Jacksonville mayor’s budget to include upgrades to roads, parks

Mayor Lenny Curry’s staff preparing his budget, which will be released later this month

News4JAX is learning more about how Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry wants to spend your tax dollars on various city projects next year.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – News4JAX is learning more about how Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry wants to spend your tax dollars on various city projects next year.

And it looks like the city has much more of that money available than in years past — in fact, about $100 million more because of increased property values.

Curry has big plans for Jacksonville’s upcoming capital improvement budget. That’s the money for big projects — not the day-to-day operations of the city.

Most of this budget has to do with infrastructure — the things we may not see or notice and what the mayor says has been neglected in the past

Curry’s budget will be released later this month. It is set to include upgrades to roads and parks.

“Massive investment,” Curry told News4JAX on Thursday morning, when he launched the Jacksonville Community Land Trust as one solution to the affordable housing issue. “We can get you specifics in the days ahead. I think you will see even more of that later today. It’s approximately a half-billion dollars in infrastructure. I would remind people that the year before I took office, the city’s infrastructure CIP (capital improvement plan) was $20 million. So about a half-billion (dollars) — parks, sidewalks, roads, septic tanks — every corner of the city, we are investing in much-needed infrastructure.”

The News4JAX I-TEAM has been investigating the septic tank replacement for several years, and in Curry’s plan, he is looking to again spend millions to connect homes to city sewer service instead and move ahead with a five-year plan that could run nearly $115 million. He also wants to spend $86 million on drainage improvements.

In his budget, Curry also wants to see one new fire station built and seven others renovated.

This will be Curry’s last budget, and normally with past administrations, we’ve seen major projects from outgoing mayors.

During Curry’s administration, the city has seen buildings come down — like the Jacksonville Landing, the old Duval County Courthouse and the Berkman Plaza II. News4JAX asked him if we’re going to see anything built up.

“Look, we’ve got about $2 billion in projects happening in and around downtown right now — $2 billion. We saw the old Berkman came down recently. The owner of that property plans on building the tallest building in Jacksonville there. Heavy investment where the Jacksonville Landing used to be. The city’s going to have a heavy investment there and park space, and then obviously there will also be a vertical building there that’s being negotiated with a private developer and the DIA (Downtown Investment Authority),” Curry said. “So we’ve got about 7,500 people living downtown now. That’s double the number when I took office. So we’re making great progress.”

The old Landing site, now Riverfront Plaza, is one area the mayor’s budget will focus on to begin upgrades for a new park and building. But there will be other items for improvements up and down the river, from tying in all of the proposed downtown parks to protecting the area from flooding.

On Thursday afternoon, members of the mayor’s staff were laying out their plan about what they want to see happen with the tax dollars. The mayor will present his plan on July 21 to the Jacksonville City Council. It will be up to council members to approve it.

The total budget is $1.5 billion. And that is only city money. Curry’s staffer told News4JAX that we will find out how they plan to spend $170 million that Jacksonville is receiving from the federal government in the American recovery funds that are going to each city. They would not release any details of that on Thursday.

About the Author:

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