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Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Tax Hike Proponents Ask “What Kind of City Do We Want To Live In?”

One of the themes that emerged from the recent JCCI study on Jacksonville’s finances was the question that kept coming up:  What Kind Of City Do We Want To Live In?

The Mayor and his staff have continued to ask that question as they announced their plans to call for a 1.2 mill property tax increase to patch holes in next year’s city budget.  The same question will likely be asked as the Duval County School Board weighs a quarter-mill tax increase to fund reserves.  For some, the answer to the rhetorical question might be clear cut, but answers actually vary widely among Duval County residents.

“It’s not that I don’t believe we need more revenue,” a recent e-mail said, “I just still don’t have faith that our city government is spending the tax dollars I am already paying wisely.”

That e-mail, which arrived in response to an article that had mentioned the possibility of a tax increase specifically targeted to fund indigent care, was not an isolated response.  In e-mail and in-person conversations with countless Duval County residents, I have learned firsthand that there is an underlying distrust of how taxpayer dollars are being spent in this city.  Interestingly enough, the very same JCCI study that pointed out the flaws in the city’s current revenue structure spoke to the same issue—the taxpayers of Duval County remain suspicious of their local government.

As the Mayor moves to make his case to Duval County residents, he will have to prepare himself to make a case to many people who fundamentally disagree with his vision of Jacksonville. A review of public responses on the Times-Union message boards show that even the scenario described by the Mayor, where libraries are closed and fire stations are shuttered, failed to move some Jacksonville residents.

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Libraries, according to more than one message board poster, are something we can live without.  In fact, more than one respondent was fine with cutting services out altogether.  In fact, he was even willing to forgo garbage collection.

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One of the common themes from all opponents of tax increases; however, is that many feel social services should be cut out altogether.

Picture 3All of these complaints point to a harsh reality the Mayor will have to face as he prepares to make his case before the City Council—most of whom will be facing an avalanche of e-mails and phone calls expressing opposition to the Mayor’s plans—Jacksonville has not yet decided what kind of city it does want to be.

It is time we have a serious discussion about the type of city we want to live in.  Hopefully, we will all approach the conversation with a willingness to listen and learn.

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Filed under: Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, Mayor of Jacksonville

6 Responses - Comments are closed.

  1. Seamore Jane says:

    What kind of city do I want to live in? One without John Peyton.

  2. Geneo says:

    What is wrong with bringing in Casinos in one location. It would employ hundreds and millions in Revenue. Have an entrainment center located at Cecil Field. The little used airfield would allow private planes use it. There would be room for thousands of parking.
    Hotels would be built. Think of the local business products being used that would create additional taxes and revenue. Why is South Florida always rewarded with the money making casinos. One entertainment center would have the JSO and the Fire Department to easy handle problems that may arise in one area. This would free the residents of this City from ever rising taxes which is just begging with the end in sight with State and Federal energy taxes of over 4 trillion coming.

  3. Ronnie says:

    Unfortunately, there are enough yahoo’s in Jax who really don’t care about the City or anyone else in it. They’d be just fine with seeing social services eliminated and the streets flooded with homeless. Of course, they would then demand that JSO haul the homeless away.

  4. Miss Snippy says:

    The entire situation is problematic.

    Question 1: “what kind of city does Jacksonville want to be?”
    This is not only age old, but one that may never be answered. There is a seemingly endless supply of “interests” all attempting to Out-Fund and Out-Fight each other.

    Question 2: how long can any community (of ANY size) continue without some measure of civility – regard for others?

    WRT to the TU postings – alarming unless bitterly satirical and if that, I don’t know what to say.

    How extreme must this town’s brand of Darwinism become?

    So much disagreement/rarely little agreement (economic acrimony) could mean Jacksonville eventually dissipates.

    No one gets one damn thing.
    All gone all gone.

  5. Seamore Jane says:

    That’s the thing. I want to live here — I chose to live here. I like my life, here. What I do not like is taking a laid back town that is inexpensive to live in and making it expensive and complex. Jacksonburg aint perfect, but it has a hell of alot going for it. If you want to live in Atlanta, move there. Stop trying to muck this town up..

  6. Jim says:

    I just don’t buy the concept that fire stations and libraries are the first thing a city needs to cut in a budget crunch. The Mayor needs to do a better job explaining what the city is going to do in addition to raising taxes.

    The biggest contribution to this budget crunch is the fact that property values declined thus tax revenue declined. Why doesn’t the city have a rainy day fund to get through times like this without having to raise taxes?

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