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Council Member Wants More Jacksonville Conservation Dollars

Jacksonville's Northbank
Kevin Meerschaert
Jacksonville's Northbank

Jacksonville City Councilman Matt Schellenberg wants to urge the state to dedicate more conservation dollars to Northeast and Central Florida.

His resolution says too much money is going to projects down south.

“I think that we need to be as aggressive as other areas of Florida and I think we should not be left out and that’s why I want to send a message through the City Council, through our local delegation and to the state legislators that we should be considered and allocated properly in the disbursement of that money,” Schellenberg said.

If the bill passes, it let’s Florida legislators know council members support more environmental funding.

The money Schellenberg is referring to is revenue from a real estate transaction tax. In 2014, voters agreed to earmark 1/3 of it for land conservation and restoration. Last year, thebulk of that money went to the Everglades and surrounding areas.

Schellenberg said Jacksonville could also use help to deal with septic tank runoff that’s polluting the river.

St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman said the bill is right on target. Northeast Florida needs funding to buy and clean up places like Hogan’s and McCoy’s creeks.

But she’ll be keeping her eye on any of the money that’s spent here.

Along with other environmental groups, the Riverkeeper is suing overwhat they call improper use of conservation dollars under the state constitution.

Rinaman said the money is supposed to be used for buying lands and making improvements to increase their recreational value. Environmental groups criticized the money used to fund things like salaries and administrative costs.

She said for instance, if the city wanted the legislature to allot this money for replacing septic tanks, there are more appropriate sources than the land conservation and restoration fund.

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

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.