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Jacksonville Councilman Asks Duval Lawmakers For More Conservation Funds

Leonard J. DeFrancisci
Wikimedia Commons

The Jacksonville City Council is asking for conservation dollars to clean up First Coast waterways.

Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park, is proposing $35 million in conservation funding for projects along the St. Johns River and the Keystone Lake region.

Bradleytold WJCT earlier this month North Florida isn't getting its fair share of money from a 2014 constitutional amendment earmarking tax revenue for conservation.

Jacksonville City Councilman Matt Schellenberg agreed.

“Last year and it appears this year also, 75 percent of the money is going to South Florida,” he said.

Schellenberg is on board with Bradley’s bill, and at Tuesday’s Duval Legislative Delegation meeting, he asked that his county be considered for more funding too.

He said there’s a backlog of local projects that have been halted for lack of funding.

“The biggest one right now is cleanup on Hogan’s Creek, as well as the bill for the septic tanks is close to $400 million and I think that would help substantially getting us moving,” he said. “You can't do it every year, but a little bit of money — $20, $30, and $40 million — to help remove contaminated septic tanks.”

Schellenberg’s request follows a similar budget request by Mayor Lenny Curry. Originally Curry wanted $50 million for reconstruction of a portion of the Hart Expressway. As theFlorida Times-Union reports, the mayor has since said he’ll ask for septic tank money instead.

And at the same time, a coalition of current and former elected officials calledStand Up For North Florida is set to lobby Tallahassee for the conservation funds.

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk.

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.