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Why aren’t taxpayers lavishing money on Amazon, the online mega-company that arguably has done as much or more for the city than the Jacksonville Jaguars?

Since 2017, according to the Daily Record, Amazon has opened, announced or is identified on plans for:

• Three large – about 1 million-square-foot – fulfillment centers in North, Northwest and West Jacksonville. 

• A sortation center in West Jacksonville and another center of similar size, also in West Jacksonville.

• A center to handle heavy bulk freight, also in West Jacksonville.

• Five delivery stations — two in North Jacksonville, one in West Jacksonville, the new Northwest Jacksonville locations and one in St. Johns County.

Yet it appears that Amazon has been given few incentives relative to the football team.

Eye on Jacksonville checked with the tax collector and found that the city has received $2.8 million in taxes from Amazon in that short time. It does not collect any real property taxes directly from Amazon because it is leasing its facilities.

But Amazon certainly is creating jobs and wealth.

You can see Amazon delivery trucks everywhere in the city all day every day.

It would be interesting for someone to compare the economic impact of Amazon vs. the Jaguars, who constantly have their hands out for taxpayer dollars.

Currently the football team’s owner wants $250 million to help him build new facilities near the stadium. That proposal will be voted upon next month.

After that, according to reports, the team’s owner will ask for $500 million to rebuild the stadium. It has only been about 25 years since the World War II-era stadium was torn down and rebuilt from the ground up.

Eye has suggested that the city consider selling, or giving, the stadium to the Jaguars and let them spend their own money on constant upgrading. The stadium does not produce much revenue for the city.

Another difference is that Amazon probably is here to stay while rumors continually circulate that the football team might move to another city that would hand out more money.

The theory of incentives is that companies will build facilities that they would not build without the incentives. Therefore, it is sensible in the long run to give up a few dollars initially. The trick comes in determining whether the incentives really are needed.

Legislation in the City Council four years ago attempted to fashion a public policy on incentives, with the bottom line being the return on investment (ROI).

The ROI on the Lot J proposal from the Jaguars, according to the council auditor, would be 44 cents for every dollar spent. Not exactly a golden goose for the taxpayers.

Eye on Jacksonville has asked the city’s information guardians the following questions:

  • The city incentives provided or promised to the Jaguars to date.
  • The city incentives provided or promised to Amazon to date.
  • The city’s estimate of the number of jobs resulting from the Jaguars presence.
  • The city’s estimate of the number of jobs resulting from Amazon’s presence.
  • The amount of taxes and revenue resulting annually from the Jaguars.
  • The amount of taxes and revenue resulting annually from Amazon.

If we succeed in getting the information we will provide it to readers.

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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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