Road improvements are among Clay County's goals. | Zac Gudakov on UnsplashRoad improvements are among Clay County's goals. | Zac Gudakov on Unsplash

Clay County charts a path for next five years

Published on November 29, 2023 at 2:44 pm

Clay County is creating a long list of plans to improve health and safety, development, infrastructure and more over the next five years.

County commissioners discussed the ideas during a workshop Tuesday. They reviewed goals developed with the input of residents, government officials and other community members throughout the year.

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The goals were divided into five categories: community health and safety, economic and community development, good governance, infrastructure, and quality and balance of life.

The goals have not been finalized. That is expected to happen over the next couple of weeks, and the final list will be formally approved at the county commissioners’ meeting Dec. 12. 

Here are highlights:

Community health and safety

  • Decrease fire rescue response times on emergency calls by 15% by building five new fire stations.
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  • Inspect 100% of all high-risk occupancy buildings.
  • Increase law enforcement staffing to 1.26 deputies per 1,000 residents.
  • Maintain current law enforcement accreditation standards.
  • Increase access to automated external defibrillators and Narcan to 250 locations.
  • Register 100 private and nonprofit agencies in Care Connect, an outreach program to help connect residents with the resources they need to live healthy lives.
  • Increase solid waste processing capacity to 1,500 average tons per day.
  • Increase recycling volume by 10%.
  • Increase the number of participants in PulsePoint by 20%. PulsePoint is an app that allows users to track sudden cardiac arrest incidents so they can help save someone’s life.
  • Maintain a no-kill animal shelter .

Economic and community development

  • Attract five new businesses to the county from the list of targeted economic development businesses.
  • Attract 20 new tourism events to the county.
  • Reduce the average permit review time for residential applicants to seven days and for commercial applicants to 30 days.
  • Reduce the county’s community rating system to 5.
  • Establish a building code effectiveness grading schedule.
  • Encourage at least one agricultural land owner to participate in the state’s rural and family lands protection program.

Good governance 

  • Increase overall participation with the county’s social media platforms, website and newsletter by 50%.
  • Increase participation with the county’s emergency alerting systems by 30%.
  • Make sure 95% of county employees receive at least 24 hours of training per year. 
  • Maintain a 90% employee retention rate.
  • Host and facilitate 10 meetings with partner organizations.

Infrastructure

  • Increase ridership for JTA by 20% by providing 50 to 60 bikes per year to help get people to JTA bus stops. 
  • Resurface 100 miles of roads across the county.
  • Improve or add 20 miles of sidewalks or trails.
  • Maintain and improve 10,000 feet of pipes and ditches to improve stormwater drainage.
  • Reduce electricity and water consumption by 5%.

These infrastructure goals come after the state awarded the county a $3.5 million infrastructure grant in September. Gov. Ron DeSantis said at the time that Clay County’s population had grown 35% over the past 10 years. The grant will pay for a new half-mile section of a collector road, Pringle Road, in the northwest corner of Clay County, and enhance a quarter-mile section of County Road 218, which connects U.S. 301 to Blanding Boulevard in Middleburg and ends at Penney Farms on State Road 16.

Quality and balance of life

  • Increase the number of overall county-hosted programs by 20%.
  • Add three places within the county where residents can access the water, for instance adding boat ramps or kayak launches.
  • Increase recreation space by 10%.
  • Increase the amount of conservation land by 10%.

County commissioners will get a budget breakdown on the goals before the meeting Dec. 12, but officials said most of the priorities already have funding in the county’s current five-year capital improvements plan.

The priorities could change over the next five years. Part of the five-year plan is to revisit the goals and budget priorities every year and to have a plan review in 2026.

Lead photo by Zac Gudakov on Unsplash


author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 Steven Ponson has six years of experience covering news in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida. Prior to arriving on the First Coast, Steven also worked in radio in Orlando. He attended the University of Central Florida where he earned a degree in radio and television. Steven has been a reporter, producer, anchor and board operator. Outside of work, Steven loves to watch sports, cook delicious cajun food (as any good Louisiana native does) and spend time outdoors.
author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 Steven Ponson has six years of experience covering news in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida. Prior to arriving on the First Coast, Steven also worked in radio in Orlando. He attended the University of Central Florida where he earned a degree in radio and television. Steven has been a reporter, producer, anchor and board operator. Outside of work, Steven loves to watch sports, cook delicious cajun food (as any good Louisiana native does) and spend time outdoors.