Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Better Jax May Be Sooner Initiative Could Take Effect Next Month

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Better Jax May Be Sooner Initiative Could Take Effect Next Month

Article excerpt

A Better Jacksonville could be closer than people thought.

One day after Duval County voters approved a half-penny sales-tax hike, city officials said yesterday that a 2,000-mile road resurfacing initiative in Mayor John Delaney's Better Jacksonville Plan could start by next month.

The entire repaving campaign, which will touch about two-thirds of the city's streets, probably will be done in two to three years, said Sam Mousa, the city's deputy chief administrative officer.

"It's a very aggressive schedule, but we believe we can do it," Mousa said.

The paving projects -- and contracts to launch them -- are part of a clockwork of bureaucratic processes that will begin shifting into place now that Tuesday's tax vote is past.

Money for repaving was included in a $750 million bond package of existing revenue that the City Council approved this summer as part of Better Jacksonville. The balance of the plan, $1.5 billion, will be financed by the sales-tax hike.

Panels of City Hall managers responsible for keeping Better Jacksonville on schedule and on budget will meet tomorrow to lay out plans for coordinating the sweeping, 10-year work plan.

And within a few weeks, the Mayor's Office will ask council members to approve a final appropriations bill spelling out budgets for individual projects.

The bill will be more specific than the list used during the tax campaign. For example, where Delaney's plan promised $55 million to upgrade suburban libraries, the appropriations bill will break out dollar amounts to expand specific branches or build new libraries.

Better Jacksonville budgets $1.5 billion for transportation projects, primarily widening crowded roads. In addition to money for suburban libraries, the plan budgets a combined $435 million to build a new main library downtown, a new courthouse, an arena to replace the Jacksonville Coliseum and a baseball park to replace Wolfson Park. …

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