Q: It’s county budget time again. Can you share any insight?
A: The initial overview for this process was presented to us in March. The three day budget hearings will be held May 24 – 26 and are open to the public, but by that time funds will have already been allocated as a draft to each department. I would invite the public to contact me now to let me know their priorities. I have some priorities of my own, like ballfields and basic infrastructure, which needs to be addressed as our county grows. We have deficient roads in the Northwest as well as we need to get some properties off septic tanks.
Q: Do you have an update on parks?
A: Yes, we have a new park, which will include ballfields, going in around the State Road 16/International Golf Parkway area. It is already budgeted and is in the permitting stage now.
Q: What can you tell us about the proposed project on County Road 210W along a new extension of Veterans Parkway known as the Helow property?
A: This is proposed to be a massive project to include 3,500 homes and 2.5 million square feet of commercial/retail space. At this point, it is just an application that is working its way through our growth management process and is not scheduled to come before the Board of County Commissioners until at least fall. Because this is a quasi-judicial matter, I’m required to hear all competent, substantial evidence before rendering a decision and can’t comment more than that at this time. But I do welcome the community’s input.
Q: Is there an item that you seem to get a lot of questions about that you would like to address here?
A: Yes, right now I’m receiving a lot of emails from constituents regarding Project Breeze. The applicant, who is allowed to remain anonymous due to state statute until their second hearing, is proposing to invest $100 million in the project, including land and construction of the facility. They will retain some jobs here and bring in new jobs as well. They are seeking economic incentives from the county. If we are going to pursue economic development in St. Johns County, which was part of my campaign platform, then these types of economic incentives are necessary to attract high paying jobs and be competitive with surrounding areas. I would never vote for an economic benefit package unless I was convinced there was a net financial benefit to the county. I’m doing my due diligence to make sure that the economic benefit to the county is more than the incentives they are requesting. The second hearing on this project will be held at one of our commissioner meetings in May.
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) 584-5348.