Board of County Commissioners News
- 2012 Economic Development – 2012 was a landmark year for economic development in St. Johns County. The second largest home builder in the country, D.R. Horton, announced plans to build a new 25,100-square-foot St. Johns County regional headquarters that will employ 270 when complete. 2G Cenergy celebrated the grand opening of its first U.S. manufacturing facility and headquarters, which will have an annual impact of $100 million and be the corporate home to approximately 125 employees. Memorial Hospital opened a 12-bed, 11,000-square-foot, free standing emergency room and full-service urgent care center offering dedicated pediatrics services.
And to wrap up the year, Advanced Disposal announced the decision to relocate their corporate headquarters to St. Johns County. The company is leasing approximately 56,000 square feet in a move that is expected to bring 120 new jobs and a capital investment of approximately $4 million. The St. Johns County Small Business Development Center continues to produce impressive results and has assisted 618 individuals, helped open 60 new businesses, and created 250 jobs since opening in 2009.
In addition, Publix opened a successful new Vilano Beach location that has outperformed all projections, and plans are underway to revitalize the shopping center located on the northwest corner of the US 1 and SH 312 intersection. The center will offer new shopping and dining opportunities and visual improvements to one of the busiest retail corridors in St. Augustine.
Our Board of County Commissioners were recognized in numerous publications this year for expediting economic development projects, creating a business-friendly environment, and supporting the local business community.
- Residential Building Permits – Complimenting the corporate business growth, we also experienced a boom in residential development that defied state and national trends. According to the Northeast Florida Builders Association, the number of building permits issued by St. Johns County in 2012 rivaled the total number issued in Duval, Clay, and Nassau counties combined. A number of regional publications cited a high quality of life and an excellent school system as two of the primary reasons for the continued interest in new residential developments.
- St. Johns County's Managed Investment Performance – The County's Financial Advisor, Public Financial Management, recently presented an update on the County's investment accounts to the Board of County Commissioners. The advisor indicated that the County's investment portfolios reported higher quarterly and annual returns than the benchmark performance indices and are considered high credit quality. In addition, the Board of County Commissioners recently voted to refinance $44.6 million in bonds from 2004. In achieving an interest rate decrease of almost 1.5% for a new rate of 3.55%, we realized a $3.2 million savings, which was double the original savings projection.
- Legislative Action Plan and Delegation Meeting – The St. Johns County Legislative Delegation held a meeting on December 17 at the St. Johns County Administrative Building to solicit public testimony on legislative issues, appropriations, and local bills. The Board of County Commissioners previously adopted the 2013 St. Johns County Legislative Action Plan and presented it to the Legislative Delegation during the meeting. St. Johns County priorities for the upcoming legislative session include Florida statute amendments, transportation projects and funding, water quality, and unfunded mandates. Review the Legislative Action Plan.
- Council on Aging Contracts and Funding – The Board adopted resolutions approving contracts between St. Johns County and the Council on Aging, Inc. (COA) to provide funds for Sunshine Bus service, paratransit services, enhanced veteran services, and a Veterans Initiative Grant. In addition, the Board voted to renew COA's operation of The Players Community Center, and the Trout Creek Pavilion and Community Center. Renewal of the contracts reaffirms St. Johns County's partnership with the COA in providing services and programming to our residents.
- Retirements and Recognitions – The end of the year often brings retirement and service recognitions in St. Johns County. The Board of County Commissioners recently recognized several individuals for their service to St. Johns County including retiring employees Charles "Chuck" Stevens with the Solid Waste Department and Deresa Lane with the Fire Rescue EMS Billing Department for more 32 years of individual service to the County. In addition, the Board recognized Public Works employees Timmy Russell and Greg Kennedy for 35 years of individual service to the County.
St. Johns County Programs and Services
- 2013 Library Policies – Beginning January 1, the St. Johns County Library System will implement two changes to cardholder policy that will allow patrons to assist Libraries in providing cardholders more timely access to a greater number of borrowable materials. Maximum library fine limits will be lowered from $25 to $10 per library card. Patrons who wish to continue using their library cards to borrow materials or access public computers will need to maintain a fee balance of less than $10. Patrons will also be asked to renew their library cards on an annual basis. At the time of renewal, cardholders must satisfy any outstanding library fines in order to continue borrowing and computer access privileges. In addition, all St. Johns County Public Libraries will accept non-perishable food items to pay overdue library fines through January 5. All donations will be delivered to the St. Johns County Food Closet and distributed locally to meet increased need during the holiday season. Each food item donated equals up to $1 in overdue fines.
- Preseason Beach Passes – Beach driving passes are on sale at pre-season prices of $30 for County residents and $40 for non-residents at the St. Johns County Pier, Tax Collector's Offices, and the Recreation and Parks Office. Beginning March 2, prices will increase by $10. For more information, call the Recreation and Parks Office at (904) 209-0333.
- St. Johns County Health and Human Services Foster Parent Classes – The St. Johns County Family Integrity Program (FIP) is conducting pre-service training classes for anyone interested in becoming a foster parent, from January 14 through April 1. These educational classes offer a challenging, yet fun approach to learning the demands and rewards of serving as a foster care parent. Anyone interested in becoming a foster parent, or learning of other ways they can help, is invited to attend FIP's interactive orientation from 6:30 - 8 pm on Monday, January 7, 2013 at the Health and Human Services Building, 1955 US 1 South, St. Augustine. Please contact Joy Meyerpeter at (904) 209-6131, if you have any questions, or visit www.sjcfl.us/FIP.
- Winter Wonderland Open Through January 6 – Winter Wonderland is open at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre through January 6. With an ice slide, skating rink, and many other holiday and winter themed activities, the event is one of the best family-friendly activities in the region. Please visit www.winterwonderlandfl.com or call (904) 209-0367.
- Christmas Holiday Garbage Collection Schedule – Garbage, recycling, and yard debris will not be collected on Christmas Day. Beginning Tuesday, December 25, collections for the week will be delayed one day with all routes being completed by Saturday, December 29. The solid waste scale houses at Tillman Ridge and Stratton Road will be closed December 25 and will open to the public December 26.
Michael D. Wanchick
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