Mayor insists half-cent for pension debt isn't a new tax

Legislature passes, governor signs bill to allow tax to be used for pensions


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As Mayor Lenny Curry prepares to ask City Council to schedule a referendum in either August or November for voters to consider a half-cent sales tax that would pay down Jacksonville's nearly $3 billion pension debt, he continues to insist that it is not a new tax, merely an extension and repurposing of the Better Jacksonville Plan passed by voters in 2000.

"We have a source of revenue that exists right now," Curry said. "It exists right now through 2030. ... There will be no additional tax burden on the people of Jacksonville."

Curry continued: "Look (at) the other option ... to raise the millage rate. People said that's the only way to solve this. I said it on the campaign and I stand before you today, and that's the wrong way forward.”

News4Jax pointed out that in 2000, promises were made that the half-cent tax would sunset in 2030. If approved by voters, the tax would run from 2030-2060 and the money would fund pension payments.

"It is an extension of the tax," Curry said. "I will sell this I believe that the voters are going to follow me down this road because I'm shooting them straight. Because I'm looking (them) right in the eye and I am saying, 'This is the problem we have to solve.' They are tired of politicians making empty promises that we can be all things to all people and end up in the situation again.  I am the guy, once and for all, that's proposing a solution that can solve this issue."

Former Mayor John Delaney, who promised when the half-cent tax passed that it would end in 2030, said it's a matter of semantics.

Curry said he will work with City Council to schedule a referendum for either August or November and will be the city's No. 1 salesman to convince voters.

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