​There’s no free lunch

Details of the pending renewal of the city’s contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars have not been revealed and already there is a scramble to find the money.

The deal hammered out over the past few months is expected to be introduced in the City Council Tuesday.

If not approved the team could leave the city for another venue.

The key to the contract is the proposed renovations to the city’s stadium, estimated to be $1.4 billion. How much of that the team and the city would pay was the main subject of the negotiations.

One suggestion making the rounds was to get the city’s pension funds to “invest” in the rebuilding of the stadium but fund managers quickly shot that down. Their comments made it seem like they view such as investment as being only slightly less appealing than buying invisible bitcoins.

Another trial balloon then was floated – tapping the JEA for all or part of the cost.

This really is a scam, as it makes those who don’t understand the financing think that it spares taxpayers the cost.

Jea gives the city about $110 million a year.

Property owners would have to pay the city that much more per year if not for that payment. But people tend to overlook the fact that for all intents and purposes taxpayers and JEA customers are the same people.

Thus, JEA customers are the ones keeping taxes down – their own taxes.

If the JEA helps pay for the stadium, JEA customers will make the payment. But it will come out of their JEA pocket, not their property tax pocket.

No matter how politicians try to disguise it, the people of Jacksonville will pay for the stadium improvements and not all of them are convinced it is worth the cost to keep the team in Jacksonville.

Eye on Jacksonville asked a member of the Jaguars team for a list of costs and benefits to having the team in Jacksonville but it has not been forthcoming.

Everyone realizes there are benefits to having a professional football team in town.

But how the council members could make a decision without some comparison of the cost and the benefits is hard to imagine.

If they decide in favor of keeping the team they have to decide how to raise the money. Given recent decisions to spend huge sums on frivolous things such as the Emerald Trail and septic tank replacement, finding more dollars will not be so easy, which is why politicians are looking at pension funds and the JEA.

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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