Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Yes Vote on Tax Secures a Bright Future

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Yes Vote on Tax Secures a Bright Future

Article excerpt

There are several good reasons to support the special sales tax to pay the city's unfunded pension debt.

It is a complete solution.

It can only be used for this purpose. It ends when the debt is fully funded or 2060, whichever comes first.

But the best reason to support the sales tax is that it is better than the alternatives.

Many would like a sales tax to start now. But the governor and the Legislature would never support it. It took all of Mayor Lenny Curry's political skills to achieve passage of this special option.

The most likely other option would be an increase in the property tax. But property taxes have several significant flaws:

- First, property taxes cannot be devoted to just one cause. A future City Council could tamper with it. Is that a risk you want to take?

- Also property taxes will not collect revenue from commuters and visitors. They also benefit from police and fire protection. They ought to contribute.

- Property taxes hit small businesses harder than homeowners. In Duval County, there is not only an exemption for homeowners but a special one for low-income and elderly homeowners.

- Viewed in isolation, a property tax increase for pensions doesn't appear like such a big deal. But put it in context: A citizens task force to the sheriff supports a property tax increase for public safety. Jacksonville also has other big needs, such as fully funding the Jacksonville Journey, replacing failing septic tanks, funding port deepening, replacing library hours -the list is long.

The local economy cannot support funding all of these needs mostly with property taxes.

Diversifying revenue is good business.


For those who don't want to delay paying the unfunded pension debt till after 2030, we understand. But don't do away with the sales tax. A small property tax increase is always available to pay down pension debt in competition with all the other city priorities.

Like a homeowner paying a mortgage early, it's a great idea when it's possible. The key is to have both sources of funding. And at least the sales tax option would be secure.

Here's another point to keep in mind: Taking too much medicine too fast can also bad for a patient. Our local economy isn't that far removed from the Great Recession.


Some African-American community leaders have demanded promises of action by Curry in return for support of the pension sales tax.

But it is unfair to blame Curry for the history of broken promises made to Jacksonville's Northwest neighborhoods.

Understandably, Curry is reluctant to make promises without guaranteed funding and without going through the right procedures.

Yet Curry has been walking the walk in his one year in office.

Besides his well-known activism to help residents of Eureka Garden, the Curry administration has an impressive list of achievements in a short time period:

Here are just a few:

- $1. …

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