Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lee Hopes to Trash Garbage Fee Idea; TOO MUCH the Councilwoman Sees the Proposed Fee as Unnecessary. NOT ENOUGH but She Hasn't Offered an Alternative to Recoup Revenue

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lee Hopes to Trash Garbage Fee Idea; TOO MUCH the Councilwoman Sees the Proposed Fee as Unnecessary. NOT ENOUGH but She Hasn't Offered an Alternative to Recoup Revenue

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH KORMANIK

The Jacksonville City Council has taken an initial step to kill Mayor John Peyton's proposed fee on residential garbage pickup, although its unclear how much support it will attract.

Councilwoman Denise Lee will introduce an amendment Monday to scrap the fee, which would cost most residents $5 a month starting in April and increase to $12 monthly by 2014. If residents fail to pay the fee, they could face liens or possibly lose their homes.

"I believe there is a way to not do this fee this year," Lee said.

She didn't suggest a way for the city to recoup the fee's $5.1 million in revenue that Peyton has built into next year's budget.

Further cuts from the Mayor's Office are unlikely.

"If the council determines we should not have a garbage fee, the council would have to identify the expenses that have to be cut," said Adam Hollingsworth, the mayor's policy chief.

As the council gets closer to its Oct. 1 deadline to pass a budget, there is more urgency to act -- and offer compromises -- on the fees Peyton has proposed. In addition to garbage, he also wants a stormwater fee that would cost most homeowners $5 a month and a JEA franchise fee that would add a 3 percent surcharge to utility bills. That fee could be increased to 6 percent with a two-thirds vote of the council.

Councilman Kevin Hyde, who led a subcommittee on the JEA surcharge, said he will introduce an amendment capping the amount the city could collect.

But no one has suggested killing the other fees. Asked if that meant the others were likely to become law, council President Daniel Davis said Thursday, "Obviously I think it's heading in that direction."

Neither has raised the concerns that the garbage fee has.

Lee's proposal came during a subcommittee meeting Wednesday. The two other subcommittee members -- Stephen Joost and Glorious Johnson -- are split on the issue, with Joost supporting some kind of fee and Johnson against any fees. …

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