Available tax options in St Johns County
St Johns County Commission
Special to Historic City News
FROM OUR FY 2013 ANNUAL REPORT
• Total assets and deferred outflows of resources exceeded total liabilities (reported as net position) by $1,443,598,601 as of September 30, 2013.
• Total net position of the County increased by $13,572,975.
• Unrestricted net position of $141,958,667 represent the amount that may be used to meet the County’s ongoing obligations to citizens and creditors.
The net change in total governmental fund balance decreased by $1,061,335. This is primarily attributed to increases in operational costs and the increased use of resources for capital construction and infrastructure through reserve transfers.
The County’s expenditures cover a range of services; over half are related to public safety, general government, and transportation. Excluding capital outlays and the County debt service requirements, the County’s governmental fund expenditures were increased by $6.6 million or 3.28% from prior year expenditures.
This was primarily attributed to County wage increases; beginning to tackle maintenance projects and capital expenditures that were postponed in previous years; and increase contributions during the fiscal year towards future other post-employment benefits.
The net change in fund balance for the General Fund and County Transportation Trust Fund (CTTF) was a $2.2 million increase and approximately a $4.6 million decrease, respectively. This represents a 4.8% increase in General Fund balance; and a 15.9% decrease in CTTF fund balance.
FROM OUR 2012 REPORT
• Total assets exceeded total liabilities (reported as net assets) by $1,433,628,981 as of September 30, 2012.
• Total net assets of the County increased by $30,318,098.
• Unrestricted net assets of $127,536,828 represent the amount that may be used to meet the County’s ongoing obligations to citizens and creditors.
• The net change in total governmental fund balance increased by $16,493,046. This is primarily attributed to the JEA franchise fee payment for the northern utility service area of the county. The payment is received every 10 years. This year’s payment was $12.2 million. Additionally, significant decreases in operational and capital outlays, throughout all governmental functions and activities, assisted tremendously.
The net change in fund balance for the General Fund and County Transportation Trust Fund (CTTF) was $8.3 million increase and approximately a $3.9 million decrease respectively. This represents a 22.1% increase in General Fund balance; and an 11.8% decrease in CTTF fund balance.
The additional resources necessary to meet expenditures came from other financing resources, additional debt issuance and prior year’s fund balances. The County expects to see a continued decline in these balances over the next several years as capital projects are completed from the five year capital improvement plan and operating expenditures, although reduced from prior fiscal years, are continued to be met through the use of reserves.
SO HOW DO WE FIX THE TRANSPORTATION CRISIS?
1. Set Fiscal Policy by changing the millage in the TTF from .5300 in FY15 ($42 million) to .6300 (2010 level) in FY16 ($50 million) and adjusting General Fund millage to 5.2900
2. Set moratorium on all new county building spending for 2 years. Since 2009, SJC has built EOC, Solomon Calhoun Center, Administration, Health and Human Services, and Courthouse, all with CIP dollars.
3. Set Fiscal Policy by continuing to encourage responsible growth, meaning HUB & Spoke model (Home is close to work, is close to grocery store, is close to doctor, is close to retail, is close to parks, is close to gas station) and enact local option gas tax ($7 million). Fair, equitable, peoples trust in government use of funds, as it is mandated to use on transportation. Will help protect home values, and economic development.
4. Create enterprise zones and set specific goals to increase non-residential development. Imagine a 3-story, 60,000 sq. ft. office building where all 300 employees live in St Johns County (pay property tax, utilities), buy retail (sales tax), get gas here (gas tax), go to the beach (pay to drive on beach), etc. all within boundaries of #3. (UNC Chapel Hill 2010 Economic Development Report estimates one job created internally creates three jobs in the area through vendors, relationships, etc.)
Can we grow out of this?