Brown quickly followed his proposed 2013-14 City budget, which includes no funds for resurfacing of existing city roads, with an announcement that he wants to end the 6-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax when it expires in August 2016.
Brown's zero dollars to fill potholes and repave or repair roads will be damaging to many Jacksonville neighborhoods. There is no question it will have a negative impact on business development.
Council has given a strong indication it plans to restore road funds in this year's budget by rejecting Brown's "no tax increase" pledge with a vote to hike property taxes by as much as 15 percent.
Based on a vote by the Council Finance Committee, one way to beef up road funds this year could be to reallocate a $9 million fund it earlier committed to the Downtown Investment Authority and another $2 million targeted for countywide economic development.
In addition, Council President Bill Gulliford wants to put the gasoline tax extension on the table for a vote during his term, even though it is still three years before the tax is set to expire.
Since 1986, the gasoline tax has been a critical source of revenue to build and maintain local roads.
First proposed as a 10-year revenue source by Mayor Jake Godbold, the tax was considered important enough to be extended by Mayor Ed Austin in 1991 through 2016.
Until recently, Brown had taken no position on the future of the tax, wanting to wait until after his campaign for re-election in 2015.
His recent announcement simply confirmed the widely held assumption that he would oppose extending the tax since he has taken such a hard stand against increasing taxes.
Of course, the gasoline tax is not a new tax, nor has anyone suggested raising it beyond 6 cents. State law permits the tax to be as high as 12 cents per gallon.
Brown should embrace the extension and tell taxpayers why it is so important, instead of discarding it.
In March, I wrote that if Brown does not recommend extending the gasoline tax, it made me think that he doesn't believe where Jacksonville is headed in the future, the City will need to build and maintain roads.
As Brown gears up for his re-election campaign, some view the pronouncement against an extension as a tactic to loudly proclaim his political stance.
I think displaying leadership is a better tactic. Jacksonville voters want that more now than ever.
The tax is only paid by people driving on our roads. That includes thousands upon thousands of visitors who pass through Duval County and have to purchase gasoline.
It's also naïve to think that removing the tax will lower the price of gasoline in Jacksonville.
Oil companies and retailers will make sure we continue to pay about the same amount per gallon as residents in our neighboring counties, but those counties will have a local gas tax to build and maintain roads and highways and improve transportation.
SOE decision looms large for Brown
My guess is the mayor and his staff are more than anxious for newly hired City Council liaison Teresa Eichner to start work and help Brown maneuver his agenda through the Council.
Eichner begins her job with the administration on Aug. 19.
It seems the second Council meeting of its year Tuesday could be a third-straight legislative defeat for Brown.
In its first meeting two weeks ago, the Council rejected Brown's pension reform plan and voted to set a tentative increase in property taxes, ignoring Brown's strong opposition.
Next is a decision on a debate that's been contentious for months.
Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland, Brown and Council members have been reviewing and debating whether to move the elections center and warehouse operation out of Gateway Shopping Center to a new location.
Three development groups maneuvered and negotiated to be selected for the site.
A final decision will come down to a debate between the current address at Gateway, which is favored by Brown, or a site at One Imeson Center in North Jacksonville, which is favored by Holland.
There is an obvious difference of sentiment among Council members.
The issue was heard in three Council committees, with the first two splitting — Rules voted for Imeson, while the Transportation, Energy and Utilities Committee picked Gateway.
Then, the Finance Committee ended the committee deadlock, selecting Imeson in a 5-4 vote.
Now, many are wondering if a final Council vote for Imeson will further diminish Brown's influence with Council members. Or, perhaps a vote for Gateway will provide Brown a boost.
No nuke for Duke
If you have ever been miffed about an issue with the Jacksonville Electric Authority, keep in mind you could be a customer of Duke Energy.
The utility took advantage of a 2006 law passed by the state Legislature that allows utilities to charge customers in advance for building a nuclear power plant. Duke has spent most of the $1.5 billion collected from its customers on a nuclear project in Levy County.
Customers now have nothing to show for that investment because Duke has canceled plans for the $24.7 billion nuclear facility after collecting the money from customers.
Florida law allows power companies to keep the funds collected up front, even if the project is canceled.
As a result, Duke will be able to pocket $150 million in profits.
The decision not to build a nuclear plant in Levy County closely follows a Duke decision to close the old, broken down nuclear plant in Crystal River.
Now, to further stick it to Duke's customers, the Florida Public Service Commission has voted to allow the utility to increase its rates 89 cents a month for the average rate payer to pay for the closed Crystal River plant. That rate increase starts in January and continues for seven years.
Because of the 2006 law, it also looks like Florida Power & Light will be able to receive advance funding from its customers to construct two nuclear reactors at Turkey Point.
Scheu back in action
Attorney Bill Scheu flashed a rare public display of displeasure when Council blew up Brown's pension reform bill before Scheu's pension reform task force could even really start.
After the Council vote, Scheu declared his Brown-appointed task force would disband.
Now, Scheu is back at the table and the task force is set to meet this month.
Originally, the group was to contemplate the fiscal soundness of Brown's pension deal in advance of a Council vote. What the task force actually will do is still up in the air.
One issue is for sure and it has not changed: Jacksonville must fix its gigantic pension crisis.
Certainly, the Scheu-led task force can do no harm. The problem isn't resolved and it will have to be addressed at some point.
Maybe Scheu's group can work with stakeholders and provide the administration and Council with a solution when the time comes.
Beaches showing leadership ranks
Has anyone noticed that both the Council and the Duval County School Board are led by a pair of Beaches residents?
How often has that happened?
Fred "Fel" Lee, an engineer and former Neptune Beach Council member and vice mayor, leads the school board.
And, of course, Bill Gulliford, City Council president, is a former Atlantic Beach mayor.
If Mayor Alvin Brown has his way, Jacksonville might soon become known as "Potholeville."