by: Samuel King Updated:JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —
Leaders have said that the money will be found to fund JAXPORT dredging, but Action News found out a key funding source may not a sure thing.
Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., told Action News money from the little-known harbor maintenance tax could be used to help fund the project.
"What is that? When the ships come in, we tax them," Brown said.
But Action News obtained a report from congressional researchers that calls the current process into question. It states millions from the tax are used to fund projects at ports that aren’t as busy as Jacksonville’s port.
Another common complaint: A lot of the money isn't even spent on ports. It goes back to the treasury.
Action News found out while the new Water Resources Reform and Development Act calls for all of the port tax revenue to be spent on port projects, that requirement doesn’t start until 2025.
It leaves Congress to decide each year how that money is spent.
"We have billions of dollars sitting there. I'm not as worried. I'm not worried at all. Because we have identified the funding source," Brown said.
Lawmakers from Washington state want to toss the tax altogether and start over. They say the tax is driving money and jobs to Mexico and Canada while not helping the ports in the U.S. that need it. They want a new way to fund port projects.
Those bills are still stuck in committee while the new water act was signed into law earlier this month. A JAXPORT spokesperson told Action News the agency welcomes any attempt to get ports the full funding they deserve.