Q: Can you give an update on the budget process [as of interview date of May 13]?
A: The St. Johns County Fiscal Year 2023 Administrator’s Budget Workshop will be held May 23 – 25. This is the first step for us to see the proposed budget for next year as we will hear in detail from every county department head what their needs are and why. This is not the last opportunity for public comment; there will be opportunities for discussion at the Board of County Commissioners meetings in July and August. This is a multi-month process. I think especially with the proposed one penny sales tax on the November ballot, this is a good way for everyone to see the condition of the county budget. The information will also be available online at www.sjcfl.us.
Q: As a county commissioner, what are your budget priorities?
A: My budget priorities really haven’t changed. I would say we need money for roads, we need money for ballparks, especially in the Northwest, and we have many drainage needs to address.
Q: Do you have any new information regarding the widening of a portion of County Road 210?
A: We have just received the bid back to widen that portion of County Road 210 between Cimarrone and Greenbriar Road from two lanes to four. The price went up from $24 million to $30 million for this project. Fortunately we have the money to handle this increase and residents should start seeing work start in the next several months. The county’s public works director has told the commissioners that the work would be finished in under 700 days.
I think we can expect to see more cost increases with the current economy. The Florida Department of Transportation just tripled its construction estimate for building roads in Florida.
Q: What can you tell us about workforce housing in the county?
A: When I was sworn in, affordable housing was a problem, but now it’s a full-blown crisis. St. Johns County just landed on a list as the 11th least affordable place to live in the country, and that was based on the median home price in 2020 of $392,000. Now that median home price is $550,000. Our teachers, sheriff’s deputies and firefighters can’t afford to live here. But we had some good news recently. Our partners at Ability Housing have been fighting for state funding and they were finally awarded it. Part of getting this workforce housing designation is the requirement to build close to where most people utilizing it will work, so as of now all of these developments are near downtown St. Augustine. Our Board of County Commissioners has approved every workforce housing project brought before us, but we need more. This will certainly help.
Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you?
A: Readers can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (904) 584-5348.