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First Coast Connect: UNF Poll: Most Duval Residents Opposed, Unsure About Pension Tax Extension

Jacksonville Mayor, Lenny Curry

A new poll of Duval County residents conducted by the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab shows mixed support of Mayor Lenny Curry’s pension bill and a human rights ordinance expansion to protect LGBT residents. 

Curry’s pension tax referendum proposes a half-cent sales tax and extends the Better Jacksonville Plan to 2060, in order to pay off the city’s massive pension debt. The issue will be a referendum on the local ballot this August. 

In the study, 36 percent Duval County residents said they are for the pension sales tax extension, 24 percent opposed and 40 percent have no opinion.

The study also showed 64 percent of Duval County residents voted in favor of expanding the human rights ordinance to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. Twenty six percent opposed the expansion.

Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab, discussed what Curry has to do in order to persuade the voters of Duval County to support his proposal on Monday’s segment of First Coast Connect.

First, Binder said, he needs to reiterate the importance of the pension problem and how it is eating up the resources of our cities governance ability to do a lot of things. Secondly, after making the problem of pension apparent, Curry needs to convince the residents of Jacksonville that this would be the best way to fix that problem.

“Not that the pension is a new problem,” Binder said, “but this particular plan is relatively new, so the mayor has some selling to do.”

Curry is launching a Yes for Jacksonville political committee with support from Susie Wiles, Donald Trump's Florida campaign co-chair, and former Jacksonville Sheriff Nat Glover to convince voters to vote yes on the pension proposal in August.

The second issue in the poll, the human rights ordinance, which has been a controversial topic in Jacksonville for years, shows that a high number of residents support the expansion of the ordinance for the city.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated with the correct information about the human rights ordinance and the August ballot, which will only include the pension question