The St Johns County Board of Commissioners recently approved a ballot initiative for an additional $0.01 increase to the county sales tax to fund a list of infrastructure projects that have been on hold due to lack of adequate funding. Estimates provided to the Board of Commissioners value these backlogged projects to be in the $500 million dollar range. Revenue gained from the increase will be used solely for funding infrastructure projects (no administrative costs or salaries) and those proposed projects will be reviewed by a five-member Citizens Advisory Committee prior to submission to the County Board of Commissioners. The $0.01 increase will end after 10 years and may only be extended by an incremental referendum passed by the voters of St Johns County.
Our parks and recreation infrastructure is in need of repair and expansion due to population growth in our county. Many of our athletic facilities have not had any recent capital investment and no new parks have been constructed in the Ponte Vedra area since Davis Park in 2001. Population growth combined with parents’ desire to have their kids engaged in outdoor activities has driven PVAA enrollment to maximum capacity due to a shortage of fields and facilities. We need parks for our kids to play and we need them updated in order for our kids to play safely.
After reviewing this initiative with St Johns County officials, our PVAA Board of Directors unanimously approved a motion to support the proposed $0.01 increase in the sales tax as proposed on November 8 General Election Ballot. Our board feels the infrastructure upgrades are long overdue and the incremental investment will help PVAA provide more kids the opportunity to play sports in a safe and competitive environment. Here are the reasons behind our board’s support of this referendum:
The infrastructure project list will directly benefit PVAA sports, their facilities, and families. These proposed infrastructure projects include:
- Nocatee Park - $16MM. (Greater soccer, lacrosse, and baseball capacity).
- Road expansions - $29MM. (Mickler Road to Roundabout; Roscoe Road to Roundabout)
- Sidewalks - $ 6MM. (in addition to recent $4MM grant to connect Palm Valley Rd)
Recent studies show 40% of this increase will be paid by residents from other counties.
Without this immediate revenue increase, funding for parks expansion in the Ponte Vedra area will not occur until well into the future. The only revenue option would be millage rate increase, which our board felt was not a responsible solution at this time. PVAA has requested a say in how the revenue is spent. We have volunteered to provide a representative to sit on the citizen’s advisory committee to help steer funding for parks and recreation.
Immediate expansion and investment in our parks and recreation facilities are critical for PVAA athletic leagues to continue to serve as many children of St Johns County as possible. Our Board of Directors believes this 1 penny sales tax increase is the most responsible method to fund infrastructure investment and provide PVAA the facilities required to offer as many kids a positive athletic experience as possible. We encourage each of our parents to review and vote yes to this proposed referendum.
Eric Henkel, President
Ponte Vedra Athletic Association