Mayor’s proposed budget contains the usual blarney

People are catching on.

In comments posted below a local media story online about the new city budget, someone said: “The mayor singled out the long-overdue septic tank project, saying it was a promise made to local neighborhoods decades ago. Now, he said, thanks to the “Jobs For Jax” program funded by the city’s gas tax increase, the city can finally live up to that promise.” Still waiting for anyone to cite “the promise.”

Another answered with a lot of misinformation: “I believe this dates back to 1968, when the vote to consolidate the city with the county was held. The residents of northwest Jacksonville were encouraged to support Consolidation with promises of city sewer service and additional funding for their neighborhoods. Remember, Jim Crow and segregation had recently ended with the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, which was followed by white flight to the suburbs. So the old city limits had become majority Black. Form your own conclusions as to what was really behind consolidation. Of course it was sold as a way to save money by combining city and county services. This is all from memory but I believe it is fairly accurate.”

The other person replied: “I believe you. I just want someone…anyone…to cite the actual promise that was made. Who made it? To whom? Specifically.”

As Eye on Jacksonville repeatedly has stated: There was no promise made to provide a free conversion to city sewer service for everyone in the city who had a septic tank. Nor would any such promise have any legal weight.

The key is that people finally are asking the right question. Politicians seeking excuses for spending billions of dollars of local taxpayer’s money are citing a promise as justification but never can cite a source for their assertion.

If they want to spend the money and have the votes to get it approved, fine. But why lie about the reason?

As for the mayor’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year, it raises a few questions.

We would ask Mayor Lenny Curry those questions but he won’t or can’t answer questions from Eye.

One question is, why present the budget as $1.4 billion? That is only the operating cost within the general fund. But the figure is dutifully reported by the local lapdog media — who apparently never look at the actual budget document — as the total cost of city government to taxpayers.

If the media did their job, they would report that the mayor plans to spend $3.5 billion — and that’s only if you don’t count the cost of the city’s independent authorities.

Curry is able to do that because the economy is improving after a pandemic and the federal government is lavishing billions of dollars on state and local governments – money it has borrowed or printed.

Curry also succeeded in pushing through a hefty increase in the local gas tax and will have that revenue to spend.

Curry plans to increase the police and fire budgets while many Democrat-run cities throughout the nation are cutting back.

City Council probably will agree with that move but it should examine closely the proposal to expand the Cure Violence program. To date, no one has shown it is producing results.

City employees would get a generous pay raise using the federal government largesse, which is one-time funding. That will build a substantial recurring cost into the budget.

Each of Curry’s seven budgets has kept the tax rate flat, thanks to growth and revenue sharing.

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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