How to make people wealthy

One “success story” from the Curry administration, 2008-2023, was the largest wealth transfer in the city’s history.

This multi-billion-dollar project was based on a Big Lie: That people outside of the former city limits were “promised” free water and sewer service.

That never happened.

Proponents of consolidation promised that efficiencies from merging the city and county governments would produce savings that would allow lower taxes.

For ten years after consolidation, the property tax rate was lowered each year.

At the same time, water and sewer service, then under the city’s Public Works Dept., was extended steadily to areas previously served by wells and septic tanks.

But it wasn’t forced on them. They had to vote to accept it, and not every neighborhood did.

Nevertheless, some 6,000 aging septic tanks were removed.

Homeowners paid the cost of removing the tanks and hooking up to the city’s system, a task that eventually passed to the JEA.

Why shouldn’t they? Their homes were bought at lower cost than similar homes with city water and sewer service. With the service, the value of their homes increased.

According to the state of Florida, properly designed and maintained septic tanks are perfectly fine when installed in areas where they function properly.

But Lenny Curry constantly made the bizarre claim that all septic tanks are a danger to the environment.

Really? Then why did were more than 40,000 new septic tanks installations approved since consolidation, including thousands while Curry was mayor?

Was Curry at war with the environment?

If they were so dangerous, why weren’t the people harming the environment with their septic tanks cited, fined and forced to fix them?

About seven years ago, the JEA stopped charging for sewer hookups.

That wasn’t good enough. Curry came up with a plan to accelerate free hookup and free septic tank removal. It will cost as much as $2 billion.

(It is a government project. The new courthouse was to cost $190 million and wound up being $350 million. It would be wise to consider that $2 billion an “estimate.”)

Allegedly there are some 60,000 septic tanks remaining. If all are upgraded, the value of those homes will increase substantially, courtesy of the taxpayer.

Here’s the kicker: Once hooked up, those homes will pay a significant new monthly cost for providing water and sewer service. They will find the increase in their net worth does not come without a cost.

It will mean millions of dollars of new revenue each year for JEA.

Was this related to the failed scheme to see the JEA, by making it more lucrative to potential buyers? Who knows?

But the morphing of making sewer hookups an option to homeowners, at a cost, into a free, wealth-increasing benefit – all based on a false premise – deserves a lot more attention than it has gotten.

People who paid for their own sewer hookups now pay for hookups for thousands of other people.

Food for thought: A wise person once said, “You can’t make the poor rich by making the rich poor.”

Lloyd Brown

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.

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