Jacksonville's Future Needs Your Support

March 11, 2013 27 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Where will you be on Monday, March 11, 2013 at 4:00pm when the Jacksonville City Council discussions placing a three year moratorium on the mobility fee to subsidize new development at your expense? If you're a struggling taxpayer who's had enough, City Hall will be a great place to visit. We don't claim to be Miss Cleo, but we have a feeling those who desire to increase their profit margins at your expense will be out the support the paid lobbyist that have been working behind closed doors on their behalf.

From Metro Jacksonville's Inbox

From: Chris Hagan [mailto:CHagan@NEFBA.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 07, 2013 4:54 PM
To: Chris Hagan
Cc: Jamie Atkins
Subject: Governmental Affairs Alert
Importance: High
We need your support!!
We are making the final push to wave development fees in the City of Jacksonville and create thousands of jobs in the construction industry.
The Mobility Waiver Bill was slated to be heard Monday and Tuesday of this week by the Rules, the Finance and the Transportation, Energy and Utilities committees.  Rule Chairman Clay Yarborough deferred the bill to be heard in a joint meeting on Monday, March 11, at 4 PM, in the Council Chambers.
It is very important we have a strong  turnout for this meeting.  This bill will only be heard one time before being voted on by the full council.
The details to the meeting are listed below.
City Council Joint Rules, Finance & TEU Committee Meeting

Date: March 11, 2013

Time: 4:00 p.m.

Location: City Hall, 117 W. Duval St., 1st Floor Council Chamber

Please pass this information onto all your friends of the construction industry.  Our industry is depending on us to pass this bill.  Thank you
Chris Hagan
Government Affairs Director
Northeast Florida Builders Association
103 Century 21 Drive, Suite 100
Jacksonville, FL 32216

What You Need To Know About The Mobility Fee Moratorium Debate

The last few years have been very rough on our community. Most of us reside in homes that are underwater as deep as the Titantic. Many of us have lost jobs and have been forced to change professions, just to keep the lights operating and food on the table. Like Mr. Hagan and NEFBA, we all would like to see job growth, not just in one industry, but for all trades, professions, industries, and neighborhoods across Jacksonville. Just not in the form of a policy that attempts to steer subsidies to one segment of our population at the expense of the majority with no checks and balances to prove that actual local jobs are being created as a result.  

Furthermore, as indicated by the ongoing JAX 2025 visioning efforts, many of us desire to be a community that finds a way to invest itself and make its streets safe for all. In addition, we'd love to see our vacant strip malls, older neighborhoods and downtown come back the way they have done in countless cities across the country.  

With this in mind, we're following Mr. Hagan's advice and sending it to all our neighbors across the city instead of a single industry.  In addition, here are a few concerns behind the reason we believe a three year moratorium is a risk not worth taking with taxpayer dollars and trust.

Pro moratorium spreadsheet presented to the Downtown Investment Authority and Jacksonville City Council indicating $82 million in job cost spurred by $3.1 million worth of waived mobility fees.

Proponents have presented the idea that $82 million in job costs were spurred by allowing $3.1 million in mobility fee waivers during last year's moratorium.  They also suggest that since the moratorium ended, only two projects have moved forward, indicating growth is slowing as a result. However, upon closer observation, you'll discover these numbers have more holes in them than a box of Swiss Cheese.  To make points easier to see, we've gone through the effort of color coding them for you:

1. Highlighted in green, 40% of the projects on this spreadsheet never had mobility fees.  Why are they included as a part of a list made to suggest that they would not have occurred if there were not a moratorium?

2. Highlighted in red are projects by rapidly expanding chains, based outside of Jacksonville, such as 7-Eleven, Family Dollar, Dollar General, and Waffle House.  These are companies that were expanding before the moratorium and have continued to expand after it, suggesting during the moratorium, we've subsidized low wage jobs that would have happened any way.  In the case of 7-Eleven, 36% of mobility fees waived from last year's moratorium went to this company, which enjoyed 77 billion in sales last year. This same company announced prior to last year's moratorium that they would be adding 80 stores in our area by 2015.  Considering they'll add at least 20 more this year, Jacksonville's taxpayers stand to lose tens of millions to this company alone, if a three year moratorium with no checks and balances is approved.

3. Highlighted in blue, proponents claim that only two projects have moved forward after last year's moratorium. Because of this, they believe this indicates why another moratorium is needed.  However, an official permit list from the City of Jacksonville shows 16 more projects that have been mysteriously excluded from their list. Why aren't they included?  Perhaps it's because what statistical data and research on impact fee moratoriums indicates across the state. That there is simply no correlation between the market, job growth, construction activity, and impact fees.

As illustrated by Mr. Hagan's email, the proposed moratorium is largely supported by developers and builders. However, because of the financial risk to taxpayers, it's opposed by bicycle/pedestrian associations, Citizen Planning Advisory Committees, health organizations, transportation advocacy organizations and merchants associations. A recent poll conducted by the Jacksonville Business Journal showed that, out of 500 respondents, 82 percent were opposed to the moratorium. Our color coding of the spreadsheet perched in City Hall, illustrates our concern of the financial danger Jacksonville's residents could find themselves in.

Regardless of how one may feel about the 2030 Mobility Plan, the purpose of the Mobility Fee and the roadway, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian projects it funds, Council's final decision should be made in favor of the taxpayer's fiscal protection.

This is a debate between David and Goliath but at some point, residents have to stand up for ourselves if we ever want our city to get to the next level we all dream about.

I'll be at City Hall, will you?

Editorial by Ennis Davis. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com