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City still has no plan to pay for EverBank Field improvements

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Updated: 9/03/2013 9:26 am
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville is still tackling how to pay for millions of dollars in promised improvements at EverBank Field at a time when council members are debating how to fill a massive $60 million hole in the city's budget.

The Jaguars and the city of Jacksonville announced in June the details behind $63 million in facility improvements at EverBank Field. Changes include state-of-the-art video scoreboards. Both screens will measure 300 feet wide and 55 feet tall.

Shad Khan and the Jaguars committed more than $20 million to the project. The city's share of the bill comes in at $43 million.

Mayor Alvin Brown did not include funding for any of the EverBank Field improvements in his budget.

Members of the city finance committee heard from representatives of Brown's office Friday about how the city plans to pay for the project. It’s a big task as they grapple with how to balance a city budget that is about $60 million in the red.

Council members delayed making any concrete decisions.

City spokesman Dave DeCamp tells Action News the mayor's team is working through the details.

"We're working hard to limit any taxpayer exposure on this from the general fund and we have to work out an agreement with the team in the form of a lease agreement," said DeCamp.

Council members say the details have been few and far between, two months after the announcement was made.

"Whether or not it would be an obligation on the general fund, which is paid for by tax dollars, or if it's going to add to the debt load of the city," said City Councilman Clay Yarborough. "$43 million is a lot of money. So we should not just approve that without having sufficient detail to consider."

Plans to pay for palm trees, pools and the world's largest scoreboards at EverBank may land within the capital improvement plan.

That plan also funds things like park maintenance and road resurfacing projects.

Another popular option discussed, according to City Councilman Robin Lumb, is lobbying the state legislature to allow Jacksonville to capture more taxes generated from revenue within the stadium.
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