Author Topic: Is a gas tax increase a solution to Jax's funding woes?  (Read 12437 times)

CityLife

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Re: Is a gas tax increase a solution to Jax's funding woes?
« Reply #45 on: May 17, 2021, 11:54:19 AM »
Jack Rowan had a great guest column in the Times Union today, featuring ethical concerns I wasn't aware of. The whole article is excellent but I'll post the two points of interest.

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/opinion/2021/05/16/guest-column-ethical-dilemmas-gas-tax/5081120001/

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On the ethics front, the gas tax bill removes the requirement that citizen members of the two oversight committees must be free of conflicts with projects funded by the tax. If not placed back in by an amendment, members from construction companies that could benefit from getting city business could become a part of the decision-making process. This is a major red flag that lends credence to some who claim that the Mayor’s Office put the proposal forward for underhanded reasons. If the Council wants to prevent this tax from being smeared, they must bring back these protections against conflicts of interest.

The bill also runs into issues with the amount of power that the Mayor’s Office receives within this bill. In the committees, the Mayor gets to appoint two members, his appointee to JTA gets to appoint two more members, and Lenny’s right-hand man, Brian Hughes, would sit on the committee. This effectively grants the executive a majority on the committees that will have a significant role in dolling out financing and contracts. This would be the most concerning aspect if it weren’t for the final part of the committee’s composition. Being the man at the helm of the disasters that were Lot J and the attempted sale of JEA (which led to the current federal grand jury investigation), Brian Hughes should not be allowed within a thousand miles of these funds.

I think he went a little too hard in the paint slamming Curry and his crew, but nonetheless, that was a very impressive bit of political analysis from an undergrad college student.

One thing that I'm not sure I've seen discussed anywhere, but perhaps Lake, TUFSU, Charles Hunter or one of our transportation gurus can fill me in...have the gas tax revenue projections factored the increased usage of electric cars, autonomous vehicles, and other alternate forms of transportation that will be more prevalent in the future? Or are they still assuming the status quo?

vicupstate

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Re: Is a gas tax increase a solution to Jax's funding woes?
« Reply #46 on: May 17, 2021, 12:02:07 PM »
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I think he went a little too hard in the paint slamming Curry and his crew, but nonetheless, that was a very impressive bit of political analysis from an undergrad college student.

Impressive indeed. Is he Nate Monroe's younger brother, by any chance? Brother by another mother??

That is meant as a compliment, btw.   
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thelakelander

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Re: Is a gas tax increase a solution to Jax's funding woes?
« Reply #47 on: May 17, 2021, 12:16:57 PM »
Jack Rowan had a great guest column in the Times Union today, featuring ethical concerns I wasn't aware of. The whole article is excellent but I'll post the two points of interest.

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/opinion/2021/05/16/guest-column-ethical-dilemmas-gas-tax/5081120001/

Quote
On the ethics front, the gas tax bill removes the requirement that citizen members of the two oversight committees must be free of conflicts with projects funded by the tax. If not placed back in by an amendment, members from construction companies that could benefit from getting city business could become a part of the decision-making process. This is a major red flag that lends credence to some who claim that the Mayor’s Office put the proposal forward for underhanded reasons. If the Council wants to prevent this tax from being smeared, they must bring back these protections against conflicts of interest.

The bill also runs into issues with the amount of power that the Mayor’s Office receives within this bill. In the committees, the Mayor gets to appoint two members, his appointee to JTA gets to appoint two more members, and Lenny’s right-hand man, Brian Hughes, would sit on the committee. This effectively grants the executive a majority on the committees that will have a significant role in dolling out financing and contracts. This would be the most concerning aspect if it weren’t for the final part of the committee’s composition. Being the man at the helm of the disasters that were Lot J and the attempted sale of JEA (which led to the current federal grand jury investigation), Brian Hughes should not be allowed within a thousand miles of these funds.

I think he went a little too hard in the paint slamming Curry and his crew, but nonetheless, that was a very impressive bit of political analysis from an undergrad college student.

One thing that I'm not sure I've seen discussed anywhere, but perhaps Lake, TUFSU, Charles Hunter or one of our transportation gurus can fill me in...have the gas tax revenue projections factored the increased usage of electric cars, autonomous vehicles, and other alternate forms of transportation that will be more prevalent in the future? Or are they still assuming the status quo?

From my understanding, they factor this in. If we don't do a LOGT now, the potential revenue will be lower as time goes on.
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CityLife

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Re: Is a gas tax increase a solution to Jax's funding woes?
« Reply #48 on: May 17, 2021, 02:00:48 PM »
Quote
I think he went a little too hard in the paint slamming Curry and his crew, but nonetheless, that was a very impressive bit of political analysis from an undergrad college student.

Impressive indeed. Is he Nate Monroe's younger brother, by any chance? Brother by another mother??

That is meant as a compliment, btw.

Haha. Looks like he's FSU's answer to Marcus. Point to Mr. Rowan. The ball is in your court now Marcus.

These two are single handedly smashing Gen Z stereotypes in front of our eyes.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2021, 02:02:34 PM by CityLife »

jaxoNOLE

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Re: Is a gas tax increase a solution to Jax's funding woes?
« Reply #49 on: May 17, 2021, 04:44:24 PM »
Moved to this thread as it's more on-topic here.

Something else that's been bothering me about the argument against the tax is the federal money angle.

Argument #1: We should wait for all the money we're going to get from the federal infrastructure bill.
Rebuttals:
  • The actual legislation is in the "executive branch wish list" phase. Timing, if it passes at all, is highly uncertain.
  • No guarantee that the bill passes.
  • If the bill passes, no guarantee on the amount Jacksonville will receive.
  • If Jacksonville receives anything, strings or restrictions may be attached.
  • If local revenue matching is expected to win said federal money, we're right back to the LOGT.
  • The same council members who are anti-tax on the LOGT are somehow okay with a mega-sized federal tax-and-spend initiative? I'd far rather have my taxes raised at the local level where 100% of the funds go into my community. This one smacks of hypocrisy. The party of independence, home rule, and small government opts out of handling infrastructure in-house so they can bolster their ideological street cred while happily accepting the benefits of an opposition-led spending program they ought to abhor.
  • If a federal windfall arrives late this year or next year, they can always revisit the project list to take advantage of the funding. Goodness knows we have far more infrastructure work beyond the proposed list to tackle.

Argument #2: We should just use the money from the American Rescue Plan for septic tank removal.
Rebuttals:
  • Not all of the $343 million can reasonably be directed to septic tanks. I'm sure there are still needs in the community related to COVID-19 that should take priority, not to mention the local district pork the political process tends to create.
  • Even if all $343 million could be directed to septic tanks, it's a problem that will take billions to fix. The $343 million AND the general fund relief from the gas tax combined still aren't enough to fully fund septic tank removals. It is very short-sighted to be thinking only about funding the next few years. The $100 million before Council now is just a start. Instead of funding the septic conversion from one source or another, how about dedicating funding from multiple sources to solve this 50 year old problem? Get as much money as you can for it and put it in a lockbox to pay for the work as quickly as it can be completed so we're not having this conversation again in 3 years.
  • This is a one-time windfall. How do you fund the rest? Where do you find room in the general fund for all those infrastructure projects the LOGT will fund? Won't it be difficult to bond hundreds of millions in giveaways to the Jaguars if we have to fund silly things like infrastructure with our own debt? (Looking at you, Lot J "yes" votes)

For all the talk on Council of long-overdue infrastructure needs, the arguments being made against the LOGT seem to shrug our deficiencies off as a one-time problem a little federal funding (or maybe some local debt) could fix, and then we could get right back to being perfect ol' Jacksonville again. But the Better Jacksonville Plan, Curry's pension tax extension, and the half-cent for schools are prima facie evidence the City has an ongoing revenue problem. For Council members against the LOGT, craft an alternative that pays for itself. Show us all the waste that turns our abundance of revenue into a shortfall for funding basic needs, and then file legislation to fix it.

thelakelander

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Re: Is a gas tax increase a solution to Jax's funding woes?
« Reply #50 on: May 17, 2021, 05:07:46 PM »
All those alternative proposals are basically suggestions to maintain the status quo. Every suggestion being offered up as an alternative to the LOGT should instead be done in addition to the LOGT.
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marcuscnelson

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Re: Is a gas tax increase a solution to Jax's funding woes?
« Reply #51 on: May 17, 2021, 06:31:50 PM »
Haha. Looks like he's FSU's answer to Marcus. Point to Mr. Rowan. The ball is in your court now Marcus.

These two are single handedly smashing Gen Z stereotypes in front of our eyes.

Haha, I've spoken to Jack before, we don't see eye to eye on everything but he's a good guy. I guess it's back to me to write something else. I've had a few ideas actually, just haven't fleshed them out yet.

One thing I was thinking about was how $930 million in I-95 widening was quietly funded with the stroke of a pen, but we're amidst this heavyweight fight over spending the same amount on much more expansive and useful stuff (U2C aside) than extra lanes of highway that will almost certainly fill up immediately, after spending years causing utter chaos from all the construction.

For all the talk on Council of long-overdue infrastructure needs, the arguments being made against the LOGT seem to shrug our deficiencies off as a one-time problem a little federal funding (or maybe some local debt) could fix, and then we could get right back to being perfect ol' Jacksonville again. But the Better Jacksonville Plan, Curry's pension tax extension, and the half-cent for schools are prima facie evidence the City has an ongoing revenue problem. For Council members against the LOGT, craft an alternative that pays for itself. Show us all the waste that turns our abundance of revenue into a shortfall for funding basic needs, and then file legislation to fix it.

Pretty much what Lake said. If anything, we should be passing this gas tax and Councilman Becton's loan (although probably not for just more roads) and utilizing the American Rescue Plan money and looking forward to the potential opportunities of the American Jobs Plan, if and in whatever form it passes in. This is absolutely not the time to cover one's eyes or ears and pretend that there are no real infrastructure needs in Jacksonville, nor that we are incapable of addressing those needs ourselves.

Following that column from the other day and pretending that a bunch of "digital infrastructure" is going to make us a "global leader in digital innovation" would probably be silly, but investing in complete streets and trail networks and sewer systems, making sure the place is clean and easy to get around? Policy that focuses on building housing that's practical and affordable for young families to get started here? Why not? Talk about visionary leadership for a moment and actually have a vision for making this city beautiful! (sorry Orlando)

Also:

Quote
The same council members who are anti-tax on the LOGT are somehow okay with a mega-sized federal tax-and-spend initiative? I'd far rather have my taxes raised at the local level where 100% of the funds go into my community. This one smacks of hypocrisy. The party of independence, home rule, and small government opts out of handling infrastructure in-house so they can bolster their ideological street cred while happily accepting the benefits of an opposition-led spending program they ought to abhor.

If any of the people in question were in Congress right now, I'd bet you all the money in my wallet that they would be fighting tooth and nail against the American Jobs Plan, only to crow over the money it gives their district once it passes without their vote. Hell, we'll get to watch John Rutherford do exactly that.
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

thelakelander

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Re: Is a gas tax increase a solution to Jax's funding woes?
« Reply #52 on: May 18, 2021, 09:04:25 AM »
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Duval voters opposed to gas tax hike, Skyway spending

Duval County residents are opposed to a bill to increasing the city’s gas tax but if there is one, they don’t want the money spent on the Downtown Skyway, according to a poll released May 18 by the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida.

Mayor Lenny Curry and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority want to increase the gas tax from 6 cents to 12 cents per gallon to pay for nearly $1 billion in infrastructure projects. City Council is debating the legislation, Ordinance 2021-0223.

Asked whether they support or oppose the bill, the poll found 58% of respondents either strongly or somewhat oppose it.

https://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/article/duval-voters-opposed-to-gas-tax-hike-skyway-spending
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bl8jaxnative

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Re: Is a gas tax increase a solution to Jax's funding woes?
« Reply #53 on: May 18, 2021, 09:32:48 AM »

Most of Jacksonville opposes this gas tax?  NOt a shocker.  No one is out there with a proposal that benefits all of the city. 

From the start the proposal had bad optics, poorly half of it's money into something no one uses that runs a few blocks downtown.

And now the new "alternative" to that is to put less money into that unused thing and to...... put a bunch of that money into trails that 90% of the people in the city will never use.

Are they any politicians in this city that know that you can't sell something to the city if they don't feel like they're going to benefit from it?

jaxoNOLE

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Re: Is a gas tax increase a solution to Jax's funding woes?
« Reply #54 on: May 18, 2021, 09:46:51 AM »
Quote
Duval voters opposed to gas tax hike, Skyway spending

Duval County residents are opposed to a bill to increasing the city’s gas tax but if there is one, they don’t want the money spent on the Downtown Skyway, according to a poll released May 18 by the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida.

Mayor Lenny Curry and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority want to increase the gas tax from 6 cents to 12 cents per gallon to pay for nearly $1 billion in infrastructure projects. City Council is debating the legislation, Ordinance 2021-0223.

Asked whether they support or oppose the bill, the poll found 58% of respondents either strongly or somewhat oppose it.

https://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/article/duval-voters-opposed-to-gas-tax-hike-skyway-spending

I received this survey and took it. I wish they would have asked a couple more questions to tease out what the public really has an issue with. One glaring omission was asking the public whether they supported debt financing for the septic tank phase out. It's easy to say, "We want the work done but don't want to raise taxes." But what do the numbers look like if you position the choice between debt and taxes instead of a unilateral up-or-down on the tax?

Separately, you have 58% against the bill but 34% of respondents indicated zero funding for the Skyway is their ideal. How many of those 34% are represented in the 58% because of the Skyway's inclusion? How many of them become in favor if the Skyway is removed? I believe you might actually tip the scales to majority support for the LOGT if you axe the Skyway spending entirely.

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Asked about spending on the Emerald Trail, 54% said at least $150 million should be allocated to funding it, with 23% indicating even more should be spent. [...]
“An enormous majority, 87%, think that less money should be allocated to the Skyway than the original proposal, many of whom think the number should be zero,” Binder said. The Emerald Trail fared somewhat better, but voters aren’t terribly excited about spending money on either project.”

77% in favor of $150M or more to the Emerald Trail doesn't indicate strong support? Not sure I agree with that analysis.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2021, 09:51:23 AM by jaxoNOLE »

vicupstate

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Re: Is a gas tax increase a solution to Jax's funding woes?
« Reply #55 on: May 18, 2021, 09:56:00 AM »
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And now the new "alternative" to that is to put less money into that unused thing and to...... put a bunch of that money into trails that 90% of the people in the city will never use.

Don't underestimate the impact of a good trail system. Here in Greenville, our trail system is about 20 years old. Not only has it been the most used recreational facility county-wide (by an order of magnitude), it has also been a economic development powerhouse. More people use the trail in a year than live in the county.  The parts of the county that got the original lines are booming with new homes and businesses.  Any area that wasn't included originally are vigorously trying to get included in the future expansions. 
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CityLife

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Re: Is a gas tax increase a solution to Jax's funding woes?
« Reply #56 on: May 18, 2021, 10:15:28 AM »
Quote
Duval voters opposed to gas tax hike, Skyway spending

Duval County residents are opposed to a bill to increasing the city’s gas tax but if there is one, they don’t want the money spent on the Downtown Skyway, according to a poll released May 18 by the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida.

Mayor Lenny Curry and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority want to increase the gas tax from 6 cents to 12 cents per gallon to pay for nearly $1 billion in infrastructure projects. City Council is debating the legislation, Ordinance 2021-0223.

Asked whether they support or oppose the bill, the poll found 58% of respondents either strongly or somewhat oppose it.

https://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/article/duval-voters-opposed-to-gas-tax-hike-skyway-spending

Polls can be very useful for simple opinions like, do you support gay marriage? Do you support gun control? Do believe abortion is ok?

However, they should be completely discounted for complex issues that have layers and layers of nuance. How many participants in the poll know that Clay and Nassau both have 12 cent gas taxes? How many know that Jax will be capturing a ton of gas tax revenue from out of state visitors (some of whom are simply driving through) and residents of surrounding counties that heavily use Jax's roads...Or that it can be regressive and disproportionately affect lower income residents? Or understand the strategy to remove transportation related items from the CIP to fund other improvements?

It's an extremely complex issue. I've loosely followed it and have a fairly strong understanding of planning, municipal finance, and politics; and I don't think I could even properly vote on whether it is the right decision or not. There's no way that Joe Wesconnett or Kristy Moncrief can.

fsu813

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Re: Is a gas tax increase a solution to Jax's funding woes?
« Reply #57 on: May 18, 2021, 12:26:07 PM »
Quote
Duval voters opposed to gas tax hike, Skyway spending

Duval County residents are opposed to a bill to increasing the city’s gas tax but if there is one, they don’t want the money spent on the Downtown Skyway, according to a poll released May 18 by the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida.

Mayor Lenny Curry and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority want to increase the gas tax from 6 cents to 12 cents per gallon to pay for nearly $1 billion in infrastructure projects. City Council is debating the legislation, Ordinance 2021-0223.

Asked whether they support or oppose the bill, the poll found 58% of respondents either strongly or somewhat oppose it.

https://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/article/duval-voters-opposed-to-gas-tax-hike-skyway-spending

"The data shows voters want the improvements without the additional gas tax.”

Lol. Yup.

marcuscnelson

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Re: Is a gas tax increase a solution to Jax's funding woes?
« Reply #58 on: May 18, 2021, 02:37:00 PM »
^ Thinking about this quote from Mark Woods' article about the gas tax.

Quote
Some pointed to other cities and said: Why don’t we have this or that?

We do this often. And the answer typically is: This or that costs money.

So beyond asking people if they support a gas tax, it’s worth asking if they want road improvements, septic tank removal, a park system that lives up to its potential, a city that doesn’t perpetually rank as one of the worst for pedestrians and bicyclists, the kind of place that makes young people want to stay and Fortune 500 companies want to arrive.

Not that this gas tax alone will do all of this. But it can move the needle on something that's hard to quantify: quality of life.

Apple recently chose to put its latest East Coast expansion — a $1 billion campus that will have 3,000 employees — not in the supposedly business-friendly climate of the Sunshine State, but in Raleigh, N.C.

Some have noted that this is despite North Carolina having higher taxes than Florida. But maybe it’s actually because North Carolina has higher taxes, or at least because it has some of the things that come with those taxes.

In Jacksonville, we seem to be quick to invest public dollars in private projects and slow to take public dollars and use them for public projects.
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

WarDamJagFan

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Re: Is a gas tax increase a solution to Jax's funding woes?
« Reply #59 on: May 19, 2021, 05:05:10 AM »
It's almost as if people see the way their taxes are currently being piss-poorly managed and would rather see improvement in that category before another tax is passed. Having the skyway expansion originally tagged as a reason behind the tax didn't exactly help.