St. Johns Commissioners Hear Economic Incentive Pitch

St. Johns Commissioners Hear Economic Incentive Pitch

County residents could soon have more options for behavioral and mental health needs after county commissioners gave the OK to draft an economic development incentive agreement with Acadia Healthcare Co.

The company plans to build a 99,485-square foot facility near the intersection of County Road 210 and Moon Bay Parkway to offer inpatient, outpatient, detoxification and residential treatment services.

Project Manager Savannah Rodgers said the facility is expected to be completed at the end of 2025 and the total value of the incentive is $1.6 million. She said the project will create 239 high-wage jobs and add $24.7 million to the gross county product. Acadia will invest $76.6 million for the project.

The proposed incentive package includes expedited permitting, reimbursement of impact fees paid by the company and rebate of ad valorum and tangible personal property taxes for a period of four years. With the project set to be completed in late 2025, the first reimbursement payment would be sometime in fiscal year 2027, according to a county staff report.

Commissioner Krista Joseph said while she believes Acadia is a good company, she had concerns about the plans.

“My problem is again the location of this,” she said. “This is by Moon Bay Parkway (and) this is where we need to build a road.”

Joseph said with the 100 homes being built off of CR 210, the additional traffic generated by the employees and clients at the healthcare center would be a traffic problem.

“It’s a great incentive and I like the company,” she said. “I’m just really worried about the area. It’s a train wreck waiting to happen.”

County Engineer Duane Kent said some of the traffic issues should be resolved before the facility opens.

“It is my understanding this facility won’t be open until after the county’s improvement project on 210 is finished,” he said.

Resident Michael McDonald was less enthusiastic about the potential agreement with the county.

“I would hope you quit giving incentives to every company that comes before you,” he said.

The project did get support from Scott Maynard, senior vice president of economic development at the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce.

“The St. Johns County Chamber is in full support of the Acadia Healthcare incentive request,” Maynard said. “I call it an investment request, not an incentive request.”

Maynard said at a health and wellness forum last summer, participants said behavioral healthcare services were cited as the second-most important need in the county.

“There is a critical need for these services in the county,” he said.

Commissioner Henry Dean said the project also helps lower the property tax burden on residential homeowners.

Saying that in 2016, 90% of ad valorum taxes came from residential payers and that balance has shifted to where businesses are now paying 20% of the tax burden.

“We’re putting more of the tax burden where there are less demands for services,” he said. “To me, this is a very small amount to get a very large return on our investment.”