JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's a dirty job that would clean out the wallets of some downtown business owners. Mayor Alvin Brown campaigned on expanding shops and restaurants in the city's core but that's not the message councilman Bill Gulliford is getting from the Mayor.
"You got a contradictory situation because the mayor has been a big proponent of downtown development and you sure don't want to force businesses, especially small businesses out of downtown by the fee increases," said Gulliford.
Burrito Gallery owner Paul Shockey told Action News new fees would significantly hurt his budget's bottom line. Right now, Shockey is one of about 125 commercial business owners who shell out around $400 a year for trash service. But that will skyrocket October 1 if the mayor's plan is passed.
The city would charge for each trash can. The Burrito Gallery keeps four trash cans on the curb. With a monthly fee of $46.70 each, that's going to cost $2,241 a year.
"We don't mind paying a little more but now we're paying more for less," said Shockey.
The mayor's original plan was to scrap the service completely. City spokesperson Dave Decamp said, "After Downtown business owners expressed concern about the initial elimination of City Downtown garbage pick-up, the administration met with them to address this issue, a meeting assisted by Downtown Vision Inc. As the Times-Union has reported, the business owners at that meeting “resoundingly wanted” to keep the service near the current level. They asked the city to charge a higher fee in order to avoid losing city garbage collection. We agreed to their request.
The proposed fees would cost Shockey six times as much as he pays now. The owner of the downtown staple says City Council needs to dump the fee hikes.
"We've always said that we want to do our part but I'm sure something like that is not going to entice businesses to come in and set up shop," said Shockey.