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New Jacksonville Council President Wants More Proactive Legislation

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Lindsey Kilbride
/
WJCT News

New Jacksonville City Council President Lori Boyer wants the body to be more proactive about developing policy.

So she’s restructuring City Council committees to ensure it.

Boyer met with committee chairs Friday at City Hall to talk about restructuring meetings.

She said while the Council is good at the budgeting process, she wishes members would file less reactionary and more proactive legislation  

“We do lots of patches where we don’t really look at the whole concept of whether that section is a good idea,” she said.

She also wants Council committees to come up with more of their own legislation, instead of relying on third-party suggestions, like when people in urban neighborhoods wanted to be allowed to own chickens.

“We know there are these bigger issues," Boyer said. “We ran on platforms about what we were going to accomplish for the city.”

That’s why, beginning next week, Council committees will have time devoted to bigger ideas at the end of each meeting. She said committee meetings will have a firm stop time and then a special meeting devoted to forming ideas begin right after.

Boyer also provided a list to each committee of possible topics to consider, including: 

  • Public Health and Safety Committee look at funding body cameras for police officers and bike safety.
  • The Finance Committee review of how the budget supports individual neighborhoods and crime reduction.

Boyer also said failing infrastructure and challenged neighborhoods are topics of concern for most districts.
FUNDING PROJECTS

At the same time, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry wants voters to pass a referendum extending a half-cent sales tax, which would go toward paying off more than 2.5 billion dollars of pension debt.

Boyer said that debt is why expensive projects aren’t something she’s considering this year.

“This was not going to be a Council year in which I could have a big initiative like building something because we weren’t going to have the money for it,” Boyer said. “So what I really had to do is look at things like how can we better coordinate the use of outside resources?’”

She said that includes doing a better job working with independent authorities like JEA. She’s also tasking city committees with going through old ordinances and eliminate unnecessary regulations.  

For projects, she said it’s about working with what the city already has, like getting people out on the St. Johns River.

ACTIVATING THE RIVER

Boyer wants to implement ‘activation’ of the city’s waterfront.  

Last month she went to a community conversation led by Jax Chamber Chair Audrey Moran about using the city’s river to promote active lifestyles. 

Boyer said developers from Oklahoma City turned a ditch into a river by installing dams, building boathouse community centers and created a white water rapids course used by the U.S. men’s rowing team for Olympic practice.

Boyer added since we already have the river, getting people out on it shouldn’t be a stretch.

“They engaged people from various corporations to compete against each other in team competitions on their water,” she said. “I could see us doing that."