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The Lady L is one of two boats purchased by the city.
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jun. 12, 201412:00 PM EST

Water taxis purchased by city still haven't arrived in town

by: David Chapman

After expectations the two boats the city purchased for water-taxi service would be in Jacksonville and inspected by Wednesday, neither has arrived as of this morning.

The city purchased the Lady L and Sea Charm I last week from Tavares-based Trident Pontoons for about $338,000, which includes $6,000 in transportation costs.

The purchase was made as an emergency in an attempt to continue water-taxi service last weekend without a lapse, but needed Coast Guard inspections pushed the anticipated start date to this weekend.

It’s now anticipated the smaller vessel, the Sea Charm I, will arrive today, said Pam Roman, a city spokeswoman. As for the larger Lady L, Roman said she was unsure of when it would arrive.

She attributed the problem to a miscommunication on how much time was needed to transport large boats. The Sea Charm I seats 50 people, the Lady L has a 102-passenger capacity.

Although the city has paid for the boats, it was an unauthorized purchase, an assistant general counsel told City Council members Tuesday.

Shortly after, council members had a spirited discussion about whether the decision was an emergency before voting against taking up appropriating the purchase from the banking fund, thus making it still unauthorized. Expenditures from the banking fund must be pre-approved by council.

Karen Bowling, city chief operating officer, said the city team would need to analyze its options as to the next steps in the ordeal. She was not available yesterday or this morning to answer questions about what the team had decided.

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