There’s not much support for JEA to increase its annual contribution to help pay down the city’s pension obligations, as proposed by Mayor Alvin Brown, if it results in a rate increase, according to a University of North Florida poll released today.
JEA officials have said giving more money to the city as Brown has proposed would likely lead to a rate hike; the mayor contends it would not.
Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the 502 Jacksonville residents surveyed were asked whether they supported the utility giving more to the pension issue if it might bring higher electric rates. Twenty-five percent supported it.
Most residents don’t support a small property tax increase dedicated to reducing the $.1.7 billion pension liability, either. Fifty-six percent were against an increase compared to 39 percent who supported it.
The poll also showed support for extending the 6-cent gas tax (52 percent), which has been proposed by Council President Bill Gulliford. Brown has been opposed to the extension.
In addition, there was an increase in support to add sexual orientation to groups protected from workplace discrimination. Last February, 58 percent polled supported the move; this year, the support increased to 65 percent.
There was also a slight change from last year in what the city’s top priority should be. In 2013, the top three answers were improving the economy and creating jobs (37 percent), improving public education (24 percent) and reducing crime (13 percent). This year, those same issues made the top three, but in a different order and with different percentages: improving public education (27 percent), improving the economy and creating jobs (26 percent) and reducing crime (20 percent).
The poll was conducted Feb. 10-17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.37 percentage points.