Jacksonville, FL (May 7, 2021)- Council Member Danny Becton filed Ordinance 2021-289 on Wednesday, May 5th to propose an alternative option to the previously filed Gas Tax Bill, Ordinance 2021-223, which was introduced to City Council on April 27th, citing the need for funding infrastructure improvements.
Instead of new taxes, Councilman Becton’s Bill proposes an alternative method for funding needed city infrastructure projects by paying for them with current City General Fund dollars and if necessary, allowing for borrowing. The bill offers the option for the City to borrow or finance up to $100 million. This includes $80,000,000 for new road construction, $10,000,000 for road resurfacing and $10,000,000 for new sidewalks and sidewalk repair.
Notably, this method of funding also allows for certain types of necessary infrastructure improvements that may not be permissible expenditures from the local option gas tax revenues such as new standalone sidewalks, sidewalk repairs and bicycle and pedestrian improvements if not associated with a roadway project.
It is widely acknowledged that the City has the funding capacity to authorize borrowing for both septic tank system improvements (as proposed in Ordinance 2021-100 also pending before Council) and infrastructure improvements, without an increase in the local option gas tax. Borrowing or bonding these needed projects is a viable option with low interest rate repayment options available.
If approved, Ordinance 2021-289 would be in addition to the annual budgetary appropriation that City Council approves for public works and infrastructure projects within these needs.
Councilman Becton said this would be a far more desirable option than the imposition of new and additional taxes for Jacksonville residents to pay.
“Since 2015, our tax revenue coming into our city has increased on average of $48 million dollars each year. As a result, our city budget has increased over $300 million dollars per year as our city continues to grow.” Council Member Becton said. “Our spending is about priorities and as it was confirmed by the administration that our General Fund has the capacity to pay for these added expenditures, I do not see a need to raise taxes citing, I do not see a revenue problem but only a spending problem.”
The bill has been filed to be heard on an expedited basis so that it can be discussed at the same time the Council considers Ordinance 2021-223, since Council Member Becton’s bill would provide for an alternate method to fund those infrastructure improvements without the City raising taxes.