Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Business Leaders Support New Fees; They Started a Campaign to Support Peyton

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Business Leaders Support New Fees; They Started a Campaign to Support Peyton

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY KELLI PALKA

A group of Jacksonville business leaders believes that when local residents learn more about the city's financial troubles, they'll support the new fees proposed by Mayor John Peyton.

Officers of People for Jacksonville's Future Inc. are so certain of that they've created a marketing and education campaign aimed at urging the City Council to approve the fees in Peyton's proposed $959 million budget for next year.

The group's leaders are Steve Halverson, president of The Haskell Co; John Rood, former U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas; and Ed Burr, president of LandMar Group LLC.

The group filed papers with the state Aug. 3.

Peyton has proposed a new fee for residential garbage pickup and stormwater runoff and a surcharge on electricity, water and sewer bills to make up for lost property tax revenue because of statewide tax reform. In January, voters will get a chance to approve a constitutional amendment that would reduce their property taxes even more.

Peyton estimates that the city lost about $65 million in expected property tax revenue and could lose $100 million if the constitutional amendment passes.

At the group's Web site, helpsaveourcity.com, residents can learn more details about Peyton's plan. They can also find a form letter in support of the budget they can e-mail to each council member.

Halverson said he was talking with local business leaders about the city's financial situation and thought it was "absolutely crucial" that the city no longer rely so heavily on property tax revenue, which the state can control.

He expects the council to make changes to Peyton's proposed budget but supports adoption of the new fees. Halverson said he has no indication that the council is seriously contemplating turning down Peyton's fee proposal or that the mayor won't be able to successfully convince the council on his own to approve his plan. …

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