City Council hesitant to borrow money for mayor's proposed projects

by: Catherine Varnum Updated:

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - City Council members say borrowing more money to do proposed projects isn't the right idea. 

Randy Keener co owns a tattoo shop in the heart of downtown, right across from the old courthouse. That building is one of several projects in Mayor Alvin Brown’s proposed budget. 

"It's an eyesore," said Keener. 

The mayor has a long list of capital improvement projects he wants to do, from getting rid of the old courthouse, to improvements at the Jacksonville Landing, to fewer one way streets. But all the proposed projects are costly. 

"That's a lot of money," said Council President Clay Yarborough. 

Yarborough said the mayor wants to borrow the $187 million to do the projects, creating more debt. 

"Yes we may not be cutting more in certain areas but that means content to pay debt service for years and years to come," said Yarborough. 

The mayor’s spokesman told Action News that the $187 million figure is the city's credit limit, and that much would only be borrowed if all the projects were started in the next fiscal year and finished in one year. He said that won't happen. 

But while some council members still expressed concern to us, taxpayers we spoke with seemed on board with borrowing money. One business owner just hopes however much is spent is spent wisely. 

"If you put money in, you get money out," said Keener 

The City Council has to approve the budget by the end of September.