Q: As of last month, Hunter Conrad had just been hired as the county’s interim county administrator. Can you give an update on the search on for the permanent county administrator?
A: The Board of County Commissioners is responsible for the determination of the interim county administrator as well as the permanent one. We want to demonstrate that whoever gets the permanent position is the correct person with the best fit for St. Johns County. I advocate for whatever is necessary, including possibly a nationwide search, to demonstrate that we’ve performed our fiduciary responsibility to our constituents. Representing the interests of the people and not taking short cuts for this long-term decision is what I call good government.
Q: Do you have any new information about beach renourishment?
A: My understanding is that the federal government has recently approved money for St. Johns County beach renourishment. In order to receive these funds, a local funding source for a small percentage of the total is needed. We would have to find and provide these funds. What I hear the most is that we should use some of our reserve funding, and that might happen, but it’s important to note that in that case, these funds would then not be available for current maintenance needs — and also it would hinder our potential bonding capacity. This is all something we will need to consider and discuss. Federal funds sound like a great deal for us; we just need to make sure that this is where the majority of our St. Johns County residents would like their local dollars spent.
Q: Do you have anything else to share with NW St. Johns County?
A: I regularly hear people question, with concern, the pace of growth in our county, so I am currently having staff put together some numbers so that we can see factually if growth has spiked in recent years. They will provide numbers on population (I do know that we have netted an increase of between 5,000 – 7,000 people each year for the past few years) as well as the number of platted and approved (but not yet constructed) residential lots. One fact I’m aware of is that in 2019, we had 10 percent fewer residential building permits issued than 2018. It’s important to understand and consider all these numbers. We don’t want to contract too quickly, because that would raise demand and the cost of housing, making it unaffordable, just as too much availability will drive housing prices down. When I get these numbers from staff, I will share them — hopefully by the next issue of The CreekLine.
Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you?
A: Readers can email me at email@example.com or call me at (904) 615-7437.