Funds sought for transition to consolidation
History often repeats, and there often are parallels between the news of today and 50 years ago. Here are some of the top news stories of this week in 1967 compiled from the Jacksonville Public Library’s periodical archives by Associate Editor Max Marbut.
The Jacksonville-Duval Area Planning Board asked the City Commission for $60,000 to begin studies for the transition to consolidated government.
Although commissioners seemed to be generally in favor of the proposal, action was deferred until further consideration of the next city budget.
Commissioner Richard Burroughs said that although he did not oppose the Planning Board undertaking the studies, he questioned whether the city should bear the full cost. “I believe the taxpayers of the whole county should bear this, not just the taxpayers in the city,” he said.
Mayor Hans Tanzler said he had been told that $60,000 was about one-third of the cost for such studies in other cities that had moved into another type of government.
Commissioner Henry Broadstreet said that if studies were not undertaken as quickly as possible, there would be “chaos in the transition” and “it’s going to take a lot of planning.”
Godbold calls for ambulance service survey
City Council member Jake Godbold recommended a survey to seek an answer to the city’s and county’s recurring problems with ambulance service.
“I want to know if we have the best ambulance service possible,” Godbold told a group of city and county police officials and ambulance operators. He and council member Johnny Sanders had called the group together to hear Charles Futch from Cocoa Beach, president of the Florida Ambulance Association, outline a proposal for a community survey aimed at providing ambulance service throughout Duval County.
The meeting at City Hall was frequently interrupted by heated exchanges between the ambulance firm owners, who accused each other of inadequate service and trying to beat each other to accident scenes to pick up victims.
Futch said the association was a nonprofit with personnel available to complete a survey in Jacksonville in about two weeks at minimal cost — between $500 and $1,000.
Futch also said Duval County might follow the practice advised by the state association that already was in place in other counties: one firm should be franchised by competitive bidding to handle all accidents and indigent patient calls. Under such a program, the community would be eligible for matching federal assistance up to 50 percent, he said.
Police Chief R.C. Blanton said there had been continuing problems with ambulance service over a period of years. He noted that when funeral homes withdrew competitive ambulance service several years before, a zone system was worked out where private ambulance companies were assigned specific areas.
That plan fell through when the ambulance operators said they were losing money. At that point, the city Fire Department took over ambulance service “and did a terrific job,” but that plan was withdrawn because of the expense to the city, Blanton said.
“You’ve got problems in Jacksonville today, and you might as well wake up and realize it,” Futch said.
Commission expands anti-poverty program
The Duval County Commission was willing to put up $75,000 to get $675,000 in federal grants for the local anti-poverty program.
On the motion of Commissioner Bob Harris, the board voted unanimously to put $75,000 in the proposed budget for 1967-68 for Greater Jacksonville Economic Opportunity Inc. The Duval County Budget Commission would have the final say on whether the money was appropriated.
Harris told his colleagues the Legislature had authorized the city and county to each earmark $75,000 for the program.
“I realize we’re strapped for funds in the coming year’s budget, but I don’t know of any appropriation that could be better spent,” Harris said.
He told his colleagues that anti-poverty programs assisted in moving people from the welfare rolls into positions of self-sufficiency, thereby helping them to become taxpayers.
“Currently, programs are funded on the basis of 90 percent federal and 10 percent local funds,” he added. “To date, GJEO has brought into Duval County $5,503,866.”
In other action, Commissioner Bill Basford, County Engineer John Crosby and Assistant County Attorney Thomas Oakley were named to a committee to confer with the city Water Department on setting up a county Public Works Department to administer regulation of water and sewer firms in the unincorporated areas.