St. Johns County legislators hear local needs

St Johns Legislative Delegation
After bringing home $59M in 2023's Session, local legislators will be 'back for more' in 2024.

House Speaker Paul Renner, Sen. Travis Hutson and Rep. Cyndi Stevenson were again greeted with familiar asks from the fast-growing county south of Jacksonville as St. Johns County’s veteran legislative delegation heard from community stakeholders.

Commissioner Sarah Arnold of the St. Johns County Commission noted desires for capital improvement projects, and “decisive action to remove regulations” that “impede” the construction of public schools.

She noted the county drew down $59 million last Session, and joked “we’re back for more.”

Sheriff Rob Hardwick also expressed gratitude, this time for a bill imposing age restrictions on golf carts pushed by Stevenson in the 2023 Legislative Session.

He also noted the need for a new Backup 911 center. The current backup center is in a flood zone, he noted.

Mayor Nancy Sikes-Kline of St. Augustine likewise expressed gratitude for the delegation’s work, and brought new asks.

Among the needs: $7 million for septic to sewer conversions; $1 million for a Spain-Florida underwater archaeology exhibit; and $2.1 million for the Ravenswood land conservation acquisition, to “serve as a buffer” from flooding.

She also urged support on “policy issues,” including flood mitigation issues and a bill to increase fines for historic structure demolition, and “more definition of prohibited … home based businesses,” including bans on concerts and machine work.

St. Augustine Beach Vice Mayor Dylan Rumrell also thanked the delegation for bringing a record amount of money to the county in 2023, and asked for more help with stormwater mitigation, noting that even this week’s non-tropical rains created flood impacts.

Flagler College’s Beth Sweeny brought gratitude from her own institution, which just started (with the Legislature’s blessing) a “classical institute” in the last year and is also immersed in the long sought Hotel Ponce de Leon renovation, which is far enough along to allow students back in the 135 year old building.

Sweeny noted the west wing of the building’s renovations would start in May, after the current academic year ends.

The Florida School for the Deaf and Blind’s Tracie Snow said the school was “overjoyed” with its own capital projects, meanwhile, and “thrilled” that the school got full funding from the state Department of Education. The school is looking for another renovation project this Session, for McClure Hall, an on-campus building last updated in 1988.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski

One comment

  • Gerry James

    October 15, 2023 at 2:53 pm

    These political Republican establishment hacks, will act like Santa Claus to all the constituents of St. Johns County who do not know the game. Its Our Tax Payer Money. They will enrich themselves with massive campaign donations from the very developers they are working for. All while we see our county look more like Atlanta or Orlando than any of us ever wanted. Most take massive campaign donations from the Development, building, insurance industry, Disney and the legal lobbyist as well. How do you like our insurance rates? These political hacks come here and tell you about all the money they are so-called bringing home like they earned it or worked for it. Then they try to extort your vote. STOP buying into their political nonsense. Its our money. These people are not conservatives, patriotioc or working for you. Ask yourself just one question. Has any one of them done one thing in there political career to SHRINK the size or scope of our County or State Government? I promise you given the opportunity with a team of auditors I could cut more from the state budget than these politicians bring us back from our tax dollars.

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