The Ponte Vedra Beach Municipal Service District (MSD) Board of Trustees voted to maintain the MSD’s .375-millage rate for fiscal year 2018-2019 at its meeting on Monday, July 9 at the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library.
All trustees voted to maintain the millage rate except for Treasurer John Wegl, who was in favor of decreasing the rate. According to Chairman Gary Jurenovich, the MSD has kept the millage at .375 for several years, which he noted is a sign of fiscal responsibility.
“We continue to run a very fiscally sound MSD,” Jurenovich said. “We don’t like to spend money if we don’t have to.”
Trustee Greg Wong pointed to the MSD’s contingency reserve as a reason to maintain the millage rate. At .375, the MSD estimates its contingency reserve will total about $66,900 for the next fiscal year. Lowering the rate would decrease the funds available in that reserve.
“I like lower taxes, but I think the contingency is important for the MSD,” Wong said.
Board Attorney Wayne Flowers noted the board can reduce the millage rate in September when the trustees finalize the MSD’s budget, but it cannot be increased after the July 9 vote.
Residents call for support of strengthened tree ordinance
Also at the MSD meeting, two residents during public comment requested the MSD Board’s support of a strengthened tree ordinance in Ponte Vedra.
Their request comes after a homeowner cut down several trees on his property on Ponte Vedra Circle. Frustrated neighbors say the removal of the trees changes the integrity of the neighborhood because the trees support each other, and isolated trees are more likely to fall during storms.
“They came in and knocked down 28 trees in two days,” Ponte Vedra Circle resident Lauri Rice said at the MSD meeting. “We probably have had 20 trees knocked down in about five years. What they did was bad. … There was no forethought to what they did.”
Ponte Vedra Circle resident Rob Becker, who also serves on the Ponte Vedra Zoning & Adjustment Board (PVZAB), said at the meeting that a group of neighbors has asked county planners to review the tree ordinances for the City of St. Augustine and Atlantic Beach, and identify best practices that can be applied to Ponte Vedra. Becker said the goal is to develop an ordinance that can be installed as an overlay district within the MSD. The next steps, according to Becker, are for the county planners to present information about the tree ordinance at an upcoming PVZAB meeting.
Because the issue has received significant attention in the community, Jurenovich said the board will plan to hold a discussion on it at next month’s MSD meeting.
In other MSD news, Vice Chairman John Cellucci, who manages the MSD’s relationship with Republic Services, said the district’s budget for sanitation will decrease next year, after concluding Republic made a miscalculation concerning the number of houses it services. The finding, Cellucci said, should save the MSD about $12,500 a year for the next six years. Cellucci also noted he has asked Republic for a credit to make up the difference for what the company was actually servicing.
In addition, Wegl said the Ponte Vedra Beach branch of the St. Johns County Tax Collector’s Office will most likely not move to its new location at 151 Sawgrass Corners Drive until January or February of 2019.
The next MSD meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 13 at the library.