Saturday, November 05, 2022


Nicely done blast e-mail exposes controversial Florida State Senator TRAVIS JAMES HUTSON, his family and the other-directed talentless hick hacks promoting a 15% sales tax increase:

1)   That “one penny tax” will cost the average family $4,000* over ten years. The county claims tourists will pay 40% of this tax, but last year’s data* shows tourists paid less than 20% of our sales tax – nowhere near 40%!

2)   Land development and construction interests are clearly behind the political action committee that is running a slick, deceptive ad campaign to convince you to tax yourself. The Better St. Johns Plan PAC is managed by the same people in Tallahassee who run PACS for Senator Hutson and other developers. They teed up Commissioners to put the tax increase on the ballot and justify it by saying they’re giving us “a choice.” Some choice! Now we’re spending money to fight it. Some residents received this outrageously false scenario on their phones:

3)  If that doesn’t make you angry, this will… The developers caused the problems and now they want us to build their parks and roads. After clear-cutting and paving our county at an alarming rate and getting 5600 more homes approved as recently as May (despite overwhelming opposition), Hutson and his ilk have the audacity to run this on their website:

The problem won’t be solved by throwing tax dollars at it. We have to slow the growth and hold developers accountable for infrastructure costs. Senator Hutson** would rather tax us than sponsor a bill to raise impact fees that his company would have to pay.

4)  A very small amount of the tax increase would be spent outside of the northwest part of the county where 89% of the road projects and 71% of the parks/libraries/fire station projects are planned with the “penny tax. That’s because our county did not ask the developers in the northwest part of the county to fund infrastructure as they had for major developments previously, such as Nocatee.

5) Residents with St. Augustine addresses would only receive about $20 million in road repairs out of the $500 million in proceeds from the tax increase. That’s as much as The Hutson Companies are earmarked to receive for the SilverLeaf Park alone!  St. Augustine Beach would also receive a relocation of the fire station, but both of these improvements can be made without a half billion dollar sales tax increase that mostly funds the northwest part of the county.

If you live in Crescent Beach, you get a great big goose egg for your 15% sales tax increase. ZERO improvements are slated for your area.

6)   We had record revenues this year due to home sales and tourism. Why do our commissioners need to raise a sales tax during a boom year? Commissioners just voted to give us a 12.5% millage rate increase over last year’s rolled back rate. We can afford libraries, fire and rescue needs, AND the necessary projects on the county’s list without increasing sales taxes. For roads, we already have a Transportation Trust of $127 million. Our Fire District Fund is $70 million. (9/6/22 BOCC meeting, page 3.)

7)    The St. Augustine Record is critical of the tax and raises some good questions.

8)   Commissioner Arnold*** proposed “educational town halls." Prepare to be propagandized to vote for the sales tax increase.

Voting for the tax increase will turn us into an ATM machine for developers, funding their wish list and increasing the value of their holdings. They’re investing heavily in advertising because they know the payout will be huge for them if the tax increase is passed. Why else would they spend a half million dollars promoting the tax?

GOT QUESTIONS? You won’t find answers on the developers’ “Penny Plan” website because it has no contact form or email address. They’re hiding behind their PAC, and simply expect us to believe them – no questions asked. Don’t play into the developers’ hands. We can afford improvements without taxing ourselves.

Commissioner Waldron alone voted NO on the sales tax increase, NO on the SilverLeaf Expansion and NO on the millage rate increase. That is fiscally conservative governing. We salute Commissioner Waldron’s relentless dedication to the residents. Our prayers are with his family.

VOTE NO on the referendum for the “one cent sales tax” which increases the sales tax 15%. And forward this email to as many people as you can. We don’t have the developers’ advertising budget, but there is power in our numbers.

Thank you for taking the time to read this message from 1st Coast Conservatives United, a political action committee representing concerned citizens of St. Johns and surrounding counties.

*Last year, visitors spent almost $712 million in St. Johns County (per St. Johns County website). A 1% tax on $712M is $7.1M. Over ten years, that’s 71.2M. That is 14% of $500 million (expected from the sales tax increase). Tourism will grow over the next ten years, but not enough to reach 35 or 40% as the county claims. Even if tourism grows faster than our rapidly growing population, it won’t be higher than 20%. If you take 80% of $500 million, that’s how much the rest of us will pay for this sales tax increase over ten years – $4,000 per family.

** Senator Hutson has a history of using taxpayer dollars to fund roads that directly benefit his company’s sprawling development. By sitting on the appropriations committee and working side deals with the president of the senate, Hutson raked in a total of $17.9 million of Florida tax dollars to pay for CR2209 at SilverLeaf. The entire state is subsidizing roads for his massive 16,300-home development. It should be no surprise that he’s hitting up the county as well. (Source: Florida Senate and House Appropriations and Senate Supplemental Funding Initiatives from 2019-2022)

*** Deeply conflicted Commissioner Arnold was sworn in two hours before making the motion to approve her close friend Travis Hutson’s 5600-home SilverLeaf development. The Arnold family has multiple business ties with the Hutsons.

Paid Political Advertisement paid for by 1st Coast Conservatives United, PO Box 20252 St Petersburg, FL 33742

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