City Council denies emergency approval of funds for water taxis

Council will review the bill, revisit later this month

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The City Council voted 12 to 7 on Tuesday to deny emergency approval of funding for new water taxis.

The Baltimore-based vendor who had been running the water taxi service across the St. Johns River pulled out last Friday. Mayor Alvin Brown's administration announced a last-minute plan to spend $338,500 to buy two new water taxis to re-start the service.

But at Tuesday's City Council meeting, council members voted not to approve the emergency request to appropriate the necessary funds from the City Banking Fund. Instead the council wants to review the bill for re-starting the water taxi service and then revisit it at the next meeting on June 24.

Many on the council didn't deem the ending of the water taxi service to be an emergency.

"We're going to take a look and see if this is something that we feel is a core service of government. That is it in a nutshell," councilman Richard Clark said. "Are water taxis truly a core service? At this point, with so many other needs, it's going to be hard to justify that."

The plan is for the city to own the boats, which will be operated temporarily by an Atlantic Beach company. Representatives of the mayor's office said they hope to have a permanent water taxi contract within six months.

The city had said the ferries wouldn't be available for service until Friday, after the Coast Guard had completed safety inspections. But that will be delayed until the council meets again.

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