JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Just days after the Jacksonville City Council voted to approve more than $14 million in city funding to phase out failing septic tanks, city leaders are hoping more money may be coming from Tallahassee.
Jacksonville is also requesting $6 million from the state to connect homes that have failing septic tanks to city sewer service instead.
State Sen. Aaron Bean told News4Jax on Thursday that he’s optimistic that lawmakers see septic tank phaseout as a priority and will approve funding not only in Jacksonville but across the state.
Edward Exson has been petitioning the city of Jacksonville to fulfill its promise for decades now. He says his grandchildren and their parents won’t stay with them in his Northside home because of the limitations of his small septic tank.
″When they come to town, when their father brings them to town, they won’t stay with their grandparents,” Exson said. “On account of the septic tanks, it won’t accommodate them.”
Exson is not alone. More than 1,600 other families living in the Biltmore, Christobel and Beverly Hills neighborhoods are waiting for the city of Jacksonville to fulfill its promise.
Bean says Jacksonville residents’ concerns are being discussed in the Florida Capitol. Over the next four weeks, they’ll be debating the city’s request for $6 million in state funds.
“We’ve taken a big step in keeping that budget step alive, there is money on the line that keeps that proposal open and open for consideration,” Bean said.
Bean says senators hope to finalize the state budget next week. He says it’s unlikely Jacksonville will be approved for its full $6 million request, but he’s optimistic about the city getting some funding. Bean says legislators fully understand the environmental impact of failing septic tanks.
“Septic tank failure is more and more prevalent not only in Jacksonville but across the state, so there are more and more senators and their cities also advocating in their city for similar projects,” Bean said.
Jacksonville’s septic tank phaseout program is also receiving $12.5 million from JEA.
Earlier this year, the city announced that it couldn’t complete the project in the three identified neighborhoods because the cost to replace the septic tanks was higher than the original estimates, so the city continues to look for the needed funding.