An electronic roadside sign flashing directions to the relatively new branch of the Flagler County Tax Collector’s Office on State Road 100 caught the wrong eye of the Flagler Beach City Commission, which wants it gone in two weeks. Ironically, Tax Collector Suzanne Johnston opened the new branch in the old Food Lion shopping center mostly to serve Flagler Beach residents, though that’s not the only reason the electronic sign went up there.
The new branch opened last February, but more recently the very popular part of the office that takes concealed weapons applications moved from the main office at the Government Services Center to the Flagler Beach location, which affords more privacy y to applicants. The sign was to give the location more visibility, as residents from Flagler, St. Johns and Volusia all use that permitting process for convenbelience rather than apply through more cumbersome regional offices. “We really wanted people to know,” says Rae Nescio, Johnston’s right-hand woman at the collector’s office, “and everybody who comes into that office just raves and raves about how nice it is.”
She added: “We were only going to leave this rolling sign there for a couple of weeks”
Initially, Johnston had placed yard signs pointing to the new location, along the right of way. She wanted to catch the attention of drivers and also have signs there by First Friday, the monthly outdoors event that draws hundreds of people to Veterans Park in Flagler Beach. Code enforcement picked up the yard signs, which cost her $8 apiece, even though she said the Department of Transportation had told her they were fine there. Then she or a staffer contacted Steve Garten, the county’s emergency services manager, who dispatched the electronic sign to the right of way.
Flagler Beach City Commissioner Rick Belhumeur didn’t like that, seeing spite in the installation of the sign. “It doesn’t belong there,” he said Thursday morning. “I’m going to make an issue out of it. That’s just her attacking back, in my mind.”
Johnston, speaking by phone Thursday evening, was taken aback by the claim. “You know me, I’m not a spiteful person at all, Johnston said. “I’m sorry he thinks I would be that type of person. I try to bend over backward to help the residents and letting them know about it. First Friday is a big deal and I knew there’d be a lot of people going that way there.”
At the very moment when Johnston was being interviewed by phone, the city commission was discussing the electronic sign, with none of the four commissioners present too thrilled about it, though they realized that the city itself uses traffic signage as well, as will the Department of Transportation when it rebuilds State Road A1A.
“Electric reader boards are allowed when it’s related to traffic,” Drew Smith, the city attorney, said, though if the sign is flashing, it’s a different matter.
“But it’s not traffic related,” Jane Mealy, who chairs the commission, said of the tax collector’s sign.
“But you can make the argument that that is traffic related because it is informing the public where to turn for the Tax Collector’s office,” Smith said.
Commissioner Joy McGrew proposed a compromise: give the tax collector 10 days, then the sign goes away. “It’s always temporary,” she said. “Because it is a government agency and it is a service that’s offered to our residents, we should allow them to have it up.”
“How come we put a time limit on it then?” Belhumeur said, not understanding why, if it’s not allowed by city code, the sign should remain at all.
None of the commissioners knew by then that Johnston had already solved the issue herself. “I can throw a ball to the sign that says City of Flagler Beach,” Johnston said, referring to the distance from her branch to the city limit. “So we wrote the county a message and moved it back over outside the city. So it’s no big deal.” Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation is minting new roadside signs for the tax collector that will direct eastbound and westbound traffic to the branch. Those signs will be planted along State Road A1A in about two weeks. And one or two of them may well be within Flagler Beach’s city limits.
Ken Dodge says
And here I thought he wanted the sign gone because ‘Collector’ is misspelled.
Rick Belhumeur says
My name is spelled wrong too Ken.
Thank you Ms. Johnston for moving the message board back before our entrance sign. It was in a bad spot before, the first thing you’d see after crossing the entrance to our city. My apologies, no offense was intended.
I thought the same thing! 😂😂
Is the address of that new tax office Flagler Beach, or is it in Flagler County? Good catch on the sign spelling, Ken. :-)
You are kidding me….. this is all they have to complain about?? What is with you people?
PC Newbie says
The things these people complain about
they should all be voted out
I thought that office was there to help stimulate the area.
Too busy complaining to take exception to the spelling. Maybe they all spell it that way.
You got that right Ken! Ha ha.
Not too PC says
Maybe someone should look into expanding the Palm Coast office. I think the dressing rooms in Baby Gap are bigger than that entire location.
These folks are a joke…important stuff
This article is just petty, and how I wish I got paid to sit around and worry about petty things!! From the article, I assume Suzanne got the last laugh, by moving her sign just outside the limits of pettyville.
Rick don’t you have anything better to do!!!!
Concerned Citizen says
So yet again we have a clear example of city/county officials not getting along at our expense.
I understand that Flagler Beach wants their area to look nice. I also understand that they don’t get along with the county on many issues. However Flagler beach doesn’t mind when people and other government agencies bring in money for them do they.
I highly doubt that Steve Garten or Suzanne Johnston would be trivial enough to say hey let me piss off the FB City Commission by sticking a sign where I know they don’t want it.
Instead of wasting your time bickering about stupid reader signs how about focusing more on important issues? Seems we are seeing more and more of Rick Belhumeur pop up and not in a positive light.
Our Government Officials need to learn to grow up do their job properly and get along. Represent your constituents and not your egos.
Are you kidding me? The commissioners are outta control…why worry about a small thing…it’s informing the public! If your so interested in small things? How about you all wanna bes ,try crossing in a cross walk…up by the shell station,or over by the farmers market…no one stops!….try it…to me that’s a bigger issue! Stop the stupidity! Leave her sign stay…she does her job! Not like others
Who Knows Flagler says
This is as silly as the rocks. There are signs all over the city that are in the right of way. There is realtor name Teri that keeps hanging signs on telephone poles on Palm Drive. Daily I see other signs for soffit repair, hungry roofers, etc that stay in the right away forever. These signs belong to a government office that is doing the taxpayers a service. There are often signs at the same location for car wash and a local business. Find something real to complain about.
Rick Belhumeur says
Consistent enforcement of our ordinances is the issue. You can’t tell someone yes and others no.
So it wasn’t enough that the city loudly sent a message by removing $8 signs, the tax collector steps it up a notch and installs a bigger sign that code enforcement couldn’t move. Trump that Johnston says. Good grief. Like posting it all over creation wasn’t enough. Respect the city’s wishes already.
this is news?…
Trailer Bob says
Funny, I thought it was very nice and caring to provide the info on where the new place was, otherwise I never would have known it existed, as there are no other signs telling us that it is there. Boy, I was in politics up in CT for years…and you folks down here are really petty, like little kids. Like one poster stated “stop wioth your own egos and work for the people who are paying your salaries.
bill harvey says
Frederick, u are right, petty garbage, grow up people. now I am convinced that the leaders of flagler beach are children running a very small municipality and think they are running a major governmental operation.
Crusty Old Salt says
Rick is right. What if a dozen or two business along A-1-A wanted to do the same thing? How would you tell them no? You have to be consistent in enforcement of city ordinances, regardless of who it is. Otherwise, the ambulance chasers will be all over the city coffers.
I have to agree with Rick, when I first saw the sign I was torn. While it definitely does a good job as far as informing the public where this office is located (i’m sure many didn’t realize it was there), it still seemed unfair to area businesses that would love to have the same exposure.
How many new or fledgling businesses would love to stick a “traffic-related reader board sign” out in front of a plaza to attract new customers? I’m guessing a lot of them.. Especially Hidden Treasures as they frequently pay a young person t stand on the corner holding and waving a sign. So a part of me felt that it sent a double pronged message.. It’s okay for the County/City to take any and all measures to attract customers to their new (probably underperforming) location, but businesses you can’t do the same.
And moving it back out of the City limits is pretty much still a snub to the City.. What should have happened is a little foresight should have gone into this and the FDOT public information signs should have been ordered and installed at the same time the office opened in Feb…
Double standard says
So the City of Flagler Beach wants to make a big deal about the tax collectors sign and claim it violates an ordinance but as soon as you drive over the bridge they have a similar flashing sign attached to a police car. So they can have signs but none else can? Also state road 100 is just that a STATE ROAD so DOT was the correct place to start in asking permission to place a sign along the road. That sign is helpful until the permanent ones are in place because if you miss the turn you have to make a u turn at Roberts road if you have car after car doing this the chances of an accident are increased (hint NO ONE wants that) and finally the revenue brought to the county by this office helps the entire county!! The fee for concealed weapons alone is a little over $20 and they serve residents from other counties and their fees stay here also. The commissioners need to grow up!
Concerned Resident says
Once again, shame on Flagler Beach officials. I can just picture them running into their emergency meeting. People on here talking about other businesses. This is NOT another business, it is a government office off a state highway. That office originally opened in 2005 by the state with DOT signs in place. Offices were taken over by county tax collectors a few years again and it closed. We are so lucky at the beach to have this service back. In some counties people have to drive more than 30 miles to a facility. How would you like that? Not to mention, people coming from out of the county for that service usually stop to eat in Flagler Beach bringing in business. A flashing sign for a few days……give me a break and get a life Fred. Spend your time panicking over AIA falling apart. Good for you Suzanne. If FB gives you any more trouble put the office in Mondex and let everyone take a country drive.