Public Information Officer
County Activities During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Nassau County, Florida, April 22, 2020 - As you know, Government offices have been closed to the public since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although we can’t serve you in person, we are still here to serve you in other ways. In fact, all of our departments remain very busy with their normal activities. Some have even found time to tackle important projects such as cataloging, scanning in paper files, and updating policies.
Below is information on activities that have been taking place for each Constitutional Office.
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONER DEPARTMENTS
Administrative Staff and Shelter Attendants have been scheduled so we can limit the amount of exposure to the employees. Administrative personnel work each day answering the phones, logging complaints, and coordinating veterinary visits. They are also working hard to find foster homes for the animals at the facility. They currently have 81 dogs in foster homes. Shelter Attendants have been divided into shifts to clean up after the animals, feed and medicate them, take them on walks and to medical appointments.
Animal Control Officers continue to work normal schedules since they spend a majority of the day in a truck by themselves. They respond to a variety of calls including bite cases, aggressive animals and calls from the Sheriff’s Office. There have been 120 of these type calls since mid-March.
Though they have a reduced staff, they remain very busy! In the last 30 days, they have performed an abundance of activities including:
- 441 new permits issued
- Accepted 785 new permit applications
- 197 plan reviews performed
- 3,158 field inspections performed
- Responded to 75 public records requests
Currently, Code Enforcement is not doing on-site inspections unless there is a safety issue. They are still responding to complaints and following-up on existing complaints. Since mid-March, they have received 87 complaints, 24 of which are still active.
County Attorney/County Manager:
Though the number of administrative staff has been reduced, these departments continue to do their day-to-day activities including answering phones, coordinating meetings, preparing meeting agendas, fulfilling public records requests, responding to inquiries from the public and the press, providing legal advice to the Board, drafting Ordinances, and managing the department heads that report to the County Manager. During a declared emergency, the Emergency Management Director reports to the County Manager. The office holds phone conferences numerous times per day with the Health Director and Emergency Management Director to discuss issues related to COVID-19 including directives from the Governor, COVID-19 testing, beach closures, and more.
County Extension Office:
The Extension Office continues to diagnose plant and insect issues through photos, emails and phone calls. They have continued their meetings and trainings virtually to keep volunteers involved and to provide advanced training.
Engineering has continued to perform all duties assigned to the department including but not limited to:
- Execution and oversight of 9 Capital Projects currently underway
- Traffic signal service and maintenance
- Issuing of 44 driveway permits since mid-March
- Construction inspection services for a variety of commercial development projects Issuing permits and inspecting borrow pits. A total of 7 new permits have been issued since mid-March.
- Stormwater and drainage projects
- Development Review of fourteen (14) new projects
With the closing of beach parking lots and community centers, Facilities Maintenance has been able to complete numerous facility improvements including deep cleaning and painting of all community centers, lighting upgrades, and waxing all floors. The parking lots at Burney Park and Peters Point have been completely restriped and the lighting has been upgraded. Staff is also aerating and spraying turf as needed on the multi-purpose fields to give them much needed care during the break from organized youth sports.
The Fire Rescue Department remains ready and able to respond to 911 calls, including COVID-19 calls. Routine fire inspections have been temporarily suspended in an effort to reduce exposure, however the inspectors continue to assist with building department inspections. They are also assisting with delivery of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all the fire stations. Administrative staff has been reduced however they continue to process invoices, payroll, and prepare the upcoming budget.
HR is working with a reduced staff, however they remain busy creating COVID-19 policies and tracking hours dedicated to COVID-19 activities to submit to FEMA for reimbursement when the time comes. They continue to handle employee issues and workers compensation claims, process insurance payments, updating job descriptions, and assisting employees with FMLA matters.
I.T. has been implementing strategies to accommodate remote meetings, setting up equipment for remote users, cleaning shared equipment and printing badges for essential personnel. This is in addition to regular department duties such as monitoring the County’s computer system, backup servers, and assisting employees with I.T. related issues.
Library staff has implemented a new way to issue library cards electronically so residents can take advantage of e-books, audio books, and more. They are cataloging and processing new library materials, clearing out damaged items, shifting collections to make room for new items, creating new spaces for summer programs, and more! The library has also created a new e-Newsletter to keep residents informed about available services during the pandemic.
Nassau Amelia Utilities:
Employees have been broken into shifts to reduce exposure, however the department continues to function as normal. Since mid-March, they have completed 3,500+ meter readings, 118 service calls and 23 meter replacements. They are also working on several big projects including clarifier rehabilitation, replacement of 4 lift stations, and rehabilitation of two additional lift stations.
Office of Management & Budget:
OMB is in the early stages of developing the FY 20/21 budget, despite the challenges of not being able to hold in-person meetings with the departments. They continue to process invoices while monitoring emergency spending related to COVID-19, assisting the Emergency Operations Center as needed, and working with the Information Technology Department on implementation of remote meetings. They also waived late fees and utility cut-offs for Nassau Amelia Utility customers unable to pay their bill on time.
Planning & Economic Opportunity:
Though they are not currently accepting applications for projects requiring a quasi or non-quasi public hearings, they have many projects and items to review including but not limited to: zoning certifications, lot split applications, final development plans, planned unit development applications, rezoning applications, site plans, and landscape review, just to name a few. They are also working on several large regulatory updates including plan review procedure updates, tree ordinance revisions, and roadway and drainage standards updates.
The Road Department has moved to a seven-day work schedule to minimize the number of employees working together at one time. They continue to respond to safety issues such as pothole maintenance and downed trees. This is in addition to their regular duties including cleaning culverts, roadway striping, and driveway repairs. However, their biggest focus has been catching up on mowing throughout the County.
The Solid Waste continues to operate as normal, however they are doing their best to maintain social distancing from individuals bringing items to the recycle and convenience center. All other recycling sites are being maintained as usual.
OTHER CONSTITUTIONAL OFFICES:
Though their lobby is closed, they are working as normal either in the office or remotely. Employees are still working at producing the tax roll in accordance with Florida Statutes. They are also actively re-appraising every parcel in the county and processing thousands of exemption applications.
The Sheriff’s Office continues to operate as normal, 24 hours per day/7 days per week. Daily activities include monitoring roadways, assisting in traffic accidents, using the marine unit to patrol and monitor activity on the water, and fulfilling public records requests. Detectives are actively looking for individuals who may be committing crimes of opportunity, so they have increased patrol to neighborhoods and businesses that have been temporarily closed.
SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS
The SOE Office is busying processing judicial candidate qualifying papers, updating election timelines for primary and general elections, holding online training for election workers and having preventative maintenance done on voting equipment. Since late March, they have also processed:
- 1,560 records from the National Change of Address data
- 3,350 candidate petitions
- 219 voter registration applications
- 150 vote by mail ballot requests
CLERK OF COURTS
Although the courthouses are closed to most public traffic, they are still operating to serve the citizens of Nassau County. Citizens are using e-filing and e-recording systems and employees are processing those filings daily, in addition to online and phone payments for fines, fees and other citations.
Due to statewide and local suspensions of some court proceedings, staff has been busy rescheduling court cases and notifying defendant and attorneys of those changes. Staff members are also in the Chambers with the Judges for court appearances being done through ZOOM (virtual).
The Clerk’s Office has made special arrangements to process Notice of Commencements in order to keep the local economy stimulated and have kept the civil department open for essential matters including domestic violence injunction and child support functions.
TAX COLLECTOR’S OFFICE
Though lobbies are closed to the public, staff is available to assist by phone. They are continuing their regular services which includes processing of tax bill payments and issuing of driver licenses. The Governor has extended the expiration date of identification cards and driver licenses because new photographs must be taken. They are hoping to reopen the first week of May (pending orders from the Governor).