Author Topic: Mayor Curry created a 'super' budget in event of JEA sell  (Read 3353 times)

thelakelander

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Mayor Curry created a 'super' budget in event of JEA sell
« on: January 29, 2021, 10:19:22 PM »
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The super budget included massive amounts of money for long-planned and sought-after projects and priorities: $2 billion for a septic tank removal program; more than $1 billion in drainage improvements; $200 million to divide up among the mayor and all 19 City Council members as "discretionary" funding; $250 million for the redevelopment of UF Health's campus, $500 million for resiliency and hardening projects; more than $120 million for pedestrian, bike and sidewalk improvements; almost $70 million for the development of the Emerald Trail, a series of planned parks, trails and other public amenities that encircle downtown; and millions more for road projects across the city.

The document is sometimes vague on what, exactly, would have gotten money: There is almost $280 million for "public facilities improvements," for example. The budget also far exceeds the likely proceeds the city stood to receive from even the highest bidder — a sobering reminder how many needs there are across Jacksonville.

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/columns/nate-monroe/2021/01/29/jacksonville-super-budget-might-have-directed-jea-sale-proceeds/4308390001/
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Ken_FSU

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Re: Mayor Curry created a 'super' budget in event of JEA sell
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2021, 01:00:34 AM »
Great scoop by Nate Monroe.

This is the infamous “Shadow CIP” that has been rumored for the last couple of years.

Crazy that they were dumb/arrogant enough to actually leave a paper trail.

Have said if before and I’ll say it again:

A case *could* have been made for selling JEA in return for significant quality of life improvements for Jacksonville. The money could have gone a long way toward fulfilling the promises of consolidation, upgrading the stadium/keeping the Jags, building the Emerald Trail, paying down our debt, developing the riverfront, etc.

Not sure if the public would have voted yes, but it’s a shame that Curry and Co. effectively poisoned the well on any discussions about the pros and cons of a potential JEA sale.


marcuscnelson

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Re: Mayor Curry created a 'super' budget in event of JEA sell
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2021, 01:12:55 AM »
First off, I'll point out the same thing I said about this on Twitter:

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Hot take:

It’s good to plan out big projects for the near future, esp. now with a project-friendly admin in DC. The problem remains the secret attempt to sell out JEA from under taxpayers in order to fund it.

I’d like to see a long-term super budget, and just debate funding it.

Pointing out what exactly the needs are and having the chance to sit down as a city and think about how to get it all paid for is actually a really good idea. Not to mention that the JEA effort might have had better odds if they'd started from the perspective of "we have these things we need, what can we do to make it happen" instead of "we need to sell JEA, let's come up with reasons to justify it to taxpayers".

$3.5 billion for septic tanks, drainage, and resiliency is certainly no laughing matter, but having the opportunity to at least discuss that this amount is what's needed provides the chance to look at what other pathways are out there to make it happen. The concept of the city substantially funding the Emerald Trail is nice to see, and I don't see why that can't still happen.

I am a bit more curious about some of these other items. I wasn't aware that UF Health needed redeveloping. It's questionable if the Mayor and City Council really need a $200m slush fund. That "public facilities improvements" is definitely strange. I seriously doubt we need to be building a bunch more roads without a plan to maintain them right now. Not to mention that odds are that budget was going to be spreading the love to whatever political donors and buddies Curry could get a room with.

So yeah, a super budget isn't a bad idea, but 1. I don't trust this administration to honestly, transparently, and competently put one together and 2. there needs to be a conversation about all the options that might exist to fund these projects over time.
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jaxlongtimer

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Re: Mayor Curry created a 'super' budget in event of JEA sell
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2021, 11:14:36 AM »
Just like the big budget bond issues for the Renaissance and Better Jax rounds, they put some worthwhile projects in these lists to cover the big dollars that will go to projects benefiting special interests.  I would be more impressed if the public participated in what makes this list than to be served a ready made one by the Mayor and his friends.

That said, one must wonder what a small increase (even just 1% to 5%) in the property tax rate would do to fund these projects via additional bonds.  With record low interest rates, a few more dollars to service debt will go further than ever.  By example, with a 2% interest rate on tax free bonds, for every $1 million more in tax revenue, they could bond almost $50 million.  It wouldn't take long to support a bond issue for hundreds of millions or even a billion plus dollars to kick things off.  The City will be kicking itself one day for not taking advantage of locking in today's low interest rates.

marcuscnelson

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Re: Mayor Curry created a 'super' budget in event of JEA sell
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2021, 06:45:40 PM »
Some interesting tidbits from Nate Monroe's latest column:

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As a planning document, it's notable not just for its massive size — $8 billion in projects — but also for how random some of it seemed. There was $2 billion for septic tanks, which is understandable, but then there were some head-scratchers. He proposed more than $390 million for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (this would have been on top of the department's annual budget), but only $111 million for parks — in a city that boasts the largest parks system in the United States. He proposed a mere $5 million for additional arts and culture funding for the next 20 years, but also a whopping $200 million in discretionary funding for his office and the 19 other council members.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey