Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sidewalks to Get Repairs from City, but Funds in Doubt

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sidewalks to Get Repairs from City, but Funds in Doubt

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Galnor, Times-Union staff writer

*******************CORRECTION August 26, 2003

A total of $398,745 has been spent to repair Jacksonville sidewalks since Oct. 1. Because of incorrect information provided by the city Public Works Department, the amount was incorrect in a story on Page B-1 yesterday.

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Jacksonville is set to take over responsibility for repairing its sidewalks, though some City Council members are questioning whether the new program has enough money to work.

The council is expected to vote tomorrow on starting to pay to fix all cracked and unsafe sidewalks. For more than three decades, Jacksonville -- like the vast majority of cities across the country -- has sent homeowners a bill, forcing them to pay to repair sidewalks abutting their yards or face a lien on their property.

The proposal before the council tomorrow includes $650,000 to start paying for the repairs, beginning Oct. 1.

That number, though, isn't much more than the $565,844 spent on sidewalks in the first 10 months of the current budget year, which ends Sept. 30.

"We set ourselves and the public up for embarrassment if we are not taking care of the problem the way we say we are," council Vice President Elaine Brown said.

The city has paid more than $398,000 for sidewalk repairs this year, mostly for work downtown, and individual homeowners and business owners have kicked in about $167,000.

City officials are expecting more people to start calling for sidewalk repairs now that the city is footing the bill, and some say the demand can't be met with just $650,000.

"People are going to think we're going to be out there to fix it as soon as they call, and we're going to have to let them know that may not happen," Councilman Jerry Holland said. "That's not enough money, and we're going to run out."

Mayor John Peyton said this piece of the funding is just a start but should meet the demand this year.

If not, Peyton says the city has two options: Find more money or postpone projects until the next budget year. Just which direction he would recommend Peyton says depends on the city's financial standing throughout the year. …

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