By Joe Crews
For Hometown News
Roy Johnson wants to finish what he started, so he's running for a second two-year term as mayor of Holly Hill.
"I promised to try to straighten out Holly Hill and run it like a business and bring in more businesses and revenue," Mr. Johnson said in a recent interview. "It's doing pretty good."
He's proud the city has become more business-friendly, resulting in more than 30 new businesses and keeping others from leaving.
Among the improvements the city has made in his first term are replacing underground utility pipes "that were crumbling;" getting lower interest rates on water and sewer loans to save tax payers $1.25 million; negotiating lower interest rates on Community Redevelopment Area funds from 4.74 percent to 2.04 percent, saving the city more than $867,000; and obtaining federal funding to replace the Daytona Avenue bridge, saving the city $800,000 in construction costs.
He believes Holly Hill has a better reputation these days because of its economic growth and upgrades to its infrastructure. But Mr. Johnson said there is still more to be done, especially when it comes to the city's property taxes.
"We still have a higher tax rate that we need to bring down, but it's going to take a while," said Mr. Johnson, who owns residential and commercial properties in town..
Before he was elected mayor in 2010, Mr. Johnson served on the Civil Service Board for five years, and was elected chairman soon after being appointed to that board.
A widower since 2004 after 44 years of marriage, the 72-year-old Air Force veteran still works three jobs (including chief executive and chief financial officer of his business, Aerial Hydraulics Inc., a company he started 40 years ago). Mr. Johnson has two adult sons and a daughter, two grandsons and two great-grandsons.
He said the biggest issue facing Holly Hill is the same one every other place is facing: a lack of jobs.
"I think that's the worst problem we have right now," he said. "I would do anything I could to bring in more businesses."
If that happens, he said, it would help the city generate more income from residents and businesses alike.
His goals are to make residents proud to call Holly Hill home and to leave a strong foundation for the next generation to build on. And he's hopeful about the future.
"Everything is going to straighten out," Mr. Johnson said. "It's just going to take time for businesses to recover."