Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

GACC against Proposal Delaney Plan Causing Strife

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

GACC against Proposal Delaney Plan Causing Strife

Article excerpt

In an exact reversal from a straw poll taken a month ago, members of the Greater Arlington Civic Council said Thursday they would oppose Mayor John Delaney's Better Jacksonville Plan if they voted on the proposal now.

The straw poll, with only 7 voting for the proposal and 14 voting against it, came after former Jacksonville City Councilman John Draper, president of Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County, urged defeat of the plan, which would be financed by a half-cent increase in the sales tax. Voters will get to cast ballots for real on the plan Sept. 5.

"Mayor Delaney is selling this as a transportation plan," Draper said, "because he knew the voters would not approve a new tax to build a courthouse."

Draper detailed reasons that his organization opposes the proposal.

He said people pay enough in local taxes now, including the 1989 half-cent "tax for tolls" the voters approved to remove tolls from roads and bridges. That tax was to be used to retire the bonds to which the tolls were pledged. The City Council in 1986 imposed a 6-cent gasoline tax that was to last 10 years to finance road improvements. But that tax was extended by the council at the urging of Mayor Ed Austin until 2016.

"So we already have two local taxes that are supposed to finance transportation projects," Draper said.

He said the real reason for the Better Jacksonville Plan is to finance four new buildings -- a county courthouse, main library, arena to replace the Coliseum and a new baseball park.

"We feel the new arena and baseball park should be financed by ticket revenue, not a sales tax," Draper said, "and we believe the courthouse could be renovated at less expense than building a new one."

Jacksonville City Councilwoman Lynette Self, who was present at the civic council meeting in the Regency Square branch library, chided Draper that the Better Jacksonville Plan has more in it than just the new downtown buildings.

"It has money for sewers, for the environment, for parks," Self said. …

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