Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fulfill the Promises of Consolidation

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fulfill the Promises of Consolidation

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Hand

Aug. 8, 1967, was a watershed moment for Jacksonville.

Faced with government corruption, fiscal instability and disaccredited schools, Duval County citizens voted to consolidate county and city governments into a single city of Jacksonville. The vote created what is now the largest city by area in the contiguous United States and the 12th largest by population.

The best-known chronicle of consolidation is Richard Martin's book "A Quiet Revolution." It quotes former Mayor Hans Tanzler as saying that consolidated government was "the salvation" that prevented "absolute rubble and shambles."

This landmark consolidation decision was also praised as a model of good government and municipal innovation.

Consolidation has undoubtedly produced benefits. As former General Counsel Rick Mullaney described in a 2009 Metro Jacksonville column, one advantage is efficiency. "We don't have 35 Public Works Departments."

Another virtue is accountability. Our estimated 930,000 residents have a single government to hold responsible for its actions.

But many residents reasonably question whether an initiative designed to unite Jacksonville has actually produced a tale of two cities. In 2013-2014, a City Council-established task force reviewed the status of consolidated government. In their final report, the members found that the promise of consolidation has gone largely unfulfilled in certain parts of Jacksonville (website: tinyurl.com/y9kvqhm2).

"As the task force investigated the needs of neighborhoods, it became clear that in many older neighborhoods that were part of the former city, promises were made to gain the residents' support for the consolidation of county and city governments. Included in these promises were paved roads, streetlights, water and sewer lines and flood prevention.

"Today, there are miles of unpaved roads, hundreds if not thousands of homes and many businesses that do not have water lines available and a similar number using septic tanks due to a lack of sewer service. …

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