City asks FDOT to give $300K for ferry

$405K committed so far to fund Mayport ferry's operation

The Jacksonville Port Authority Board met to discuss the future of the Mayport Ferry.
The Jacksonville Port Authority Board met to discuss the future of the Mayport Ferry.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville is asking the Florida Department of Transportation to contribute a one time amount of $300,000 to help save the St. Johns River Ferry at Mayport.

In the past, DOT said it would be a funding partner but never said how much it would contribute.

The ferry has a total of $405,000 committed to funding it for the next year -- $200,000 from the city, $200,000 from the Jacksonville Port Authority and $5,000 from Atlantic Beach.

The ferry needs about $300,000 more to continue to operate once for at least another year once JaxPort stops fully funding it at September's end.

Ferry riders are encouraged by the money that has been committed so far.

"They need to find the money to save the ferry," rider Renne Chiarello said. "I mean, everybody who lives at the beach and uses the ferry, they feel the same way."

"If you close the ferry, you shut Mayport down completely," said Marty Trauter, a former Atlantic Beach police officer. "Any businesses that are there now, very few folks are going to come to Mayport."

Many are questioning the city's commitment of $200,000 because of the recent budget cut discussions with the Fire Department and the libraries.

The city, however, said the money is available in this year's budget.

"Even with cuts, the city anticipates spending nearly $950 million in the general fund budget for 2013," a city spokesman said in a statement. "Also, the budget gap is now below $8.1 million with a balanced budget due by July 15."

"I've been in government service all my life, and there are other areas that can be cut without cutting into public safety and without cutting into necessary public transportation," Trauter said.

"I've seen numerous wasteful government expenditures in this city, and not to mention the (new) courthouse," ferry rider Jim Duff said.

The money committed is only for operation of the ferry. There's still the matter of $3 million needed for repairs.