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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Aug. 21, 200712:00 PM EST

Peyton: When running City government, there's no free lunch

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by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

by Max Marbut

Staff Writer

At Monday’s weekly Rotary Club meeting, Mayor John Peyton explained how the City is similar to a business.

“This city is like a business. We cannot continue to run the business without investing money in it,” he said. “We have needs and we deserve the investment.

“This is the time to step up and put back in the coffers what politicians in Tallahassee have taken out.”

Peyton also said he thinks the budget process comes down to what he called a “simple question.”

“What kind of city do we want to live in? I want to live in a city that invests in its parks and in its infrastructure and in public safety. I don’t want to give people an excuse not to live here.”

He said he believes the City is at a crossroads and faced with tough decisions mandated by actions taken in the State capital and Washington, D.C. and new fees will be a fact of life if Jacksonville is to continue to progress as a city.

In addition to property tax reform enacted by the legislature, Peyton said the City is also contending with “Total Maximum Daily Load” – a federal law that limits how much runoff water can go into the St. Johns River each day. Also in Jacksonville’s future is a requirement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that will require the City to clean up ash sites that have existed since the time when garbage was burned and the ash from incinerators was used as fill dirt in low-income neighborhoods all over the county. The soil will have to be removed and replaced with soil that is not toxic.

“That will be a major challenge and we don’t know how much it will cost,” said Peyton.

He concluded by urging the Rotary Club members to contact their Council members and said, “It’s painful to go through the budget. The City Council is in a tough spot. Let them know investing in Jacksonville’s future is important.”

Next week, the Rotary Club’s guest speaker will be Property Appraiser Jim Overton. The recent changes to Florida’s Homestead Exemption and the impact on the City’s revenues will again be the topic of discussion.

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