Mayor Lenny Curry has done a good job of holding down the number of city employees since he took office, but he might want to add one new position: A fact-checker.
It is something the media should be doing all the time, but in this case they are uninterested, to a rather shocking degree.
At a town hall meeting recently, Curry’s chief of staff was airing a familiar theme of the administration – that it is fulfilling promises made at the time of consolidation.
It is baloney and when challenged Jordan Elsbury could not defend the claim.
There is no record Eye has been able to find of any public official or public body making any kind of binding promise to future generations to provide them with free septic tank removal and connection to city sewer service.
But that’s not all.
Elsbury also attempted to justify Curry’s Billion-Dollar Plan, which involves doubling the local gas tax, by saying the administration had been trying to catch up on an infrastructure backlog from the period 2008-2015 when, he said, little or nothing was done.
It sounded plausible, no doubt, to those at the meeting. In 2008 there was a serious recession nationwide and the local government’s revenues took a hit.
In the 2008 fiscal year, capital outlay was only a bit more than $81 million.
But, as Paul Harvey would have said, here’s the rest of the story:
2010 – $157.7 million
2011 – $168.2 million
2012 – $87.4 million
2013 – $47.4 million
2014 – $65.9 million
2015 – $20 million
Curry took office in 2015, and then:
2016 – $83.2 million
2017 – $106.4 million
2018 – $155.7 million
2019 – $166 million
2020 – $170.9 million
2021 – $240.5 million
The City Council, since Curry became mayor, has been stepping up spending on infrastructure.
But where is the Great Deficit?
In the six years B.C. (Before Curry) capital outlay was $546,6 million.
In the six years afterward it was $682.2 million. That’s any increase of nearly 25 percent over a recessionary period. And there was considerable spending from the Better Jacksonville Plan still going on in the earlier years.
Of course the boosters, which includes the businessmen and the media, aren’t interested in the fact that Curry’s facts are wobbly.
Nor do they seem to care that no support has been shown for Curry’s claim that a dire public health threat is presented by septic tanks in the city, another often-stated reason for the whopping tax increase.
He hasn’t identified allegedly leaking tanks by location or enumeration, except to throw out a few numbers that probably are as valid as the Great Deficit.
The people who are going to pay that tax might want to know but Curry and the boosters are avoiding a straw vote of the people and are trying to ram it through the council this month.
It may work.
(Editor’s note: The spending comparison has been changed from an earlier version.)