Gas tax bill to spotlight Wednesday morning’s special City Council meeting

Tuesday evening town hall considered additional feedback from public

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ahead of a special forum to discuss a proposed local option gas tax in Duval County, the Jacksonville City Council on Tuesday heard from members of the public during a town hall meeting at City Hall.

On Wednesday, the bill is expected to go to a full vote during a special meeting of the committee-of-the-whole on the proposed increase. Council last Wednesday voted down an amendment that would have put the 6-cent hike to a voter referendum.

The plan would be to increase the local gas tax from 6 cents to 12 cents to pay for transportation projects and infrastructure improvements.

“This gas tax would focus on helping underserved communities,” said Carnell Oliver, who is for the tax increase. “The emerald trail would create opportunities.”

City Council has approved amendments to include $132 million for the Emerald Trail and to set aside $250 million in gas tax spending for direct contracting to local small, emerging or disadvantaged businesses.

‘We’ve got subdivisions going up which means the cost of developing infrastructure is going up,” one person told the Council. “You’ve got to pay for that stuff.”

Council voted 16-2 to trim $132 million from the bill that would have been allocated to expand the JTA’s Skyway. The bill still includes $247 million in funding that could be used to overhaul the Skyway.

“We do have big projects, but I think the money should go elsewhere,” someone opposed to the bill told Council.

“I’m definitely a strong no,” Councilman Rory Diamond told News4Jax.

It will require 11 votes to pass and voting to move the bill to a full Council vote does not ensure those same members will actually vote to raise the gas tax. Members last week voted 13-6 in favor of advancing the bill to a full vote.