‘Today is a historic day’ Jacksonville City Council approves gas tax increase 14-5

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Today is a historic day”

It’s official.

January 1, 2022, Jacksonville’s gas tax will increase from 6 cents to 12 cents per gallon.

Jacksonville City Council voted to approve the Local Option Gas Tax 14 to 5.

A number of amendments were also discussed during today’s special city council meeting. One that stuck out is the creation of a dashboard that will allow tax payers, like you and me, to track previous, current, and future projects timeline, priorities and costs.

Action News Jax Courtney Cole spoke to city leadership about how this will help Jacksonville, when it comes to investing and improving communities throughout the city.

“Today is a historic day for our ability to invest in much-needed infrastructure in our city. I’m grateful for the partnership with Nat Ford, Jacksonville Transportation Authority, and his team. I appreciate him bringing this idea to us, and now getting it to a council vote and turning this into reality,” said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

“It’s a very exciting time. We’re living in a very transformative time as a relates to transportation.

We have the greenlight to develop what is one of the most innovative projects in the nation and so we’re very excited about today,” said Nat Ford, the CEO of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority.

$132M of the money from the gas tax will go toward The Emerald Trail, while about $247M will be for JTA  transportation projects, including the Skyway.

Although the real work is now just beginning, everyone anxiously wants to know when these big projects will be completed.

During today’s special city council meeting, Ford gave a rough timeline:

  • Phase one on Bay Street is expected to be done in the next 2-3 years.
  • It could be as long as 6-7 years before the Skyway is up-and-running.

Cole spoke to Kay Ehas, the CEO of Groundwork Jacksonville, after the meeting. Groundwork Jacksonville is the organization working with the City to bring The Emerald Trail to life. Ehas told her they’re planning to have it completed in the next 5-8 years.

Shortly after the Local Option Gas was passed, Mayor Curry and Mr. Ford answered a few questions and shared their excitement about the progress this gas tax will allow.

One of the things Ford pointed out was the number of jobs their transit projects will create in Jacksonville.

“The actual U2C (Ultimate Urban Circulator) project, represented about half of the 7,640 jobs of this program. We also expect a great deal of companies to come to support our project. So there’s going to be indirect jobs and opportunities that are created and then we’re setting up a tech academy within the JTA to specifically look at partnering with DCPS and different companies and different community organizations that are helping to develop children,” Ford explained.

Mayor Curry says it will also help make good on a promise first made during consolidation: septic tank removal.

“It’s a heavy lift…and I think what happened, historically, city leaders have looked at it and said it’s just too big of an apple to take a bite out of it. With this now, I’m suggesting that we make a real commitment to beginning septic tank removal,” Curry said.

The 5 Jacksonville City Councilmembers who were against the proposed gas tax include: Danny Becton, LeAnna Cumber, Randy DeFoor, Rory Diamond and Al Ferraro.

They believe there are other ways to get the countywide projects done without asking tax payers for more money.

Councilman Kevin Carrico, of District 4, said he didn’t agree with the tax, but says he voted it for it for the greater good.

“So I vote ‘yes’ today— and it’s not because of supporting raising the gas tax for the Emerald Trail. I love the Emerald Trail projects, I’m in favor that, but I don’t think it’s worth raising taxes on. The Skyway, great idea, great innovation for city, full confidence in JTA, Mr. Ford, but I’m not voting to raise taxes for the Skyway. I’m voting to raise taxes because it will support my constituents, District 4, basic needs that I’ve been ignored for a long time as well. Looking forward to getting these projects done,” Carrico said.

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