Reporter- News Analyst
At its June 5, 2012 regular meeting, the Fernandina Beach City Commission heard three significant presentations on decisions and plans affecting the City. First up was State Representative Janet Adkins who briefed the commissioners on the state budget and the recent session of the legislature. She indicated that the 2012 legislative session ended with a one billion dollar shortfall for the state because of declining revenues. The state has a $70B budget with $2.1B in reserves to protect the state’s bond rating. Her revenue pie chart showed that 36% of the revenue; comes from the federal government; 29% comes from state trust funds; and 35% comes from general revenues. 51% of general revenue goes to funding education.
The state spent a good deal of time this past session on redistricting. New maps have been drawn for both the state house and senate districts. Nassau districts have changed considerably, and are available through the Department of State website.
Adkins also spoke to the future of the St. Johns River Ferry. She said that increasing ridership is the long-term solution to keeping the ferry operating. She said that Tallahassee is looking to see a show of community support.
She highlighted a recent article citing Chief Executive’s ranking of Florida as the number two state for business. She said that Tallahassee was all about jobs, and that private jobs are increasing as public jobs decrease.
She invited people to attend her second Education Solutions Summit on July 12 at Florida State College/Jacksonville’s Downtown Campus. She also advised the audience and the commission to visit the Department of State’s website to learn more about the Constitutional Amendments that will appear on the November ballot.
For more information, Janet encouraged people to contact her via email [email protected] or at her district office 905 South 8th Street, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034-3706, Phone: (904) 491-3664.
NATURAL GAS UPDATE
Florida Public Utilities (FPU) General Manager Mark Cutshaw updated the FBCC on providing natural gas to the city of Fernandina Beach. In a brief historical recap, he said that FPU has been on the island since the 1930s. In the 1960s FPU began purchasing electricity wholesale from Jacksonville Electric Authority. In 2003, it sold the water utility to the City of Fernandina Beach and in 2009, FPU was acquired by Chesapeake Utilities. It is costing about $20M to bring natural gas to the island. The line under the Amelia River has been completed. FPUC is laying line north to Rock Tenn for industrial use and to the south end of the island so that the Ritz and the Omni can also recoup savings from natural gas. Several businesses along Sadler Road have also switched to natural gas. Citizens may keep up to date with the progress of natural gas service by signing up for updates on the website http://nassau.fpuc.com.
Wanda Forrest, transportation project manager, presented information on what is planned and programmed in the way of transportation improvements for Nassau County and Fernandina Beach over the next 4 fiscal years. Projects listed for Fernandina Beach include a resurfacing of Jasmine Street from S. 14th Street to Citrona and constructing a sidewalk along Lime Street between 8th and 14th Streets in the coming fiscal year, in addition to several projects related to the Fernandina Beach Airport. The Airport projects are scheduled to occur between fiscal years 2012-13 and 2016-17. The Port of Fernandina is also scheduled for a pier extension next year.
Work to add lanes and reconstruct parts of A1A (SR 200) from I-95 to CR 107 is also slated to begin next fiscal year.
Project details and details of other projects planned for Nassau County are available on the city’s website as item 5.7on the 6/05/12 FBCC meeting agenda.
June 7, 2012 1:15 p.m.