Letter: The New Julington Creek Plantation CDD Board
Natalie R. Page, Vice Chairperson
St Johns, FL
Dear Historic City News Editor:
According to popular business magazine, no matter how or where you work, successful businesses in 2016 are becoming leaner and more efficient. The Julington Creek Plantation CDD Board of Supervisors (BOS) is a perfect example. Over the past 18 months, the current CDD board has implemented a better, more efficient business model, saving the Julington Creek Plantation tax payers almost $300,000.
I have served on the BOS from 2012 to the present. During that time, I suggested numerous ways of restructuring operations that would save money. It wasn’t until 2014, that any of my suggestions gained traction. In 2014 the BOS had a shift in leadership and began implementing much needed cost saving measures to keep assessments low.
The new BOS leadership, elected in fall of 2014, wasted no time finding ways to save money, eliminate risk and provide more efficient services- all while adding popular new activities such as Food Truck Friday and a volleyball league. A key change involved restructuring the CDD under an amenity company who specializes in maintaining and operating amenities and resorts.
Listed below is what I feel are the top 9 accomplishments and the approximate cost savings for each:
1) Contract with an amenity company to manage the CDD operation. The original GM total compensation of salary and benefits of $120,000. The current amenity company is performing the GM duties for a flat fee of $112,350. Approx. Savings: $8,000.
2) Require non-residents to pay higher fee to use CDD facilities. In order to make the amenities more exclusive and increase property values the board suspended or eliminated many of the non-resident rates. This means the non-resident will be required to pay for a yearly pass of $1,300. For the first time in 10 years the residents will no longer subsidize non-resident amenities. Previously non-residents could have lived somewhere else and just paid a low daily rate of $5 for a day at our facilities. Now, Julington Creek homes have a more exclusive Recreation center with reduced crowding. Approx. Savings: $20,000.
3) Contract with a business to operate the Café. The Café was leased to an independent contractor for $100 per month. At first glance that seems like a like a good deal for the contractor, but keep in mind the café lost about $130,000 in the last 5 years and about $30,000 in the last year before it was leased. For the first time this amenity will at least break-even with very little risk to the residents. This was also done in order to improve service and quality for residents at the pool and reduce expenses as the café was never able to break-even in the past while being operated by the CDD. Approx. Savings: $30,000.
4) Lease underutilized administration building. The administration building was leased to a business for $50,000 per year because it was underutilized, only being used for offices of 3 CDD employees and for camps a few weeks of the year. The camps were relocated and the 3 CDD employees were relocated to the main campus which generated rent and saved administrative costs having all the staff in one location. Approx. Savings: $60,000.
5) Streamline administration. The departments of Administration, Resident Relations and Aquatics were all moved under the GM amenity contract and every department was contracted for lower than the current CDD department budget. In the administrative departments the CDD contracted with supply companies so items could be delivered to the Rec center rather than pay staff mileage to pick up items. We also eliminated cell phones for all the employees, except for critical staff. Approx. Savings: $35,000.
6) Contract with a professional tennis company. The Tennis Department was restructured so that the CDD went from about a $30,000 annual loss to about a $30,000 annual gain which will fund continual tennis maintenance for the clay courts and lighting. All the employees went from being CDD employees to being independent contractors who lease court space so the same programs and activities could take place but in a different structure. Approx. Savings: $60,000.
7) Contract with amenity company for lifeguards and pool maintenance. The Aquatics Department was restructured, which allowed the CDD to reduce the amount of staff hours and still follow Red Cross guidelines. Additionally, pool hours were increased and extended to allow residents use of the recreation pools for longer periods during the day and more months per year. Since being elected in 2012, the Aquatics budget has been reduced by over $290,000. Approx. Savings this year: $30,000.
8) Facilitate Swim Team to form non-profit and lease lanes. The Swim Department became a private organization, and is no longer subsidized by the CDD. The CDD entered into a contract with the new Loggerhead Swim Team organization which allows the team extensive use of the JCP swim facilities. Under the lease agreement, the CDD is compensated to fund the pool heating costs and use of the pool, and this eliminated the annual losses. Approx. Savings: $10,000.
9) Refinancing the CDD Bonds. Approx. Savings per year: $48,000.
To conclude, our future is bright, and I can proudly say the CDD is finally moving in a financially prudent direction. I hope residents who hear negative rumors about the current management of the JCP CDD take a minute to learn the truth about “how it was” and “how it is today” within the CDD. Those who come to understand the details of the recent changes this Board has made will clearly see they have been good stewards of our money and have made very positive changes in the operation of our recreational facilities.