Apparently, Jesse Fish is buried underneath a money tree, because Todd Neville, a Davis Shores accountant and city commissioner, told Lorena Inclan in a televised interview yesterday that he’s not worried that the legislature has eliminated more than $2 million meant for public works projects in the city — especially one that would prevent flooding in Davis Shores.
Neville admitted that only “some money” was set aside in the city’s budget to begin implementing seventeen potentially life-saving backflow preventers that would protect the island from seawater infiltration of the type reported by Historic City News during Hurricane Matthew.
“I’m not worried about it because we’re going to get it done this year no matter what,” Neville said, even though the full cost of the Davis Shores project is not budgeted and planners were counting on these state funds to complete the work.
The projects that did not receive state funding include retrofitting backflow preventers in Davis Shores, wastewater lift stations that serve The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, and extending sewer capacity in West Augustine.
Neville could only offer his lofty guarantee yesterday because the budget cycle doesn’t begin until next month. That’s when the city manager, John Regan, would normally be expected to formulate and bring forward his plan.
However, at the last commission meeting, Regan announced that he is “reorganizing” the workflow at the city and redirecting responsibility of the department heads in city government, including public works, to junior city manager, Tim Burchfield. It was at the end of that meeting that Regan first publicly introduced his intentions by way of an elementary lecture on human resource management.
- It is not yet clear what legal authority Regan has to absolve himself of the responsibility for these management functions, but perhaps Neville, whose first term on the commission ends next year, knows something that the public does not.
- What the public does know, at this point, is that the City of St Augustine must act soon to pay for these projects that did not make it into the state budget; or to abandon them, or to abandon others that have been contemplated — and have funding.
Neville isn’t saying exactly what projects he will axe.