Commissions Hear ‘State of the County’ Report

The last 12 months were busy in St. Johns County, and 2023 promises more of the same.

“There was a lot that was accomplished,” said St. Johns County Administrator Hunter S. Conrad in his annual State of the County presentation to the County Commission.

“It’s easy for all of us to get caught up in the day-to-day grind and lose sight of what is actually being accomplished,” he said.

A short video presentation highlighted several 2022 achievements, including completion of road and drainage projects, earning national recognition for financial stewardship and weathering two storms – hurricanes Ian and Nicole.

The video also touted economic gains, especially in tourism development.

“Not that tourism is back in full swing, but we are seeing the benefits like never before,” according to the video presentation. That includes more than $22 million in tourist development tax revenue and supporting 30,000 jobs.

Conrad said 2023 is expected to be another year of progress, highlighted by major capital projects including a new fire station, a public library branch and transportation work.

“Significant transportation improvements are going forward in the coming year,” he said.

All of it means more activity for one of the state’s fastest-growing counties.

“Overall we expect continued growth in the county, but at a slower pace than the past year,” said Joy Andrews, deputy county administrator and economic development director, in an interview.

“In 2022 we saw all-time highs in employment and wages, and the construction of housing and commercial structures was a substantial driver,” she said.

Andrews said resident and commercial permit activity began to slow in mid-2022 compared with 2021 levels, leading to expectations of continued slowing this year.

“Broader leading economic indicators are signaling slower growth nationwide this year which could effect our tourism industry,” she said. “However, we won’t have revealing data on this until the summer.”