Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville Leaders Show Statesmanship and Citizenship Can Solve Problems

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville Leaders Show Statesmanship and Citizenship Can Solve Problems

Article excerpt

Byline: Frank Denton

Contrast the statesmanship and courage of 117 W. Duval St. to that other seat of government 711 miles north over the past couple of months, and you may feel pretty good about where your town is heading, if not your nation.

The northern comparison is to our national Capitol, where the Republicans and Democrats in Congress continue to embarrass themselves - and us - with phony filibusters, futile bills, posturing for politics, gaming our economy and utterly failing at their jobs, while still accepting their paychecks.

On the other hand, at City Hall, some of our elected and volunteer leaders showed their commitment to the community and its future by working hard at democratic engagement, balancing needs and priorities, then making some tough, painful choices.

You'll get an opportunity to have a say in these decisions going forward.

The buckle-down began July 23, when the City Council made two huge decisions.

One was to open the possibility of a relatively modest property-tax-rate increase to stave off the continued deterioration of public services proposed in Mayor Alvin Brown's budget. Wednesday, the council adopted a budget that used most of that fiscal flexibility to maintain the city's quality of life.

In a time and place where "tax increase" or even "no tax cut" amounts to almost a deadly third rail of politics, the council voted 16-2 to raise the tax on a typical homesteaded $150,000 home by about $140 - for which you will get police, fire, crime-prevention, library and children's services continued at this year's levels.

It'll cost you only a few bucks a week, but even that took some courage by the council.

The second major decision July 23 was when the council soundly rejected Brown's proposed pension-reform plan because, while it helped the budget for a year or two, it committed the city to many more years of escalating pension costs, necessitating even more tax increases or slashes in our quality of life. …

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