City Council on Tuesday approved transferring $11 million into accounts for Downtown and Duval County economic development.
The Downtown Investment Authority would have access to $9 million and the remaining $2 million would be used by the City Office of Economic Development for countywide projects.
The vote was 17-1, with Council member Robin Lumb voting against it. Council member Greg Anderson was excused.
Mayor Alvin Brown proposed the $9 million for the authority to use for Downtown's revitalization.
The money comes from City savings from refinancing the City's more than $1 billion in bonds.
Until the authority hires an executive director and presents a Downtown development plan that Council approves, Council will retain oversight of how the $9 million is spent.
Authority Chair Donald Harris said last week the development plan could be completed by the end of the year and the executive director search could conclude within 120 days.
Council member Matt Schellenberg proposed two amendments Tuesday, but neither received a second to be discussed on the floor.
The first would have required the authority to report to Council how it uses the funds. The second would have allocated $150,000 for each Council district to use for park maintenance and improvements. The 14 districts would have taken $2.1 million.
Several Council members cautioned the $9 million could be later used for other purposes.
Council member Ray Holt said that during budget discussions later this year, he would have a "strong tendency" to use the funds to offset any potential millage increase or service cuts.
Lumb said he supported Downtown, but wanted a plan before allocating the money.
Council member Clay Yarborough and Richard Clark also called for a plan.
"Without a plan, without a CEO, I will not vote for a single appropriation," Clark said.
Authority Vice Chair Oliver Barakat cautioned the Council Finance Committee last week that naming specific projects in a plan could inflate real estate values.
Barakat told the committee a special meeting could be scheduled to determine the authority's priorities and plan.
The authority will meet at 2 p.m. March 20 at City Hall. No agenda has been set. for that meeting.