Commission creates special taxing unit for beach renourishment

The St. Johns County Commission took the first step toward paying for the first phase of beach renourishment in Ponte Vedra Beach at Tuesday’s meeting.

But aside from the clarity of the general direction, there really wasn’t much decided.

The board voted 3-2, with commissioners Jeb Smith and Jimmy Johns dissenting, to create a Municipal Service Taxing Unit (MSTU) in order to raise $1.2 million for beach renourishment. The money would pay for permitting, studies and design of a renourishment plan for about 9 miles of beach from the Duval County line south to Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve.

With the creation of the MSTU, the Commission has the option to levy an additional 0.6 mills. It’s expected to take two years to raise the $1.2 million. The Commission authorized the immediate transfer of $1 million from the General Fund to pay for the Phase I work to continue, and the MSTU or some other funding source will eventually pay back the fund.

However, the MSTU is just the starting point. Just because it’s available doesn’t mean it will be used.

Commissioners talked about several other options for funding the first phase. The county is looking at possible grants from the state and federal governments. It’s possible one or both of those would provide some money, although chances are good that it would be matching funds.

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