Mayor Alvin Brown's budget increases garbage fees downtown

Business owner claims new fees are unfair

JACKSONVILLE - A big part of Alvin Brown's platform when he was campaigning for mayor of Jacksonville was to restore the social scene in the downtown. But new downtown business owner Cameron Beard said he's getting a different message from the mayor's budget.

One of Beard's concerns are trash fees that business owners will face when the mayor's budget faces final approval Tuesday night in City Council.

"They are going to charge you on top of what you already pay to come down here, which seems counteractive to trying to have businesses come down here," said Beard, who owns Underbelly.

Like any business owner, Beard understands the importance of a balanced budget. But paying almost $2,000 more a year for a service he planned on having for free, puts a dent in his balanced budget, Beard said.

Mayor Brown's original plan was to cut out downtown pick-up completely However, a city spokesman told Channel 4 Monday night: "After downtown business owners expressed concern about the initial elimination of City Downtown garbage pick-up, the administration met with them to address this issue, a meeting assisted by Downtown Vision Inc.

As the Times-Union has reported, the business owners at that meeting 'resoundingly wanted' to keep the service near the current level. They asked the city to charge a higher fee in order to avoid losing city garbage collection. We agreed to their request."

When the only other option is no collection at all, Beard said he doesn't think it's a fair choice. If the city council passes the budget as is, Beard will be paying an extra $16.70 per month to keep garbage from piling up.

"It'd have been nice to know before we came down here," said Beard. "I mean what next, what else are they going to start charging for?"

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