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City Council member Richard Clark
Jax Daily Record Monday, Aug. 4, 201412:00 PM EST

Council approves same millage despite push to increase, sales tax discussed

by: David Chapman

Homeowners likely won’t see an increase in their millage rate this year.

City Council on Monday passed a tentative rate that will mirror last year’s 11.44 mills, despite a late push by one member to bump it up almost one mill to cover pension liability.

Council member Richard Clark pitched the idea of increasing the rate 0.8826, up to 12.3226. The higher rate would bring in about $40 million more a year, which Clark said should be applied toward the city’s biggest issue moving forward.

A pension deal reached in June by Mayor Alvin Brown and the Police and Fire Pension Fund calls for the city to contribute $40 million above what is legally required.

However, there is no identified, dedicated funding source that Clark said is needed before council begins its deliberations on the deal.

Under his proposal, the increased millage would cover that. It also would have taken about $60 million the fund is offering from its reserves to the city to offset liability payments. But, instead of that, Clark proposed it could be used for the budget as a way for the fund to be committed.

He also said that if the pension deal was scrapped by council later, the millage could return to its current rate. Members talked for more than hour about the idea, but it failed by a 12-6 vote.

Instead, there was more talk about a half-cent sales tax for infrastructure. If that passed, the money in the budget for infrastructure could be shifted to unfunded liability. The sales tax money would replace that.

Council member Bill Gulliford has scheduled at 4 p.m. Tuesday meeting to explore the sales tax possibility.

With the approved rate, homeowners with a Jacksonville home valued at $150,000 with a taxable value of $100,000 would pay $1,144 for the year.

If council were to later change its mind and increase the rate, new notices would have to be issued, costing hundreds of thousands.


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