Guest Column – Cyndi Stevenson

Commissioner StevensonYour Taxes-Your Community-Your Quality of Life

Like you, the county is facing costly price increases and budget uncertainties caused by the slowing economy and Amendment 1. To address that county staff and our new administrator, Michael Wanchick, are looking for new ways to save money and keep up the level of service you expect.

Florida’s Counties deliver essential services based on standards set by the State and Federal Government for such essential services as:

Law Enforcement
Fire Protection
Emergency Medical Services
Growth Management

Urbanizing counties like St. Johns are under constant pressure from citizens with increasing expectations for higher levels of services. These cost increases often exceed cost of living.

In the past St. Johns County has been able to invest a small portion of your property tax dollars to protect the quality of life that our citizens hold so dear. Things like coastal access, ball fields, parks and libraries to meet the desires of our growing community. This will be increasingly difficult to do this with slowed growth and the public and state requirements for property tax relief.

We face real challenges on the funding of essential infrastructure needs which businesses require and is often quickly overtaken by the growth in residential development. Many of these challenges are too large and too costly for local governments or new development to provide alone. The board is preparing for a public discussion on alternatives to meet these challenges.

All levels of government and the private sector must work together to maintain an affordable quality of life for all residents and a competitive business environment as well.

As a region we compete for economic development opportunities. These employers will help keep our communities vibrant-our home values stable and reduce our dependence on residential taxes. It will require investment in education and infrastructure to keep our region competitive.

To succeed will take the courage to try new ways of doing things and sound business- minded decisions. As many of the solutions require partnerships, communication, civility and respect are critical to our success.

Cyndi Stevenson
St. Johns County Commissioner
District 1

Please visit our County Website for information–from preparing your family for hurricane season to videos about our parks. Hope you are enjoying your summer exploring Historic St. Johns County and the Real Florida right in our back yard.