Talk about bad timing.
City Councilman Aaron Bowman is proposing a new tax on Jacksonville residents.
The nation probably is in a depression because of the Chinese virus. More than 40 million people are without jobs. The federal government is spending trillions of dollars – not money that it has but money that it is borrowing, leaving it for future generations to pay back.
Public schools in Jacksonville already are planning to ask local residents to agree to heap a new tax on themselves in November.
In short, Bowman’s proposal could hardly be more untimely.
Nevertheless, he got a nod of encouragement from Mayor Lenny Curry, who said he would like to hear more about it.
According to News4Jax, the money would address “racial disparities is (CQ) predominantly black neighborhoods.”
What racial disparities? Bowman didn’t say. News4Jax didn’t say in a June 4 story by Tarik Minor.
The story does claim that the “even distribution of taxpayer dollars to communities” is one of the demands protesters have called for in Jacksonville.
Bowman also was quoted as saying this has been “delayed for 52 years,” presumably referring to the time when the city and county governments were consolidated.
If he said that, he is flat wrong.
For years, the City Council apportioned $1 million to every council district. Not for any specified needs but simply for the district councilman to spend as he saw fit.
That obviously is poor public policy.
The main thing wrong with it is that every council district does not have the same dollar amount of needed public work done every year.
The other is that it would be too easy for council members to spread that money around to friends.
Bowman wants to increase the local gas tax, which is 6 cents but can go as high as 12 cents.
One penny would generate about $5 million a year.
Sadly, Bowman also is proposing yet another government agency be created. It would be called the Urban Core Development Authority and apparently its main duty would be dispensing the gas tax revenue.
Curry said it would be “invested” in neighborhoods that have not been invested in equitably.
Local governments do not invest money IN neighborhoods. They spend money ON neighborhoods. Bowman and Curry are talking about spending money.
One community organizer quoted by News4Jax said Bowman’s proposal would have a huge effect on public safety and would “interrupt” crime.
Millions of dollars have been dumped into areas such as Springfield, LaVilla and Northwest Jacksonville.
Are Bowman and other supporters prepared to show crime statistics for those areas showing a reduction in crime after the huge “investment” of public dollars?
If all those millions have not, in fact, reduced crime, how will another $5 million?
Eye on Jacksonville looked at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office crime maps, focusing on the 32209 ZIP code and an area of two miles around it.
In one week, there were 92 crimes reported, including assaults, burglaries, robberies and thefts.
If city officials want the private sector to actually invest in the area by opening businesses, the best way to do it would be to reduce crime. Businesses don’t want to operate in an area where they are subject to robbery and theft and significantly lower patronage.
That was the impetus recently for the city to hand Winn-Dixie $850,000 to open a grocery in the Gateway shopping center.
Everyone is not as thrilled by the idea as the mayor. Among the comments on the News4Jax story: “Yeah! Bigger government and higher taxes is the answer to everything!”
When politicians propose a new tax – especially during a time of economic crisis – they really need to tell the taxpayers why it is needed and convince them that they are not just pandering.