Mayor Curry opposed to special election for sales tax referendum

Mayor questions why Duval County School Board taking this approach

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Lenny Curry is not ready to comment on whether or not he supports a proposed half-cent sales tax to help fund the repair or replacement of Duval County's aging schools, but he is opposed to putting the measure before voters in a special election.

The Duval County School Board voted earlier this week to ask voters to approve the tax hike to raise an estimated $1.9 billion needed to bring all schools up to par.

The board wants to see that vote happen in November, but it would be the only issue on the ballot. It will be up to City Council to decide if and when the resolution would go before voters.

“I am waiting to see details,” Curry said. "Like any piece of legislation, this will have to go through City Council and, depending what happens (with) City Council, it will end up on my desk and I will assess it at that time.”

All sides agree this could be a tough sell and having the mayor’s support would be vital.

Curry was able to convince voters to extend a sales tax in 2017 to fund paying off the city’s pension debt but, like many City Council members, he has lots of questions regarding why the school board is taking this approach.

One thing Curry said he knows for sure now is the bad timing of the measure.

"I do not support a special election for the referendum,“ Curry said. "I think it’s too costly, but they’re going to have to make their case to the body of the city.”

News4Jax learned that if the vote was held by mail only, the cost would run $750,000 to $800,000. If voting was also held on Election Day, the cost would rise at least $850,000. Add early voting to the mix and the price tag jumps to between $1.2 million and $1.3 million.

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