JTA CEO: Gas tax increase for new infrastructure ‘critical for our community’

Jacksonville Transportation Authority CEO Nat Ford. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This week, the city unveiled a monumental and potentially transformative proposal for a gas tax increase to help address infrastructure needs in Duval County.

The tax — which would double the local gas tax from 6 to 12 cents per gallon — would generate nearly a billion dollars over 25 years. That income would be split between the city and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority and be used for both road and other projects, including transportation, paying for septic tank replacement and other unfunded city projects.

DOCUMENT: Itemized list of $930 million in infrastructure projects

JTA CEO Nat Ford said on “This Week in Jacksonville” that getting money for the citywide projects is “critical for our community.”

“When you start looking at great cities, great cities have great transportation. We’ve done very well over the years in terms of the programs and infrastructure we’ve built up until this point, but if we look over the next 30 years, there is some significant needs that need to be addressed in terms of transportation,” Ford said. “It’s the right time, and the time is now.”

Among JTA’s plans for the money would be various road projects, changes to the Skyway system and spending $16 million to buy a second ferry for A1A at Mayport.

Ford said a gas tax is the best way to fund the city’s infrastructure needs because it acts as a “user fee.” Clay County and Nassau County already have a 12-cent gas tax, Ford said.

“It’s going directly to transportation projects, so I think there’s a direct line edge between the source and the actual use in terms of gas tax,” Ford said.

Ford said the political side of getting the majority of Jacksonville City Council on board with the plan will be a challenge.

Council members say doubling the gas tax is going to fuel a lot of debate, particularly at this time during the pandemic and with prices on the rise anyway. But Ford said the mayor showed courage and leadership moving forward with the plan.

The plan would likely be voted on this summer before next year’s budget is debated.

You can hear more from Ford about the proposal, as well as hear from new JEA CEO Jay Stowe about the future of the public utility, on “This Week in Jacksonville” Sunday at 9 a.m. on Channel 4 and at noon on CW17.

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