Group pushes Jacksonville City Council to extend gas tax

Tax used for bus, road projects set to expire in 2016

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A local group called Building the Future is running a television ad asking Jacksonville residents to tell the City Council to extend the gas tax now.

The 6 cents a gallon tax is set to expire in 2016. The Jacksonville Transportation Authority uses most of the tax to fund bus and road projects.

Paul McCormick, who runs an ad agency, is a member of Building the Future and said there is no question why the tax is needed.

"I think it's real simple," he said. "Go out and look at the street in front of your house, your building. Driving down the streets of Jacksonville, I think that will help you make up your mind that this is mandatory."

Most Jacksonville City Council members attended a joint committee meeting Wednesday, where they spent the entire afternoon talking about the tax.

Most of the discussion centered on why extending the tax is needed now, and JTA officials explained what will happen if the extension does not pass.

"If this local gas tax is not extended, there will be drastic cuts in core bus services," JTA official Ed Burr said. "Fixed routes and connection service and senior service."

Since there are two years before the tax expires, council member Stephen Joost is asking why it must be extended now.

He pointed to changes in ways motorists use gas and said it won't generate as much money as in the past, but his ideas where dismissed by most council members.

The council was given a list of 33 road projects that could be funded by the tax, which would bring about $30 million a year. Those projects could begin once the tax extension is approved.

Council President Bill Gulliford started the push to extend the tax, but he made it clear Wednesday that his small construction equipment company would not profit from it.

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