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What to watch for at City Council: Gas taxes, redistricting and COVID relief money for libraries

Jacksonville City Hall.
Jacksonville City Hall.

Jacksonville’s City Council has its first meeting of the new year Tuesday. On deck: Wi-Fi at public libraries, reduced gas taxes and new voting districts. 

Jacksonville Public Library is asking for almost a half-million dollars in federal COVID relief funds. About half of the money would go toward adding self-checkout machines at smaller library branches. 

The rest of the funds would go toward buying more internet hot spots, laptops and tablets for people who don’t have internet at home to check out.

The spending plan hasn’t been discussed in committee, and the library system is asking council to pass the request as an emergency bill Tuesday. 

Council also will hold a public hearing on a proposal from Councilman Garrett Dennis to suspend 12 cents of local gas taxes if Gov. Ron DeSantis suspends state gas taxes.

Half of that local gas tax just went into effect at the start of this year, after council shot down an attempt to overturn it in December.

And, new voting districts are finally up for public scrutiny. A set of maps council members agreed on largely without public input will be presented to council Tuesday. There will be four public meetings in the coming weeks before council gives final approval. 

Speaking of voting, election supervisor Mike Hogan is asking council to move six voting precincts ahead of the City Council at-large election next month. The changes would take effect for the Polson/Howland City Council race and stay in effect indefinitely.

Also on the agenda: allocating more than $300,000 of grant funds toward increasing GED and job skills classes at county jails. Some of the money also would go toward a program aimed at assisting survivors of domestic violence. 

Tuesday's meeting starts at 5 p.m. at City Hall. 

Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926 or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.