JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office could be moving downtown in a plan that may be like musical chairs for city buildings.
One proposal would consolidate both the Gateway site and an existing elections office on Monroe Street downtown and move it to another city building downtown, which would shift other offices to other area.
The elections office at Gateway Mall has been an ongoing problem for Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland. The city pays very high rent -- over $55,000 a month.
The building appears to have been going downhill for years. Holland said it has rats, water damage and broken equipment. That's why he's been pressing the mayor and City Council to move his office and build a new site downtown.
Now the mayor's staff has come up with a recommendation. Instead of a new building, his staff suggests using the top floors of the Yates building. The city owns it, so there would be no rent to pay. But it would mean moving out the Property Appraiser's Office, which occupies half the building and keeping the Tax Collector's Office there.
The mayor's staff says that would save taxpayers millions of dollars.
Holland doesn't believe this will work. He walked Channel 4's Jim Piggott around the building Wednesday afternoon, showing him why. Holland said that with all of the equipment his office uses every election, hauling it all upstairs is unreasonable.
"This is not suit to be a distribution or warehouse facility," Holland said. "That is one of our main concerns. Another one is the largest piece of equipment we have will not fit in this elevator."
Holland said voters would have a hard time as well. Right now, to get into the building, people have to go through security and show ID. But with voters coming in, he doesn't think that will work.
"I respect the city, and believe me, I would love to find a city-owned facility that we could go to or lease someone else's facility. That is an admirable goal the city is looking at," Holland said. "But this facility does not work."
This plan could mean closing the other elections office downtown or just use it as a voting site. It also would mean moving the Property Appraiser's Office to a building across from City Hall.
Property Appraiser Jim Overton said he doesn't want to move, but said he will if it saves money.
Holland and city officials will meet Monday to discuss the proposal.
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