Jacksonville, FL (October 25, 2018) – Councilman Becton wrapped up the month of October with his third and final annual District 11 update and after city budget Town Hall for the southern part of the District within the community of Nocatee.
Councilman Becton’s purpose of these town halls is to inform and update the resident of District 11 on the city’s new budget, current and upcoming projects, as well as the economic and growth management news revolving the district. He held two other meetings in the beginning of the month on October 8th, one for the Sweetwater community and Town Hall North, geared toward the northern area of his district.
Town Hall Nocatee was held at the Nocatee Welcome Center on October 25th and drew out an audience of 30 people, not including the number of city officials there, who Councilman Becton invited to speak and interact with Nocatee residents.
On the agenda to present and participate in the city public forum was Public Works Operations Director, Bill Joyce, Director, Neighborhoods Department, Stephanie Burch, Chief of Traffic Engineering, Chris LeDew, Chief Municipal Code Compliance, Brian Moiser, Director of Waste Pro Management, Will Williams, Director of Parks & Recreation & Community Services, Daryl Joseph, JFRD Chief of Fire & Rescue, Steven Riska and JSO’s Zone 3 Assistant Chief Jennifer. Short.
Councilman Becton began the town hall by discussing the most recent news regarding City Council and the city, the 2018-2019 Budget, totaling $1,209,498,411 (Billion) dollars.
“Property taxes of $674,796,752 million make up 56% of our budget”, CM Becton explained. “of the remainder, the State provides $177 million (15%), JEA contribution $117 million (10%) and other sources in the amount of $216 million (18%) are derived from places that include Franchise Fees, Utility Services Taxes and charges from services to name a few”.
“Jacksonville continues to benefit from property value increases in our neighborhoods and business communities” CM Becton explained. “While the City Council has not raised the millage rates in many years, including my four years on council, these property value increases have translated into higher tax bills for most residents”.
On the expense side of the budget, CM Becton explained, “$673 million (55%) is spent on JSO and Fire & Rescue budgets”. “This year while we have added more police officers in the past, this budget included 95 additional fire fighters for new and upcoming stations”, Becton noted.
The presentation continued by discussing transportation and project priority of CM Becton. The completion of past initiatives including the Sweetwater Parkway traffic light and the soon to be active traffic light at Blue Fin Drive we proud accomplishments. Updates on the Deerwood Parkway Bridge widening, improvements at interchanges for JTB / Gate Parkway and at San Pablo, along with improvement on Baymeadows Road were all were part of the update provided.
Also discussed with excitement was recently passed legislation 2018-459 for property set aside for the New Fire Station #63 for the Baymeadows East area. This bill while it approved the purchase and sell agreement for the land for the new station, now we are waiting on the city to close on the property. “It’s not closed yet,” explained CM Becton. “So, I don’t want to spike the football just yet,” CM Becton added. “But we are hoping to close on the property soon.”
Councilman Becton also discussed the anticipated third phase of the 9A/Baymeadows Park, whereby budget bill 2018-504 approved and partially funded the new amenity of a $4.5 million-dollar start-of-the-art future Baseball Quadraplex. The $2.25 million-dollar appropriation for 2018-2019 will provide for the planning and design of this new facility with the remaining $2.25 million-dollar appropriation planned for 2021-2022 budget that will ultimately begin construction.
Also, of note was the mention of bill 2018-089, which rename the park to “Fort Family Regional Park at Baymeadows” and the motivation behind its passage earlier this year. CM Becton and Perimeter Reality, the subsidiary of Fort Family Investments reached an agreement, for the payment to the city of $1 million dollars over the next ten years for these naming rights. It was the first contribution to the city of its kind and written into the legislation was the stipulation that these dollars where to only be used for capital improvements within the park itself. The sign is now installed within the park and Councilman Becton said a ribbon cutting for this renaming occasion will be announced in the near future.
Other news for which CM Becton provided, included economic news in District 11 which saw the opening of its first Wawa off Beach Blvd & Central Parkway, the grand opening of the LifeSouth Blood Drive Center in Deerwood Center and the recent announcement of a new Bentley Dealership coming to the JTB-I95 area.
“It says a lot about Jacksonville to be able to support such a business of Bentley Motors stature here in our city”, Becton stated. “To have this type of company see our city for this opportunity is impressive and exciting on so many levels along with the continued international presence which Jacksonville continues to employ.” “Jacksonville continues to be on the move and District 11 plays a big part in that,” CM Becton acknowledged.
CM Becton’s presentation also included information as previously provided by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Sara Peasants, who was not able to be present for this meeting but did present at the Town Hall North meeting on October 8th. Councilman Becton discussed FDOT’s current Express Lane project from I-295 from Butler Blvd to State Road 9B, which also are called managed lanes. These new lanes will be tolls lanes using the Florida Sun Pass System to supplement the free lanes that will also continue to be provided. CM Becton explained that the idea is to help manage the traffic in the free lanes, by providing a pay option in these express lanes, but only if you want to use them to offset the continued growth of commuters.
CM Becton showing the FDOT’s video of the I-295/9B express lanes and how they will work.
Also presenting for the event was Director of the Neighborhoods, Stephanie Burch, who prepared a presentation that broke down the different divisions of her department. One topic of interest was the department of Code Enforcement discussing what the department can and can’t cite. As an example, Burch said the city cannot cite someone for having a garbage can outside their house, but it can cite someone for having landscaping and shrubs that are too tall.
The number one CARE ticket through the city’s 630-CITY that the neighborhood department receives from District 11 concerns mosquitos and the request to spray.
A public Q&A forum followed the presentations. Many, if not all, concerns were addressed during this period since a majority of the city’s department heads were at the town hall to provide an answer. Many questions were geared toward William Williams with Waste Pro management and JSO Assistant Chief Short.