Volusia County’s 2021 State of the County Address
Written by Kristen Schmutz
Belden Communications News
Tuesday afternoon was full of joy and laughter at the 2021 State of the County Address and Luncheon that took place over at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach.
“These events are all a part of the efforts to open Volusia County back up, and we want to thank you all for being here,” said County Chairman Jeff Brower.
The annual event, attended by many prominent figures in the county from the general public to the entire county council, showcased the accomplishments of the County throughout 2020, the goals for the future, and even led to the presentation of a $27,000 check to the Second Harvest Food Bank, that will equal out to $243,000 worth of food to those in need.
“Everything collected in our community will stay in our community,” said Brower, before presenting the check that included leftover funds from the County’s budget for the 2020 State of County event.
Showcasing the accomplishments of 2020, Councilmembers spoke in a video that started with Barbara Girtman, Councilwoman for District 1, who discussed the remarkable participation of almost 100 percent for Volusia County in the 2020 Census. The U.S. Census Bureau honored Volusia County’s efforts in its “2020 Census Best Practices Showcase.”
“Thanks to ambitious marketing, and a little friendly competition throughout the municipalities of the County, Volusia County has seen some significant growth as per the Census. Every voice was counted,” said Girtman.
Billie Wheeler, Vice-chair and Councilwoman for District 2, spoke on behalf of the ECHO and Volusia FOREVER Programs, both of which were renewed in 2020 for another 20 years, after delivering promises of preserving 38,000 acres of land for the public’s enjoyment, as well as more than 240 projects in support of parks, playgrounds, ball fields, multi-use trails, museums, theaters, cultural and arts centers and restoration efforts all around the county.
“This year, the council will be finalizing the language that will keep both programs running through 2041,” said Wheeler.
Danny Robins, Councilman for District 3, led the discussion revolving around the full implementation of Amendment 10 – which led to a full restructuring of government – throughout the County. County Charter offices– like the Sheriff’s Office, the Clerk of Court, the Office of the Supervisor of Elections, the Property Appraisers Office – were converted Constitutional Offices through Amendment 10 also led to the restoration of Tax Collector’s Office, which was abolished under the home rule charter, and is now run by the newly elected Tax Collector Will Roberts.
“In 2020 the County Council approved the budget which has aligned the constitutional offices with enough funding to operate fully,” said Robins.
Heather Post, Councilwoman for District 4, praised Volusia County’s Emergency Response team for their continued efforts in combating a global pandemic, among other emergencies that occurred throughout the county. Volusia County also embraced its growing partnership between eight local cities and Volusia County’s Animal Services division giving both pets and people added protection. The agreement allows cities to retain jurisdiction over animal services within their boundaries but provides additional resources to
certain situations – such as animal fighting – for cities to ask for the County’s help.
“From Hurricane Isaias to the DeLeon Springs Sink Holes, to the DeLand Tornado, Volusia County’s Emergency Response Team rose to the occasion in the face of Emergency, while achieving reaccreditation status,” said Post.
Dr. Fred Lowry, Councilman for District 5, spoke on the infrastructure efforts put forth by the County in 2020. A few projects include widening Howland Boulevard in Deltona, 10th Street in New Smyrna Beach, and Orange Camp Road in DeLand, opening the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge, a new cell phone waiting/observation area at the Daytona Beach International Airport, along with the $14 Million Airport Terminal Project, which is on track for completion in the spring of 2021.
“Mobility is essential for our quality of life, and that is what makes these infrastructure projects important,” said Lowry.
Ben Johnson, Councilman-at-large, had his main focus on the County plans for the $5.7 Million pipeline project, that redirects the wastewater from the County’s Wastewater Treatment plant in Deltona to the water reclamation facility in DeBary. The project will provide a higher level of treatment and result in the consolidation of treatment plants in Southwest Volusia from three to one.
County Chair Jeff Brower spoke on the future of Volusia County, by bringing responsible growth to the County, preserving the places that make Volusia County special, rolling back Property Taxes, providing more Government efficiency, and promising to do his part and making sure everyone is treated with Value, Dignity, and Respect.
“My primary goal is to restore trust in local government,” said Brower. “We need to work together to heal our County. We are Volusia Proud; Volusia Strong.”