Northwest Jacksonville Council Members Want To Help Businesses With Failing Septic Tanks

Mar 6, 2018

A group of Jacksonville City Council members want the city to help pay for businesses to replace failing septic tanks.

About 35 percent of Jacksonville’s 1,465 businesses that have septic tanks are located in what’s called the “Northwest-area economic-development boundary.”

The boundary covers portions of 10 Northwest ZIP codes. Business owners or prospective business owners can apply for part of a $5.9 million fund to help their businesses grow.

Now council members Reggie Brown, Katrina Brown, Garrett Dennis, Reggie Gaffney and Sam Newby say they want to earmark a million dollars of the fund for septic tank issues for the 520 area businesses who use them. They’re drafting legislation for it.

“To (help them) either tie into the city,” Katrina Brown said. “Or if they don't’ have infrastructure on their street yet, to be able to repair their septic tank.”

Or replace the tanks.

Brown said average septic tank replacements can cost around $15,000, and hooking into a sewer line is even more with the fees — that’s if there are sewer lines to connect to. State law requires people who have failing septic tanks and access to a line, to connect.

“What I don’t want to do is to drive businesses out of the area,” Brown said.

The legislation would waive criteria businesses normally must satisfy to receive the funding, like creating a certain number of new jobs. The grant caps haven’t been officially decided. Brown said it would probably be $15,000 for a tank replacement and somewhere around $25,000 to tie into a sewer line.

“I believe it’s a financial hardship on the different business owners in the community,’ she said.

Although helping with septic tank issues won’t necessarily create new Northwest jobs, it could help businesses in which the cost is a make-or-break point, she said.

“We already get a lot of flak from the constituents that we represent that there’s not enough retail stores that are in our community,” Brown said.

Brown calls the fix temporary, and said she and other Northwest Jacksonville council members are planning seven more meetings to work on a plan to build more sewer lines in Northwest Jacksonville.

Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride