In a so-called “investigation,” reporters for a local TV station wrote that families in one neighborhood “are finally seeing the promise fulfilled that city leaders made during Jacksonville’s consolidation in 1968.”
This is total nonsense.
No elected officials in the 1960s promised anyone that they would get free sewer hookups at taxpayer expense.
Yet, the city is spending more than $2 billion to do just that.
What people were told is that Democrats who ran the city had neglected it for 30 years and that consolidation of the city and county would save enough money to do something about it – specifically, extending the city’s water and sewer lines into areas outside the former city limits where there were none.
That was done, at a cost of more than $800 million in 1970s dollars.
New treatment plants were built, old private systems were bought and connected to the city’s system. Water and sewer service operations were transferred to the JEA.
Over the years, it continued to expand, adding some 740 miles of sewer lines.
City officials during those years also continued to allow people to build homes with septic tanks – thousands of them that they now will pay to remove at taxpayer expense.
Meanwhile, they did almost no enforcement of septic tank pollution they now claim has been rampant. At the same time, state officials have stated that properly maintained septic tanks were safe and effective.
But Mayor Lenny Curry demanded that the local gas tax be doubled to provide money to give everyone with a septic tank free hookups to city sewer lines — a cost previously paid by the homeowner. City Council caved in, even though taxpayers had paid more than $138 million in stormwater fees (with two-thirds of it spent on administrative expenses).
News4Jax found a homeowner who complained that frequent flooding caused her septic tank to malfunction.
She obviously did not use due diligence when buying her home or she would have known that it had a septic tank and that the area was prone to flooding.
Nevertheless, she undoubtedly got the home at a lower cost than an identical home on a sewer line would have cost. Yet, she expects other taxpayers to pay for an improvement that will make her home more valuable.
A JEA employee bragged to News4Jax about the work, restated the false information about promises and said that homeowners, in addition to free hookups, are getting replacement of existing water lines, rebuilding and repaving of the roads, new curbs and unspecified “work on private property.”
What News4Jax published was a routine news story. With so many facts wrong or left out from their story, it is a real stretch to call it an investigation.