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JEA Bills Going Up In Orange Park


Many people who live in Orange Park will soon see an increase in their monthly JEA bills.

The utility company recently sent out letters to about 4,500 customers, telling them that starting April 1, a 10 percent public service tax will be included on every bill, increasing the average bill by nearly $9.

But a local business owner said he's going to get hit a lot harder.

Duwayne Hegel, who recently opened the Urban Bean Coffeehouse Cafe in Orange Park with his wife, said his increase will be closer to $80 a month.

“My initial reaction was, 'Ouch! I don't need any more (taxes),'” Hegel said. “We pay a lot of taxes and everything else, as everybody does, and it surprised me, I guess.”

Hegel said he enjoys every second of his new business, which is booming.

“It's going well. We have nice, steady flow all the time,” Hegel said. “We have on weekends been really busy most lunches.”

But the costs of running a successful business add up. Hegel said he got the letter about the service tax addition to his JEA bill a few days ago.

According to the letter from JEA, the town of Orange Park adopted a town ordinance in October that will put a public service tax of 10 percent on applicable electricity charges. Residential electric customers can expect about an $8.82 increase on an average bill.

One Orange Park grandmother, who did not give her name, said even $8 goes a long way.

“Some families are already struggling to pay their electric bill,” she said. “It would really put a hardship on them.”

The Orange Park city manager declined an interview but said that it was a difficult decision.

He said that after the economy went downhill several years ago, the current city budget had about a half-million-dollar deficit. He said the public service tax was the best way to get things turned around.  

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