Public To Weigh In On Gas Tax, Downtown Development At Tuesday’s Council Meeting

May 11, 2021

The Jacksonville City Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday night and plans to discuss the local gas tax hike proposal. That’s the six-cent-per-gallon tax the city could levy to fund infrastructure projects.

City Council members are in the final weeks of considering the plan, which has been hotly debated since Mayor Lenny Curry and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority announced it earlier this year. 

Some City Council members are reluctant to spend as much as $379 million dollars on the plan to replace and expand the existing Skyway system with autonomous electric vehicles dubbed the U2C, and would rather shift that money towards the Emerald Trail. Others say it’s better to increase the gas tax gradually over the next few years, instead of all at once. 

Tuesday night’s meeting will include public comment on the bill and its amendments. 

Also on the agenda is public comment on the redevelopment of the Southbank’s River City Brewery property into some 325 apartments, a 500-space parking garage, a restaurant and bar venue, and a ship’s store, according to public documents. The project is expected to cost about $85 million, and is likely to receive significant public funding. 

The city has offered the developers, River City Brewery LLC, a grant of up to $12.9 million. It’s a Downtown Investment Authority program that incentivizes the construction of affordable housing Downtown, and it accounts for 75% of the new tax revenue the city expects to be generated by the project over the course of 20 years. 

The developers are also up for a $500,000 restaurant completion grant, and a $500,000 grant for committing to $50,000 in programming for the nearby St. Johns River Walk and Friendship Fountain area. 

City Council is also expected to vote on a resolution condemning a surge of violence against Asian Americans.

Contact Sydney Boles at sboles@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.