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Dear Council: We Will Remember!

UPDATE --- The budget, and tax hike, passed the city council.  In case you're wondering if we plan to follow though with this... yes.  Look for our October issue hitting newsstands at the end of next week.

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The following is an open letter from Austin Cassidy, editor and publisher of The Jacksonville Observer.

As we get ready to put out the October issue of the Jacksonville Observer's print magazine, which is distributed at over 150 locations to more than 25,000 loyal readers, I struggled with what to put on the cover.

We discussed a few ideas internally, including the elections in November, something Halloween-themed or even something to do with the slew of big-name stand-up comedians coming to town in October.  But as of this morning, I've decided to go in a distinctly different direction.

The Jacksonville City Council is still fighting over a major increase in the property tax rate and is planning to resume their meeting today at 11am, where it seems likely they will find some kind of "compromise" and orchestrate a vote in favor of the tax hike.

More scary than any Halloween cover, I've decided that our October cover will feature the names and photographs of each Jacksonville City Councilmember who votes "yes" to increase our property taxes.

The councilmembers who are looking to vote in favor of raising taxes are banking on the fact that voters won't have a long memory.  They think we'll all forget by next Spring.

I think they're wrong.

Some of them simply won't care, because they're term-limited against seeking re-election.

But eight councilmembers have already filed to run again.  Plus Councilman Kevin Hyde and Councilwoman Glorious Johnson have filed to run for Mayor, and Councilman Michael Corrigan has filed to run for Tax Collector.

That's at least 11 current councilmembers who will appear on the March ballot for some office.   The council has 19 members... making 10 votes a majority.

In addition to putting the offending members on the cover of our October issue, the Observer will dedicate a FULL PAGE AD in every issue between now and next Spring's election to featuring the photos and names of every councilmember who votes yes on this outrageous tax increase.

Elections are about holding our representatives accountable for their actions.  Some of these members think we the voters will forget about the tax hikes, the fee hikes and the out of control spending by time of the next election in March .

We won't forget.

25 Responses »

  1. Hell YEA! Go Observer!!!!!!!

  2. GREAT IDEA I will put the cover on my refrigerator so I will be reminded daily. Raising local taxes is no different than President Obama and his administration raising them in Washington. Now is not the time to raise taxes of any kind.
    Please be relentless in your opposition to this abuse of power.
    Thanks
    Bert

  3. THANKS for helping us hold these inconsiderate, greedy twits accountable for their foolishness. There are plenty of ways to save that chunk of millions, and I'd bet a large portion of it would be readily available by making City Council seats a VOLUNTEER position, and pay cuts across the top of the leadership pyramid (not the bottom)- among others.

  4. If the C.C. won't do its job, We should; by not paying our taxes. Take them out of the escrow account. place those monies in a different account. When the city quits subsidizing housing, giving up welfare, medicaid, etc. we'll pay.

  5. Welfare is a luxury. Luxury is fat. Cut the FAT! In the future, make candidates swear/pledge, to GOD not to provide fat for free at the property owners expense. The C.C. members do not care for our parades and circuses. They'll rig the vote. PUSH, SHOVE THEM...OUT!!!

  6. you are wrong to think this city can come up with 45 million dollars by cuts. the city needs to raise the money like every other city in america. I know what I am talking about. The waste has already happened under tha previous (Delaney), and current administration. If you want to dig for dirt check-out the connections of the vendors to the city.

  7. That would be freaking AWESOME!!!!

  8. Representative government is at a crossroads. These coucilmembers have frogotten their duty- to represent the people's interest. NOT THEIR OWN.
    Every councilmember who votes YES on this tax hike rather than make hard decisions like all of us have had to do should recognize that they are NOT doing their duty.
    They should be called out and I support the Observer 100% to name names, and dedicate running councilmembers out who put career ahead of responsibilities to the people.

  9. Maybe some of the tax cuts can come from both the Police Dept and Fire Dept. Why is it that I can tell you that I have 10 JSO that live within blocks of me?? because each one has thier own car. How about a motorpool and at the end of a shift.. the car is inspected and turned over to another JSO to use. And why is it that every fire station in Jax has all brand new trucks.. ALL THE TIME??? Jax spends Millions on this equipment.. maybe if every 3 or 5 years the trucks get overhauled and than at the 10 year mark sold to some smaller town... but I have heard that we replace every FD truck every 2 years.. go price one of those monsters. I am driving 3 vehicles at my home.. all over 13 years old (oldest is 27) and all very reliable.. maybe the City should follow my lead. AL

    • You are spot on! In addition to what you have said, people in this city would be extremely angry to see that the police are allowed to take their cars out of the county, to Baker, Nassau, Clay, St.Johns. and Lord knows where else! The plan was originally designed to give a presence in the neighborhoods, not other counties! There are no less than 15 such police that reside in my small town alone, just imagine the waste that exists from all of the maintenance and extra gas consumption! When confronted with this new revelation, the police countered with the "Police without Borders program". This program is just a Social Welfare program for your local police to give them a gauranteed ride out of the county and back when not alledgedly pursuing criminals.

  10. Austin, you hit the nail on the head with this one! Believe me, I will not forget, and neither will every person I know come Spring time. Clay Yarborough and Bill Bishop deserve medals for standing up for the tax payers. Both were able to find 8 million in small budget cuts saving us from yet another tax hike. But, we are still able to go to the Beach for a $285,000 ($85,000 from tax payers) and listen to concerts and still have to pay to gain entry. Meanwhile people are loosing their houses from the property tax. City Council please beware, WE WILL NOT FORGET!!!

  11. Austin,
    You failed to put in a link to the specific budget cuts you would make in order to balance the budget without a tax increase. I also want to hold taxes down but we have to have concrete $$ cuts to make the math work. Name your $45m ( or whatever it takes).

    • Councilman Bill Bishop pushed for a 5% across the board cut.

      That'd do it.

      Or check this link... Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County has issued a suggested budget with more than $60 million in potential savings.

      http://www.jaxtaxpayers.org/team-taxpayer-tailgate-party-rally-to-oppose-another-tax-increase/

      • Even without zeroing out the Children's Commission AT LEAST $45Million can be cut from this proposed budget. The Concerned Taxpayers have shown it is possible!
        Many departments simply need to adjust their budget. Can the Recreation Services NOT find 10% or $5M to reduce?? You bet. Do we need to spend MORE than $7M on the Supervisor of Elections??
        The Concerned Taxpayers have shown that if each department other than Fire and Rescue and Sheriff reduced their budget by AT LEAST 10% we can avoid this tax hike.
        Mayor Peyton- shame on you for saying it can't be done.

  12. Excellent idea!

    It appears politicians everywhere espouse fiscal conservative rhetoric while running for office. Once elected virtually all of them take on the role of advocates for the various government union members.

  13. If they think we wont remember they are idiots. We can make poster sized versions of your cover for the elections.

  14. Across the board cuts would be a good start. Figure out the percentage, perhaps exempt the police and fire departments (though not necessarily), and then every agency will have to "make do" just like the people. And stop all construction. Period. Just maintain what we have.

  15. In good financial times, the city should look at opportunities to improve the self-sufficiency of those without those skills. However, when times aren't prosperous the city and it's leadership should focus on preserving it's core functions. Jacksonville Journey is scheduled to receive hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 5 years: all at the expence of bankrupting either the city, or it's homeowners. My understanding is the city would balance it's checkbook without this over-expensive project in place.

    -In the lives of taxpayers, that would mean cut your benevolent spending until the cash flow improves.

    Indeed, it seems the City leadership is more concerned about showing how benevolent they are with other peoples money, than they are stabilizing the city via stabilizing the budgets of those who pay their bills: the tax payers of Duval County. This would address the root cause instead of fighting the symptoms of the shortfall of cash. An accurate analogy would be to press harder on the accelerator of a vehicle that's running on half its cylinders: it'll work short-term, but the fuel tank will run dry before the vehicle will repair itself.

    Jack Webb recently attended a meeting of the Republican Executive Committee. He's developed a trend of doing this just before he stabs Jacksonville citizens in the back. This makes me confident that he will vote against homeowners and for those who aren't facing forclosure because they already live off the "good will" of Duval County. A vote for a tax hike is a vote against Tax Payers. Which makes me confident that Webb will vote to steal more of your money. He's turned out to be a regular Robin Hood, that one. He, and every other scoundrel who vote for tax hikes should lose any political future they might aspire to with Jacksonville as a base.

    The following councilmen are up for re-election:
    Bill Bishop, Reggie Brown, Richard Clark, John Crescimbeni, Johnnie Gaffney, Ray Holt, Stephen Joost, E. Denise Lee, John Meserve, Don Redman, Jack Webb, Clay Yarborough, Warren Jones, and Ronnie Fussell.
    (we expect the Democrats to vote for a tax hike: that's just what they do)

    All of thses should face a grassroots primary if they fail to listen to the citizens of Jacksonville.

    Voting for a tax hike, or a raised fee, or a charge to walk down the sidewalk should be correctly viewed as "anti-citizen". When one considers the economic situation of the nation, the state, and the city; draining more money from the tax payers is simply unacceptable.

    Had they wanted the city to remain status quo, they should not have spent it's surpluses: now it's time to cut social programs for the city to remain whole.

    -Just like families have to do when their budgets are attacked by dirty politicians with more loyalty to their campaign contributors than they do their constituency.

    I understand it's a hard decision, but that's why they make full-time wages for part-time work.

  16. Apparently the police/firemen want to hide behind their respective long term contracts and retirement issues. Ergo,call their bluff establish a reasonable pay and retirement plan and implement it on a "take of leave it" basis daring them to strike.

    This would be reasonable for all areas of city government, to share the necessary "pain".

  17. Because of the large increase in the unfunded liabilities in the police and fire pension plans the tax burded on Duval County tax payers wil continue to increase. Jack Webb the city council president is looking for the easy way out by telling the council members that the millage should be set on the budget not the other way around which is to set the millage rate first and then plan the busget around it. Taxes will always rise is Duval County when you have Union gangsters like Nelson Cuda union head of JSO and Randy Wise Union Head of Jacksonville Fire Fighters.

  18. City Council President Jack Webb (R) has given the reins of power over to liberal democrats. How you ask?

    The Jacksonville City Council has 19 members.

    14 are Republicans.

    There are 6 Standing Committees. Standing Committees mean that they are always on going, and that is where the core work of all the City Council happens.

    1. Finance Committee
    2. Rules Committee
    3. Land Use & Zoning Committee
    4. Public Health & Safety Committee
    5. Recreation & Community Development Committee
    6. Transportation, Energy & Utilities Committee

    The City Council President chooses who is on what committee, and who are the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of which committee.

    The three most powerful Committees in City Hall are:

    1. Finance Committee
    2. Rules Committee
    3. Land Use & Zoning Committee

    All three are Liberal Democrats.

    In the order listed above are:
    Warren Jones (D)
    E. Denise Lee (D)
    John Crescimbeni (D)

    This means that City Council President Jack Webb (R) is responsible for giving away the reins of power to the minority party, and people who are known Liberals. God Help us!

  19. What have they bought this time that they can't pay for?

    The council needs to get its head on straight. Government isn't a "for profit" business. It doesn't make money, it takes money.

    Perhaps this consolidation wasn't such a good idea after all. Just whose champagne tastes are my tax dollars satisfying now?

    When we fill their chairs during the next election, let's keep in mind that we want someone who can find some way of keeping the bills within a reasonable budget, not someone who can find ways to pay the bills, no matter what they are.

  20. Oh yeah! Somthing else.

    It's not been three years since Senator King was in Jacksonville with his crew of henchmen from Tallahassee, trying to show sympathy for the exorbitant property taxes that were putting small business owners out of business.

    And... what about the doubling of the cost of your automobile license? I'll bet everybody was standing in line to vote for that.

    C'mon guys! This is a real world, with real people. We aren't renters of your property. This land actually belongs to us.

  21. I learned a few things from the livestream today. For one thing, it was obvious the hundreds of thousands ($400k or so) for the 'feasibility study' to move the fair was in the budget from last year when they also increased our taxes.

    What contractor benefits? That should've been an immediate cut because the fair has a site that has worked for many years even if it does make for traffic jams.

    I also had no idea the city/county maintains a scholarship fund at $800k. One council member said that helped fund recruiters who visit schools to get kids to go to college. My point is that we already have state scholarships, PELL and other grants and student loans. In cash strapped times, why are we funding scholarships on a city level at taxpayer expense?

    It was obvious to me a real line by line on that budget needs to happen. Especially since no one really had the details on that scholarship fund totaling nearly $1 million bucks.

    And these items are apart from completely wasted funds on past construction projects.

    I won't forget and I will help you remind the public, btw.

  22. BRAVO!! ENCORE!!! Let's see their names, faces and records in print in public places!!! Hope you include their "fees" and et ceteras, and details of what taxes raised!
    The market value of my house has dropped over 20% and looks like the taxes will go up over 10%. The interest on my life savings has about been cut in half. My income is down and the taxes and fees headed up.
    Time to tell the politicos and their greedy corporate or welfare whining backers to stuff it!