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City Council passes budget with tax rate hike

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Updated: 9/26/2013 9:20 am
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- After two days of heated debate, the Jacksonville City Council has passed a budget that includes at 14% property tax rate hike.

In real dollar terms, the millage rate increase amounts to an extra $70 per year on a home with a value of $100,000.

Council president Bill Gulliford commended council members for recognizing the importance of backing a potentially unpopular decision to raise taxes in order to retain essential city services.

"Mines going to go up about $500. Do I like that? Not a bit," said Gulliford. "I can think of other things including grandkids of rather spend that $500 on but sitting up there from that perspective, I fully understand why I'm going to have to pay that higher amount of money."

Two council members voted against the budget, Don Redman and Matt Schellenberg.

Action News spoke with Schellenberg after the vote.

"First of all, the mayor put us in this position and we only had six weeks to deal with it," said Schellenberg. "And during that six week period I tried to lower the cost to the citizens. It didn't work out and that's why I'm disappointed. That's why I voted against it."

The new tax rate was decided after council members hammered out details during more than 17 hours of debate on some 40 amendments to the budget.

Funding for the St. Johns River Ferry was expected to be a big talker Wednesday night. Councilman Stephen Joost proposed transferring about $449,000 from the ferry to Parks and Recreation for park maintenance.

"They say the ferry is good for tourism but ridership is down 15%," said Joost. "614 vehicles per day use the ferry, by their numbers, now that is hardly a critical artery for the state of Florida."

A handful of ferry supporters spoke out on the amendment during the first public comment period Tuesday night.

Just a few hours after Joost made comments questioning the ferry's worthiness of tax dollars, he withdrew the amendment. It came as a tearful relief for ferry supporters in the crowd.

"It was crazy," said Elaine Brown, who serves on the ferry commission. "Just thrilled, really thrilled."

Council approved spending $1 million on right-of-way cleanup and mowing across Jacksonville, but $181,000 for Meals on Wheels was voted down.

The Jacksonville Children's Commission received $630,000 for Early Learning Center Coaching and Development. The funding restores six positions within the commission.

Council also approved spending $200,000 for maintenance at Hemming Plaza.

Mayor Alvin Brown has the ability to veto specific spending items, but he can't veto the overall budget passed by council members or the tax increase. His staff sent Action News this statement Wednesday evening:

“The Mayor respects the hard work of the City Council and City staff on the budget. Mayor Brown will carefully review the Council-approved budget to determine whether he will use his line-item veto authority. As always, the Mayor’s goals are to protect hard working taxpayers and promote the most efficient and effective delivery of services to residents and businesses.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

1country - 9/26/2013 4:09 PM
0 Votes
my math is not what it was 50 years ago, but if I'm right, gulliford would have to have about a 750,000.00 home ?? POOR BABY !!! My wife and I are in our 70's and on a fixed income.We have to borrow money to pay taxes as it is.Guess we just bought a new big screen for Kahn !!!

FlSunRise87 - 9/26/2013 12:38 PM
0 Votes
I already have trouble collecting the full rent amount from my rental properties, now with taxes going up rent will be going up meaning property owners such as myself are stuck dragging tenants to eviction court, please everyone who actually practices their voting rights remember these guys next election!

concernedone20 - 9/26/2013 10:07 AM
1 Vote
Remember them in the upcoming elections!

Old Dog - 9/26/2013 8:31 AM
0 Votes
Why do these socialists seem to only pick on homeowners, a property tax increase is in truth a form of punishment for those of us who own a home. Why should property taxes be raised when property values have suffered such a constant decline. Truth is the only fair way to raise taxes to pay for all the government waste and fund city services then a sales tax increase is the only fair way, since it spreads to burden of increased taxes to all of those who utilize the services the city provides, not just us homeowners. If they want to punish us homeowners, then we should be the only ones who qualify to receive any and all city services, all of the others should be forced to fend for themselves. I agree with others posting on this story, anyone who voted for a property tax increase should be voted out of office as soon as possible. Unless those of us who have been wronged can obtain enough signatures to have a recall vote to get them out of office sooner. I am sick and tired of the socialist agenda which plagues government these days, where the taxes of the few go to support those who are here illegally, a/k/a all criminals, those who are too lazy to get a job and especially the gutter trash who breed children that they have no way of supporting. For those of you too blind to see their agenda, let me spell it out for you, the socialist agenda is to make home ownership too expensive for the poor and middle class, that way only the rich will own and control all of the property in this country and the rest of us will be at their mercy.

RFM2009 - 9/26/2013 6:37 AM
1 Vote

Papakilo - 9/25/2013 6:25 PM
3 Votes
I will not vote for any member who supports a tax increase. The CITY NEEDS to CUT it's FAT as well as the MAYOR's projects. I think all Jacksonville appointed and elected positions are over paid. Stop picking on city maintenance and safety personnel, start by taking a 20% cut in administration personnel pay and benefits. I am sick of threats by the mayor and city council to cut personnel under the administration level. Let's see REAL fat and waste cut at the administration level.
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