Mayor Curry announces $160 million local stimulus package

It includes $1,000 direct payments to households that meet certain criteria.

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Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry proposed a $160 million local stimulus program funded from federal coronavirus aid that would provide direct payments to Duval County residents and businesses.

Curry announced April 23 that he will file legislation with the City Council this week to allocate $160 million the city will receive from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

The Jacksonville COVID-19 Relief Program will include $40 million in direct stimulus for individuals for mortgage, rent and utility payments. 

Curry said 40,000 households will receive $1,000 each in relief but they must meet certain criteria.

Eligible applicants must:

 • Be a Duval County resident 

• Make less than $75,000 a year 

• Have lost at least 25% of their income because of the COVID-19

Curry said during his daily virtual news conference that the legislation will be filed April 24. 

Administration officials said the aid money will be “first come, first served” and people will be able to apply online or by phone at 630-CITY.

City Hall is working on an agreement with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority to shuttle residents to file program paperwork in person if they cannot complete forms online.

The money will be allocated at a flat $1,000 grant per household. 

“It will be a very expeditious process, and one that is meant to get the cash in the hands of those who need it with every bit of haste that we can add,” said city Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes.

He said details will be finalized in a week to 10 days on the application process for qualified individuals.

Business relief

The city will waive $10 million in building and mobility fees for developers if the plan is approved.

Curry said the incentives would encourage economic development and keep people employed.

Private companies and contractors managing and operating city-owned facilities or functions under contract will receive $20 million. 

City CFO Patrick “Joey” Greive said “a multitude of contractors” will  qualify for the program. 

“They’re going to have to demonstrate on an application that they’ve been impacted by the coronavirus,” he said. “We’ve had several entities in town reaching out for assistance throughout this process, and we wanted to make sure that as part of the $159 million from the federal government, that we’re flowing it through to those in need and local businesses that meet the criteria that we lay out.”

The legislation will fully fund the city’s $26 million obligation in its COVID-19 Small Business Relief and Employee Retention Grant program partnership VyStar Credit Union.

As of April 20, VyStar approved 398 businesses for a total of $11.5 million in loans in a $50 million pool, a city spokesperson said. 

City money provides grants to cover loan interest and some principal payments to businesses that meet employment retention requirements over the six-year life of the loans. 

Another $12.5 million will go to the city’s COVID-19 emergency account for response spending not reimbursed by FEMA.

The bill reserves $25 million to offset an expected decline in tax and fee revenue due to COVID-19. Curry said April 21 that city revenue from sales and bed taxes will be down considerably.

New COVID-19 testing

The COVID-19 relief bill would allocate $35 million to expand and sustain COVID-19 testing sites and other health care infrastructure needs. 

City Hall is following the White House’s three-phase Opening Up America Again guidelines, which includes reaching a specific level of coronavirus testing for states and cities.

Curry said the federal dollars will allow testing throughout Jacksonville to “serve every neighborhood.”

A free walk-up site to test for the coronavirus will open April 24 at Henry L. Brown Kooker Park at 1400 E. 20th St. in North Jacksonville. 

The new site can test up to 200 people per day, adding to the 1,300 daily test capacity at TIAA Bank Field Lot J and the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center.

The city also has been designated a federal site for a partnership between Quest Diagnostics, UF Health Jacksonville and the Sulzbacher Center to provide testing of area homeless and local shelter staffs.