Finally, a special City Council committee that is eyeing increased spending on infrastructure is beginning to collect some useful data.
Knowing where you are before you start a trip always is useful. The committee is setting out to ensure spending is equitable throughout the city.
At the committee’s first meeting last week it was clear they had no useful information, aside from some sketchy figures provided to Council Member Ron Salem by the mayor’s office.
Co-chairman Matt Carlucci, however, has been dogging the issue, seeking information about what has been spent, and where.
Although there has been no agreement among committee members on what areas specifically have been short-changed on infrastructure, as some have alleged, Carlucci has defined an area of interest he calls the “urban core.” It includes parts of the old city before it was merged with the county.
The information he was provided from council researchers indicates that area got 18 percent of the capital improvements funding over the past 10 years.
But, it is not yet known what the percentages for the area or the population are, so that figure can’t be used for any meaningful comparison with the city overall.
Eye on Jacksonville has asked the mayor’s office for a breakdown of spending by council district.
Carlucci earlier had suggested that 33 percent of the spending next year be in the urban core, which would be a substantial increase from 18 percent.
In 2012, the area designated by Carlucci got 51 percent of the funds available.
In dollar amounts, the area got $197.5 million of the $1.1 billion spent during the 10-year period.
Mayor Lenny Curry is proposing $239 million in capital spending for next year. If the urban core got 18 percent it would be $43 million. At 33 percent, it would be $79 million.
What the area actually needs in infrastructure improvements is another question, although that is information the committee needs to have before it can make a rational decision.
Curry’s proposed budget increases spending on capital improvements but would not increase taxes. If the council wants to increase the amount in the mayor’s budget, it will have to reshuffle priorities or impose a tax increase.
In a preliminary vote recently, the council voted against a tax increase.
The special committee meets again on Monday. It is a virtual meeting so anyone with internet access can watch the proceedings.