Politicians are notorious for taking a short-term view; doing just what is needed to get them by until the next election.
Term limits exacerbates this problem.
Mayor Lenny Curry’s proposed $3 billion budget for next year purports to try to catch up on work that he says has been deferred by his predecessors.
Simultaneously, the School Board wants Jacksonville residents to increase taxes on themselves in order to catch up on decades of neglect in school building.
Curry focuses on four City Council districts he says have been neglected. As it happens, most residents of those districts have black skin. A special council committee on “social justice” also is going down that road.
Neither Curry nor council members have paved the road.
“I’ve also heard the righteous demands from our community to address social justice and the economic disparities in our community,” Curry said. “That includes infrastructure promises made long ago when our city was consolidated that have yet to be fully realized.”
Where is the evidence showing neglect of any areas of Jacksonville?
What did all the grand plans of the past accomplish, at considerable expense?
The Better Jacksonville Plan of a few years ago spent $2.25 billion. Before that was the River City Renaissance plan.
Curry essentially is saying that mayors Hans Tanzler, Jake Godbold, Tommy Hazouri, Ed Austin, John Delaney, John Peyton and Alvin Brown shirked their duties, along with dozens of council members over the past 50 years.
Hazouri, the current council president, is the one who appointed the social justice committee.
For his part, Curry has focused on reducing city debt and solving the pension problems for the past five years.
But, if there are vital needs that current revenues can’t fund, what better time to add debt when interest rates are at an all-time low? Maybe refinancing older debt also would be in order.
What the mayor and council should be telling taxpayers is how much has been spent in those four council districts vs. other council districts. Eye on Jacksonville has asked for that information.
There is some speculation that Curry was avoiding borrowing because he expected a windfall from the sale of the JEA, which he would use for capital improvement projects.
With the sale canceled and buried under investigations and accusations, that obviously is no long an option.
Curry technically is not proposing a tax increase, although property tax revenues will increase by $50 million because of growth. But anyone whose home value has increased will pay more. Sales tax revenue dropped $14 million.
Curry proposes $239 million in capital improvements.
If all the years and all the billions of dollars have not resulted in sufficient improvements in all council districts, the administration is obligated to show council members how and why those efforts have failed and how the new expenditures that are proposed will correct the alleged “disparities.”