Telling reporters in a televised newscast yesterday, St Johns County Commission chairman, Jay Morris, said the goal of a top-to-bottom analysis of county services is to avoid doing the very thing his critics say he has been guilty of during the past two budget years — “kicking the can down the road”.
As he begins to stump for re-election at Republican Party functions in St Johns County, 69-year-old John H “Jay” Morris, has become known for his matter-of-fact representations of the financial strength of the county, sunny predictions of the county’s ability to spend on “quality of life” and major construction projects, like the new Health and Human Services building.
“All of this talk flies in the face of the reality of higher taxes which will be needed to pay for this political pork,” an elected St Johns County Republican Precinct Committeeman told Historic City News. Another Republican counterpart told Historic City News that long-time members of the party are jokingly referring to Morris as the emperor in the children’s story; whose attendants repeatedly praise him for the beautiful clothes he’s wearing — when in reality, he is standing before them naked.
Local reporters learned yesterday that the commission will soon have to decide what county services can and can’t be funded in order to avoid dipping “dangerously low” into the county’s reserve funds — estimated to be about $45 million. At current spending levels, by 2018, those funds have the potential of reaching low levels. If that happens, leaders will have no choice but to decide what stays and what goes.
“Every county service from libraries to the fire department is going to be analyzed in order to decide what can and cannot be funded,” Morris stated. He said that, in the coming weeks, they’ll gather information from “every county department” and prioritize each service. “The main reason of doing this right now is to project ahead of time where we’re going be — and to see what we need to fund,” Morris said.
“We want to get a lot of input from the community,” Morris told one television reporter. “I am not looking to close libraries but everything would be on the table.” During the announcement, Morris observed that, while it’s too early to determine what services could suffer the most, “nothing is out of the question”.
When asked about raising the 6% sales tax, Morris said, “the ultimate decision will lie in the hands of voters on next year’s ballot.”