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Update: Lawsuit Seeks To Block Jacksonville's Pension Sales Tax

front page of suit
John Winkler

A lawsuit challenging the pension sales-tax referendum Jacksonville voters passed in August could soon include six additional accusations against city leaders.

John Winkler, a Jacksonville attorney and president of the group Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County, filed a motion Thursday asking to expand his original complaint.

He brought the suit last year against the City of Jacksonville and  Duval County Elections Supervisor Mike Hogan on behalf of five Duval County taxpayers. 

An expanded lawsuit would not only challenge the timing of the referendum and the language of the ballot summary explaining its purpose but also charge city leaders with misrepresenting the tax. 

“We were repeatedly told this was not a new tax, that this was an extension of an existing tax,” Winkler said. “Well, you read the statute, and it’s obviously a new tax because it can’t even be applied until after the present tax has expired.”

Under the Better Jacksonville Plan, the city levies a half-cent sales surtax to pay for a plethora of projects including improvements to roads, infrastructure and public facilities. The Better Jacksonville Plan sunsets in 2030, which is when the half-cent pension sales tax is set to kick in. Voters approved the plan in August of 2016. 

Related: What's On Your Ballot? County Referendum No. 1: Pension Half-Cent Sales Tax

A hearing set for March 27 on the original lawsuit is expected to go ahead as scheduled, regardless of whether the motion to amend it is accepted. 

Read the motion to amend the lawsuit here: 

Reporter Cyd Hoskinson can be reached at choskinson@wjct.org and on Twitter  at @cydwjctnews.