 4, 2010
Town Hall Meetings
- A Meeting Near You – Our 2010 Town Hall meetings officially began on Thursday in St. Augustine Beach, and they will continue throughout June in all parts of the County. The feedback we received from citizens during the Town Hall meetings last year was very influential in the adoption of our final budget. Some specific areas impacted included library hours, use of volunteers, and the final millage rate. As we progress through another challenging budget process and look ahead to future challenges, I again ask for your involvement and feedback.
- No Millage Increase – The Commission and I do not anticipate a millage increase this year, which is good news for everyone. In fact, when coupled with declining property values, a flat millage rate will mean an overall tax decrease for the County.
- Meeting Schedule – Please join us for one of the upcoming Town Hall meetings. A complete schedule and more information, including a copy of the presentation, are available on the website at www.sjcfl.us/townhall. You can also submit comments by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (904) 209-1202. Thanks for your involvement in this process!
- St. Johns County Monitoring Deepwater Horizon (Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill) – St. Johns County has no immediate threat to its coastline due to the Deepwater Horizon incident in the gulf. Although we do not anticipate any negative effects from the oil spill, staff are closely monitoring the situation through daily conference calls with the Florida Department of Emergency Management. Additionally, St. Johns County has created an updated plan of action should the oil impact our shore at some point in the future. For the most up to date information regarding the gulf oil spill, please contact the Florida Emergency Information Line at 1-800-342-3557 or visit www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com. Those wishing to volunteer in the affected areas of the gulf coast should contact Volunteer Florida at 1-866-448-5816.
- Commissioner Quinn Receives Liberty Award – District 3 Commissioner Ray Quinn was recently honored for his leadership with the First Militia Chapter 2010 Third Region Liberty Award. The award came from the Association of the United States Army, which is an organization of nearly 90,000 members worldwide that supports the Army. Sergeant Major (retired) Quinn has served as the Vice President of the First Militia Chapter since 1994, and he also serves on the Board of Directors for Retiree Affairs for the Association. Commissioner Quinn was nominated for the award by two fellow members of the Third Region. The award was given in recognition of his service in the chapter and in the community. Congratulations to Commissioner Quinn.
- Family Nutrition Program – The Family Nutrition Program (FNP) at the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service, in collaboration with the Florida Department of Children and Families Economic Self-Sufficiency program and state and local agencies, provides educational programs in food and nutrition to food stamp recipients and food stamp eligible individuals and families. The goal of the program is to increase nutrition security of St. Johns County families and to provide practical programs about general nutrition, food selection, food safety, and sanitation. Annually, over $350,000 is matched through the federal grant in St. Johns County. Learn more about the Family Nutrition Program on the IFAS website.
- Update on St. Johns County Transit Facility – Construction Services continues work on the bus transit facility, which will be leased to the St. Johns County Council on Aging (COA) for use by the Sunshine Bus Company. The current COA bus fleet is dispersed throughout the County, and the new facility will centrally locate the fleet. While the project has endured some challenges, it now appears the general contractor will complete the project very close to the scheduled opening in August. This project has been funded through a combination of federal appropriations, grants, and stimulus funds.
- Local Mitigation Strategy Approved by FEMA – FEMA has given five-year approval for the County's Local Mitigation Strategy (LMS), which is a plan the community has developed to promote hazard mitigation and manage post-disaster recovery. Mitigation works to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to human life and property from disasters through federal infrastructure assistance programs, human services assistance programs, and the Hazard Mitigation grant program. These programs help to rebuild lives and communities that have been impacted by a major disaster, as well as reduce the impact of future disasters through mitigation. The LMS has been a large project of Emergency Management staff, as well as members of the Local Mitigation Strategy Task Force, comprised of staff from the County and local jurisdictions. Thanks to everyone involved for their hard work and dedication to this project.
Health and Human Services
- Free Summer Kickoff Event at Health and Human Services – The Health and Human Services Department will host its Summer Kickoff Event on Friday, June 11th from 5 to 7 pm at the HHS building located at 1955 US 1 South in St. Augustine. The event will take place on the front lawn and will feature free food, music and activities including face painting, animal balloons, badminton, and Frisbee games. There will also be a station for families to participate in online educational computer games. All ages are welcome to attend. For more information on the event, please call Sandra Jackson with Health and Human Services at 209-6048.
Land Management Systems
- Hurricane Tracking Chart – The 2010 Hurricane Tracking Chart is now available to view or download from the GIS Map Mart section of the site.
- Survey Manager Appointed to Board – County Surveyor Gail Oliver has been appointed to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences School of Forest Resources and Conservation Advisory Board. The appointment is for a three-year term where Gail will serve to enhance the relevance and quality of their teaching, research, and extension programs.
- Library Programs – Throughout the summer, library staff will partner with volunteers and Friends of the Library groups to present an outstanding slate of programs and performers. Families look forward to these extra special events each summer, and it goes a long way to support the learning readiness of young people, ultimately creating lifelong learners and library users. Visit www.sjcpls.org for program details.
- Dolly Parton Imagination Library – One program that is ongoing throughout the year is the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. This is a community partnership that can provide up to 60 free hardcover books to your child, as long as they have been born after May 1, 2008. All parents need to do is enroll their child and they will begin to receive books in the mail in about 6 weeks. After that, all you need to do is read to your young child. Go to dollypartonsimaginationlibrary.com/ to learn just how easy it can be to make books and reading a simple pleasure in your child’s life.
- Library Elf – Speaking of easy, consider enlisting the help of your own “library elf” to help you remember your due dates and avoid overdue fines. Library Elf is a free online service that will remind you of your due dates as well as let you know when your reserved books have come into to your local library. Easy to sign up, easy to use, easy to save yourself a lot of worry and hassle. Sign up for your very own Library Elf!
- Adult Reading Program – Finally, each library location will have a Reading Program For Adults from the second week of June through the second week of August. For each book review you turn into to your local library during that time, you will receive one free entry to win a prize. Prizes will be drawn at the end of the summer. So, tell us what you think of a book as many times as you want, and get that many free entries. And, if you are really looking ahead, we are already taking suggestions for St. Johns Reads 2011. Let us know your suggestions for this community-wide reading program by visiting the Library website.
Office of Management and Budget
- Updated Capital Improvement Plan – During May the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completed two initial major 2011 County budget steps. The updated County’s 5-year requested Capital Improvement Plan (2011-2015) was presented to the Board of County Commissioners. A Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) is a plan for funding high-cost County projects such as road improvements, building construction, major equipment purchase, or other major improvement projects. The CIP is considered a best financial management practice, and has been updated to reflect the most recent County needs identified by departments with projected available funding. Further review and updating of the CIP will take place throughout the 2011 County budget process that will conclude with public hearings in September 2010.
- 2011 Budget Process – The County Administrator’s 2011 Requested Budget Hearings for all County departments, open to the public, were also recently completed. Florida Statutes require that a recommended County budget for 2011 be presented as a balanced budget to the Board on July 20, 2010. A balanced budget means that total County expenditures and adequate reserves must be equal to total estimated revenues for each County fund. Initial County taxable property values for 2011 have been estimated by the County Property Appraiser to have decreased about 10 percent from the current year. However, the County is not anticipating recommending any millage increase due to the current economy. Currently the County is projecting a total County budget of $587 million that compares to the 2010 adopted County budget of $612 million. The County Administrator is currently conducting Town Hall meetings to gather public input toward the recommended County budget for 2011 and beyond. As indicated above, the 2011 County budget process will continue after the recommended budget is presented and will not be finalized until after public hearings in September 2010 as required by Florida Statutes.
- Additional Portion of C.R. 244/Longleaf Pine Parkway Now Open – St. Johns County is pleased to announce another portion of County Road 244 (Longleaf Pine Parkway) in northwest St. Johns County is now open. This two-mile section of road extends the existing roadway south of Bartram Trail High School to the realigned intersection of County Roads 210, 16-A, and 244. This extension will significantly enhance roadway capacity and connectivity in the northwest sector of St. Johns County. The four-lane divided roadway includes bike lanes, a multi-purpose path, and a sidewalk. The Rivertown Development constructed the roadway as a development obligation, with some portions of the construction funded by St. Johns County.
- Stimulus Grant for Energy Conservation – The Traffic Section of the Engineering Division, in conjunction with the Environmental Division and Building Department, was awarded a grant administered by Florida Energy and Climate Commission to promote energy conservation by synchronizing traffic lights on five major roads and by making the County buildings more energy efficient. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the federal stimulus plan, is providing the funding for the projects in the amount of $437,902. St. Johns County is the one of 14 applicants in the state to receive the funding.
Grant activities will be executed through two groups of County staff: the Engineering Division Traffic Operations Section and the Building Department. The Traffic Operations Section will oversee the first portion of the grant to re-synchronize traffic signals to improve traffic flow along five major road segments, including two segments on U.S. 1 South and one each on State Roads 13, 207, and A1A South. In all 23 traffic signals will be retimed and synchronized, reducing vehicular delay, fuel consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. The estimated annual impact is anticipated to be 728,894 gallons of gasoline saved and a reduction of 6,768 metric tons of carbon.
The second portion of the grant funds will be used by the County Building Department to develop a proactive energy program, which will include technical assistance and training workshops on energy efficient building techniques. A total of 90 workshops are planned during a two-year period that will reach out to a diverse industry base, anticipating more than 1,600 attendees. The technical assistance component will facilitate availability of county staff to address specific questions from building applicants to provide the most appropriate information on energy savings. Based on the State Energy Program Calculator, St. Johns County anticipates the average annual savings of these combined programs to be more than $3 million in reduced fuel usage and energy savings.
Recreation and Parks
- Lights Out – As a cost savings measure, the court lights at Ron Parker Park and the Orange Street tennis courts will be turned off June 23rd - August 23rd. Thank you in advance for your understanding and support of this effort. However, several courts throughout St. Johns County remain available for play under the lights. Find them by visiting www.sjcfl.us/recreation or calling the Recreation Office at 209-0333.
- Tennis for Kids Ages 8 to 80 – A six-week tennis clinic for kids ages 8 to 80 will soon be underway at the Lighthouse Tennis Courts, 422 Ocean Vista Ave. Pre-registration is required and early registration is encouraged as space is limited. Bring your own tennis racquet, a fresh can of tennis balls, and plenty of energy! Need more information? Call Betsy Clarkson at 209-0333.
- Just Tri It! Triathlon – The Children’s Museum of St. Johns, the St. Augustine YMCA, and the St. Johns County Recreation and Parks Department are pooling their experience and resources to sponsor Just Tri It!, a kids triathlon for children ages 5-12 (kindergarten through 7th grade). But even the younger ones may participate by entering a 200-yard Fun Run for ages 4-5 and a 100-yard Tot Trot for ages 3 and under following the completion of the triathlon. The event will be held Saturday, June 12th at the Solomon Calhoun Center, 1300 Duval Street. Pre-registration is strongly recommended as space is limited. Race details can be found online at www.explorecmsj.org.
- Friday Night Lights – The Solomon Calhoun Center is the site for Friday Night Lights, 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm on Friday, June 11 and June 25. This is a place for teens to enjoy refreshments, games, and fun in a safe environment. Students must show a student I.D. to gain admittance. For further information, call the Solomon Calhoun Center at 209-0395.
- Utility Employee Elected to FIPA – St. Johns County Utility Department is proud to announce that Pretreatment Specialist Linda Fielder has been elected by the Florida Industrial Pretreatment Association (FIPA) to serve as the North Florida Coordinator for the organization. As North Florida Coordinator, it is her responsibility to attend board meetings throughout the state and to coordinate events in the northern region. Congratulations Linda.
- Thank you for reading this newsletter, and I hope you find it informative. If you have any suggestions for improving this effort, we encourage you to let us know. Once again, please join us for a town hall meeting in your area this month. Details at www.sjcfl.us/townhall.