Wednesday, July 19, 2023

St. Johns County Commissioners Appoint Joy Andrews Interim County Administrator. (SJC Civic Roundtable)

Congratulations to Ms. Joy Q. Andrews, our new County Administrator Ad Interim, pending national search.   From the newsletter of the St. Johns County Civic Roundtable: 

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St. Johns County Board of County Commission (BOCC) accepted the written resignation from former County Administrator Hunter Conrad and a separation agreement effective June 29, and appointed Deputy County Administrator Joy Andrews the Interim County Administrator as they begin a national search for a new County Administrator. 
BOCC Chairman Christian Whitehurst stated, "The St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners has full faith and confidence in Joy Andrews to lead us forward as we continue to maintain a continuity of operations with services and programs for the citizens and visitors of St. Johns County. We appreciate the extraordinary work of County staff as we continue to make progress on numerous capital improvement projects totaling nearly $280 million, including road improvements and beach nourishment efforts, as well as plans for the 2024 Fiscal Year Budget that begins Oct. 1. We will be prudent and purposeful on a national search as we work together to identify a permanent County Administrator."
The BOCC will draft an employment agreement with Andrews to serve as Interim County Administrator and conduct a national search for a permanent County Administrator with the aid of an executive firm. It also will assemble a selection committee to review applications and develop a list of finalists for interviews with the entire BOCC. The selection committee will be comprised of: St. Johns County Commissioner Henry Dean, St. Johns County Director of Human Resources Lilian Hutchinson, St. Johns County Clerk of Court Brandon Patty, St. Johns County Property Appraiser Eddie Creamer, and former Coca-Cola Senior Vice President Jerry Wilson.
Andrews graduated from Nanjing University School of Law in 2002, where she concentrated on International Commerce and Trade Law. During that time, she served at the University's Legal Aid Center. In 2005, Andrews moved to the United States to attend the Kansas State University School of Public Administration, where she received a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Public Finance. Andrews joined St. Johns County in 2006 as a Budget Analyst for the Office of Management and Budget, and she also held the position of Director of Health and Human Services before accepting the role of Deputy County Administrator in 2015.
Interim County Administrator Joy Andrews said, "I am humbled by the trust the Board of County Commissioners have placed in me to steer the County services forward while it conducts its national search. I fully accept the weight of this responsibility. We have dedicated and determined employees who embody the very mission of public service. Together, we will continue charting our course forward with excellent service delivery and an unwavering commitment to the community we love."

County Commission Meeting Recap - July 18

Public Safety Update

At the July 18, 2023 St. Johns County Commission meeting, the Fire Chief previewed new high-tech vehicles that have just been delivered to the department. 

The Sheriff Department reports the War on Drugs continues as a pressing problem and priority. Last year the department seized 518 grams of Fentanyl which would be enough to kill every resident of the county. Inmates do receive drug rehabilitation therapy during their incarceration. 

The Clerk of the Court’s office highlighted the juror selection process. Each month 500 names are randomly called to serve in a jury. 

Northeast Florida Regional Council (NEFRC) conducted joint exercises last month with the county’s Fire Rescue to help educated firefighters on safely rescuing individuals exposed to hazardous materials. 

Agenda Items

West Augustine Medical Clinic 
 The Board unanimously approved the vacation of right away at N. Brevard and N. Volusia Streets for the new medical clinic for West Augustine. The medical facility is the result of lots of efforts on the part of many in the community. 

FY 2024 Budget
Joy Andrews, Deputy County Administrator, presented a comprehensive review of Board projects and activities during the year which touched upon public works, infrastructure, utilities, community revitalization, health and human services, fire rescue, economic development, tourism development, parks and recreation, and library systems. The County’s credit rating has been upgraded to Aaa by Moody’s credit analysis. 
   The Office of Management & Budget has changed the format of the budget by putting it online and making it more interactive and organized by service area. At the next meeting of the Board on August 1, Commissioners will set the millage rate and determine the September date for the first budget hearing. 

The taxable value growth increase for FY 2024 is 16.5% which will result in $43.6 million in property tax revenue for the county. The county will receive $59 million from the State of Florida for transportation and coastal protection in the next year. 

Commissioner Dean made two recommendations: to increase funding to $2 million for the Land Acquisition & Management Program (LAMP) and increase funding for library services. It was also recommended to add 18 new positions for Fire Rescue and increase county employee salary by 7%. The Board approved all of the above recommendations by consensus votes. 

Bella Terra PUD
The applicant requested a waiver to submit a new application for the Bella Terra project. The project was rejected by the Board in March 2023, but now has a new developer who is proposing to build single family homes instead of multifamily units. The waiver was approved by a 3-2 vote (Joseph, Whitehurst).

Whatley Lane (Paver Setback)
 A request for a waiver to allow for pavers to be located closer than three feet to the side of the property was denied 4-1 (Whitehurst).

Little Florence Cove
The Board approved 19.8 acres east of the Shands Bridge and south of SR 16 and SR 13 N Interchange for five single family homes with docks. 

RV & Boat Storage of St. Augustine 
 Also approved 4.2 actress on the west side of US 1 S. between Bella Terra Drive and Watson Road for a new storage facility. 

Settlement of Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC Litigation 
The Board unanimously approved a $325,000 settlement with the above accounting firm resulting from an $800,000 embezzlement by an employee of the Sheriff’s Department that was not found during the audit.

Tree Protection Ordinance 
Staff reviewed the existing county tree protection provisions. Commissioner Joseph proposed 14 amendments to add and update the ordinance. A motion by Commissioner Dean directed staff to report back with recommendations on each of the 14 points and passed 4-1 (Alaimo). 

Appointments to County Boards
Appointed to the North Coastal Design & Review Board are: Jane Norton, Mary Sullivan and Kathleen Floryan. 
The vacancy on the Ponte Vedra Zoning & Adjustment Board is filled by Anthony Peduto. 

Shamrock Sports Proposal
 The Board received an unsolicited proposal by sports facilities companies to develop a recreational and sporting facility in the county. The proposal has a large emphasis on soccer fields but can also accommodate baseball and track and field. These companies want to bring high level professional soccer to Northeast Florida and to unite an already vibrant soccer community in the region. Florida ranks fourth in the nation in soccer participation with 500,000 youth participants. The organization partners with the Tim Tebow Foundation to increase all youth participation in sports and especially those with special needs. The Board voted 5-0 to see if land could be swapped for such a dedicated sports facility and a study of the costs to the county. 

Proposed Separation Agreement of County Administrator
County Administrator Hunter Conrad submitted his resignation on June 29, 2023. He no longer had the confidence of most of the Commissioners. The Board accepted the separation agreement, appointed Joy Andrews as Interim County Administrator and asked for an interim contract be drawn up. The Board also voted 5-0 to conduct a national search and use an executive recruiter. Chairman Whitehurst appointed a search committee comprised of Commissioner Henry Dean, Clerk of the Court Patty, Human Resource Director Hutchinson, County Appraiser Eddie Creamer and Jerry Wilson, retired Coke Cola executive. 

Tourism Development Council
 The Board approved 4-1 (Joseph) to move $399,000 to contractual services to help bolster a softening tourism market. 

Commissioners Reports
 Commissioner Joseph thought it would be useful to have the Board meetings signed and staff will consult the local Deaf and Blind School to see if this might be a useful exercise for their students. 
Commissioner Arnold asked staff to do an economic development analysis for Hastings. She also asked for a waiver of rental fees for the Solomon Center for “Shoes of Hope” to use for their annual campaign for back to school shoes. Commissioner Arnold asked the county to purchase the Zora Neale Hurston home for $239,000 and received unanimous approval. As a national Historical Landmark, the home
can be a tourist attraction. 
Commissioner Dean congratulated Joy Andrews as the new Interim County Administrator.

Commissioner Alaimo attended his first meeting as a board member of the FAC in Orlando. 

 Interim County Administrator Andrews announced the news that the county has just received a $1 million grant to help purchase the Genova property from the Florida Boating and Waterways Navigation Organization. 
Know What is Going Where

Do you want to know what is being proposed to be constructed around St. Johns County? The Neighborhood Bill of Rights is the County's system for notifying the public of all development proposals that are moving forward. If you would like to receive Neighborhood Bill of Rights notifications, please 

If your HOA is not getting the notifications, you may want to register. Or you may want to check to see if your HOA is listed with the correct person as HOA's turn over on a regular basis.

Want to know more about the Neighborhood Bill of Rights? Click Here
Right to Clean Water

There is an effort underway for a constitutional amendment for the Right to Clean Water. This movement has become even more important because of the Supreme Court's recent actions on the Clean Water Act and the recent bills that have been passed in Tallahassee. Find out what this effort is about and how to sign the petition to get this on the ballot.

Florida at First Sight.”

What is important to you?

The mission of the Roundtable

is to preserve and improve

the quality of life in St. Johns County

We want your input on issues of importance in our County. Is there an issue in your neighborhood? Or an item that needs to be considered? Let us know!

Come and bring a friend to learn what is going on around the County, discuss issues of importance and join with us as we work to preserve and improve the quality of life in St. Johns County.

For more information, contact us at
Lisa McGlynn, Chair
Elizabeth Tate, Vice Chair
Committee Chairs:
Janet Patten, Government Affairs
John Pilecki, Education 
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