Mayor Curry, council members pitch gas-tax/infrastructure plan as ‘Jobs for Jax’

6-cents per gallon increase would raise nearly $1 billion over 30 years

Mayor Lenny Curry announces gas tax hike to fund infrastructure improvements in Jacksonville. (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On Thursday, Mayor Lenny Curry, several members of Jacksonville City Council and the CEO of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority formally announced Thursday a plan to fund transportation, drainage and other infrastructure projects to be funded by a nearly $1 billion gas tax increase.

Standing in front of a current road project on Collins Road, Curry called this the “Jobs for Jax” program, Curry said it will not only pay for long-overdue projects, including getting homes off septic tanks.

The tax would amount to 6-cents per gallon -- effectively doubling Duval County’s local option tax on gasoline. But Curry and others noted that Jacksonville has a lower tax rate than Clay, Nassau, Putnam and dozens of other counties across the state.

“The backlog of projects and community needs is substantial. By fully leveraging the gas tax like other major cities in Florida do, we can make substantial progress...” Curry said. “Jobs for Jax is more than a billion dollars of investment in your neighborhoods and your roads and thousands of jobs for Jacksonville.”

News4Jax first reported details of the plan -- a list of $935 million in projects split between the city and the JTA that would be funded by a 30-year hike in the gas tax -- last week. JTA CEO Nat Ford discussed it on last Sunday’s This Week in Jacksonville program and the City Council began discussing the plan on Tuesday.

“There’s no good time for a gas tax,” Council President Tommy Hazouri said. “Yesterday, we should have done it. Tomorrow’s too late.”

Some motorists told News4Jax on Thursday that now, with gas nearing $3 per gallon, is definitely not the right time.

“If there were any way to delay it,” Brenda Frinks said. “I understand that there are reasons for it, like road improvements (and) septic tank improvements that need to be done. I just don’t know if this is the best time to do it. We’re not out of the pandemic. There’s so many other things that could happen.”

How soon would the gas tax go up?

Curry is expected to present the legislation to City Council next month, which could pass it as soon as May. The tax increase could take effect as soon as the bill is signed into law and many of the projects it will fund would be included in next year’s budget.

About the Authors:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.