JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There were a lot of questions but few answers when the Jacksonville City Council met Wednesday to discuss a proposal to double the city’s gas tax.
During the meeting, council members weighed the implications of Mayor Lenny Curry’s proposal, which would raise the gas tax from 6 to 12 cents a gallon to pay for major transportation projects and other infrastructure improvements.
Of the 10 amendments under consideration, only one was voted on.
The City Council voted 16-2 to trim $132 million that would have been allocated for an expansion of the Skyway into downtown Jacksonville. That doesn’t include another $247 million that could be used to overhaul the Skyway.
Councilwoman LeAnna Cumber, who’s been outspoken about the tax, had plenty to say. She said federal funding Jacksonville is set to receive could be used to pay for many of the city’s most pressing needs, such as the septic tank phase-out.
“We could do that without raising taxes,” said Cumber, noting that there are other funding sources available. “ ... I’m having a real hard time understanding why we are raising taxes.”
The proposal to raise the gas tax was supposed to receive a final vote on May 25. But with some council members saying they’d like to seek more public input, it’s likely that date could change.
Specifically, council members said they’d like to hold town hall meetings, like the meeting held Wednesday evening by Councilman Ron Salem at the Regency Square Branch Library in Arlington.
Those attending the meeting met in-person or by Zoom, and heard from the mayor’s office and from the JTA. Attendees asked questions about the proposed tax and about specific projects the tax money collected would help.
The council is scheduled to meet once again next Wednesday to discuss the proposal and amendments.
Raising the gas tax would require a majority vote by the council. A final vote could happen later this month or sometime in June.