Administrator’s Report – September 9, 2011
Last Administrator’s Message
- Upcoming Hiatus – County officials continue to be grateful for you, our citizens, who take time to be involved in local government and influence the decisions that impact your daily lives. Reading this monthly newsletter is one way you have chosen to be involved. Unfortunately, after this edition we will be taking a hiatus from the Administrator’s Message for the next few months due to staffing shortages. The County’s communication manager recently departed to pursue other opportunities, and it will be a period of time until we are capable of resuming full operations. We appreciate your understanding and look forward to re-connecting in the near future.
Board and Committee Vacancies
- Volunteers Sought for Advisory Boards – The Board of County Commissioners has numerous boards and committees, made up of volunteers that advise the Commission on specific topics. Vacancies are updated periodically and are posted here on the County website, along with information about how to apply. Currently, there are vacancies for the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, Cultural Resource Review Board, West Augustine CRA Nuisance Abatement Board, Industrial Development Authority, A1A South Overlay District Design Review Board, and Contractors Review Board. Contact BCC Manager Melissa Lundquist at (904) 209-0563 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to obtain an application.
- St. Augustine Beach Renourishment Project – The County has approved a proposed settlement agreement that will allow the St. Augustine Beach Renourishment project to proceed. The project is anticipated to commence this winter and take approximately four to five months to complete. It will include placing sand on St. Augustine Beach beginning near the south end of Anastasia Island State Park and extending to south of F Street. The majority of the $16 million project is funded by the federal government. Click here for more information.
Cultural Events Division
- End of Summer – The Cultural Events Division finished out the summer with sold-out shows at both venues and added new events for all ages with the Beaches Back to School Fest at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre and the Classic Music in Movies Series at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. Finishing out the month are performances at the Amphitheatre by bluegrass quartet The Oak Ridge Boys on September 8th, California rock band Incubus on the 22nd, and Lupe Fiasco with Tinie Tempah on the 24th. Tickets are still available for all three events. Visit www.staugamphitheatre.com for more info or call (904) 209-0367.
- Ponte Vedra Concert Hall – The Ponte Vedra Concert Hall finishes up the Classic Music in Movies Series with screenings of “New York, New York” on September 7th and “Tommy” on September 14th. Tickets may be purchased at the door on the day of the show for $5 each and parking is free. Also at the Concert Hall is a sold-out solo performance by JJ Grey along with the premier of his surf movie “Brighter Days” on September 24th. Visit www.pvconcerthall.com for more information or call (904) 209-0367.
- Foreign Trade Zone Designation – St. Johns County was recently approved to be included in the JAXPORT Foreign Trade Zone 64 (FTZ) service area. This program allows participating businesses located at the Northeast Florida Regional Airport in St. Augustine and other areas of St. Johns County the ability to receive tax-deferred or exempt status on internationally imported and exported products, providing them an additional cost-savings benefit by doing business in St. Johns County. An additional benefit of the FTZ program includes on-site U.S. Customs screening, providing quicker access to shipments, thereby reducing production and distribution periods. For more information about how your business might be able to participate in the FTZ program, please contact Melissa Glasgow, St. Johns County Director of Economic Development, at (904) 209-0552.
- Bald Eagle Nesting Season – As the marine turtle nesting season nears its final months, another nesting season for an important and unique animal begins: the American Bald Eagle. In fact, there have already been a few eagle sightings around the County, although bald eagle nesting season officially runs from October 1st through May 15th. During last year’s season, about half of the 33 known nests in the County were verified as active with a total of at least 14 juvenile eaglets observed. There have also been 10 new nests observed and added to the nest list over the last six seasons. Although the bald eagle is no longer listed as endangered, it is still protected at the Federal level by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
- Bald Eagle Protections – At the State level, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission surveys eagle nests to ensure a stable or increasing population is maintained. At the local level, St. Johns County has regulations guiding development activities within specified zones around nests to protect eagles. County staff conduct surveys to verify specific nesting activities, nest productivity, and if any new nests have been built in the County. Upon the end of the season, the number of active nests and juveniles within each nest are recorded.
- How You Can Help – Eagles are sensitive to abrupt or loud noises within the vicinity of their nest which may interfere with nesting activities. If proposing any exterior construction or development activity near any nest, or for more specific information on eagles and their nest locations, please contact the County Environmental Division at (904) 209-0621. A map of known bald eagle nests in the County can be found here on the County website. Additional information may be found on the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission websites.
- Marine Rescue Summer Update – During the 2011 beach season that traditionally runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day, Marine Rescue personnel staffed multiple towers and beach patrols every day from the Ponte Vedra area through Crescent Beach. Thanks to the hard work of both the seasonal Marine Rescue staff and career Fire Rescue personnel, this season was navigated with no reported drownings or fatalities in St. Johns County waterways. Personnel responded to a total of 1,131 emergency events this summer, including 206 medical emergencies, 58 swimmers in distress, 50 missing persons on land, and 29 near drownings.
- Off-Season Staffing – With the beach season coming to a close, Fire Rescue has decreased beach staffing as of September 5th on all St. Johns County beaches. Labor Day traditionally marks the end of the summer beach season, and it concludes the seasonal tower staffing provided annually. Although lifeguard towers will no longer be staffed, mobile truck patrols and career Fire Rescue personnel will maintain beach coverage through mid September 2011. Beach patrons are reminded to monitor beach warnings and weather reports, as well as obey all posted beach condition warnings. In the event you have an emergency on St. Johns County Beaches, please utilize the 911 system. These emergencies will continue to receive a simultaneous Marine Rescue/Fire Rescue response throughout the year.
- Free Energy Efficiency Workshops - The St. Johns County Energy Efficiency Series is now entering its 7th month. With expert speakers from around the state offering free workshops each week, the series is proving to be highly successful. One of the most recent speakers, Kevin Songer of MetroVerde, a design firm specializing in green roofs and urban agriculture, was just featured in the September 2011 issue of Florida Trend Magazine. The workshops are designed for both contractors and homeowners. Attendees are not only gaining the insight of leading technical experts in a variety of fields, but they also are taking advantage of networking opportunities, forming lasting relationships and business partnerships, and even gaining employment. The St. Johns County Energy Efficiency Series is a free event held weekly at the wind mitigation building at the University of Florida IFAS Extension. The sessions are every Thursday from 4:00 to 5:00 pm. Contact SJC Energy Efficiency Coordinator Lowry Shuler at (904) 827-6806 or email@example.com for more information or view the schedule.
Office of Management & Budget
- Fiscal Year 2012 Budget – The first public hearing on the Fiscal Year 2012 budget was held on September 6th at 5:30 pm in a packed County auditorium. The Board of County Commissioners adopted Administration’s recommendation to reduce the Tentative Millage Rate by 0.16, thus reducing property owners’ tax bills from what was shown in the recently distributed TRIM notices. The total FY 2012 budget was presented at $564 million, including carry-forwards from unspent money in the FY 2011 budget. This is a reduction of $18 million from the $582 million budget in FY 2011 and a $169 million reduction since 2007. The second public hearing and final adoption will be on September 20th at 5:30 pm in the County Auditorium. Find quick facts, charts, FAQ’s, town hall presentations, summary of citizen feedback, documents, and budget meeting info at www.sjcfl.us/budget.
- New Location for Ponte Vedra Office – The Ponte Vedra business office of the St. Johns County Utility Department (SJCUD), currently located at 111-A Solano Road, will relocate effective October 1, 2011. The new location will be the Ponte Vedra Annex Building, at 5430 Palm Valley Road, within the office of Dennis W. Hollingsworth, St. Johns County Tax Collector. One employee will be at window six during normal business hours, except from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm. Customers will not need to take a number for assistance. For added convenience, there will be a drop box specifically for SJCUD payments located in front of the annex. Utility bills may also be paid through credit card, automatic deduction, by phone or mail. The office phone and fax numbers, as well as the P.O. Box address will remain the same. For more information visit our website.
- New Website Coming Soon – Stay tuned as St. Johns County will be unveiling a new website during the next few weeks. You will still be able to access all the same information on the current website, but in an enhanced manner. Some notable changes include improved navigation and menus, easier to find content, and improved usability overall.
Michael D. Wanchick
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