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Mike Weinstein and Sam Mousa prepare for a city budget review

Jax

Jax mayor’s office talks capital improvement priorities for new FY

Jacksonville’s capital improvement project budget list got reviewed Thursday by Mayor Lenny Curry‘s chief lieutenants, CAO Sam Mousa and CFO Mike Weinstein.

Herein, some highlights of a capital improvement plan tempered with pragmatism and a deep desire to avoid incurring too much debt.

All topics here are subject to change before budget is submitted.

Public Works capital improvement projects

  • ADA projects have a hard deadline of April 2018. Locations are currently under review, and $15.5 million is to be spent still. Chief of Staff Kerri Stewart wants to earmark projects for minority contractors; Mousa said “this presents opportunities to carve out prime contracts” for minority contractors.
  • Liberty/Coastline came up: $31 million will be the total cost, and Mousa says the $31 million is spread over three years — $17 million last year, $8 million this year, $6 million next.
  • The septic tank phaseout is being renamed: $30 million will be spent; the first three years are JEA money, the remaining $15 million will be paid out over the next two years by the administration. The mayor will message on this in the budget. It will be called “Florida wastewater something-or-other,” said Mousa.
  • Bridge improvements: budgeted at the minimum. $3 million for sidewalks.
  • The Old Kings Road bridge replacement will be funded by local-option gas tax money. “This is a critically needed bridge replacement of a bridge in extremely bad shape.”
  • Countywide intersection improvement and bridge improvements were up next. $3.5 million for bridges; $1 million for intersections.
  • Fishweir Creek will get money from Hogan’s Creek’s project money. Hogan’s Creek has contamination issues, and the state didn’t want to commit to clean up, so Fishweir benefits.
  • Railroad crossings will get $750,000, as CSX is expected to have work done.
  • $500,000 for new sidewalks, with half of that in debt.
  • Flasher clocks for school zones: funded by the bike-ped piece of the local gas tax. Right now, manual changes have to happen when the school board changes hours. Now, it will be networked. The manpower issues are prohibitive for public works. Hopefully nothing goes wrong!
  • Moncrief/Dinsmore Road Bridge will have $500,000 appropriated; money will be collected from the state after completion.
  • Fire Stations Nos. 1 and 4 will get water intrusion and air quality improvements.
  • Friendship Fountain improvements to get $2 million over two years.
  • Roof replacement coming for the main library — it will be a “partial roof replacement,” said Mousa.
  • Willow Branch Creek bulkhead replacement is on tap.
  • Pre-trial detention facility cell doors and elevators have a “significant need.” Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office wants a new jail.
  • Before that, though, the repair. Mousa wants to commit $1 million over time to cell doors at the jail. “There are no parts” and “there’s been tough times over there.” Weinstein wants half a million dollars for cell door replacement..
  • The hope, said Mousa, is to “do more pay-go” in the future, with “more cash,” especially if the pension tax passes.
  • Mousa notes “everything that was requested for FY 17 had to be spread over five years based on available funding and available bonding.”

Parks, Preservation, Wetlands

  • The Equestrian Center practice rink and the Cecil Field Gym are expected to be funded by cash, leaving $700,000 in the trust account for either cost overruns or improvements on the facility. Council will have to “waive the wall” regarding using the money for fitness equipment, said Mousa.
  • Windy Hill Elementary baseball field would be funded by cash, from money provided by a fund related to bestbet coming to Regency: $247,000.
  • J.P. Small Park should be done in the next few weeks. ADA-compliant dugouts and renovations for the field. Mousa wants to make sure Stanton and other schools are happy.
  • The Blue Cypress pool in Arlington needs money to get started. Mousa thinks that “if we do things right, the project will move up” on the list, but a pool expense is a one-time hit, not phased over years. There is an existing pool that is abandoned, and needs demolition. With Zika in the air, demolition is an option. A $200,000 demolition cost would be required. Despite a fence, kids can get in there. So the old pool will be demolished, after committee discussion. Replacement is another fiscal year.

Total Costs

  • $48 million will be proposed for borrowing. No grant funds as of now. Using some interest earnings and some pay-go cash and project transfers. $5.5 million will come from various trust funds. Capital projects will have a CIP of $70.9 million.
  • $24 million will be spent on vehicles; $16.5 million from cash, said Mousa.

Solid Waste

  • $15.5 million in borrowed money needed; $4 million for ash remediation, $11.5 million to finish Trail Ridge.
  • Mousa believes these are historically overbudgeted, with fund balances remaining in the millions. Supposedly, the fund balance is dwindling, but in a tight year, Mousa doesn’t want to borrow to be borrowing. “It raises our borrowing capacity, and we’re not doing anything with it.”
  • There are several ash projects with significant balances in their funds. Spend is delayed by unforeseen issues: the Southside Incinerator project was a listed example, and the department is “keenly aware of the optics.”
  • All money herein will be borrowed, and repaid via the enterprise fund.

Stormwater

  • Lower Eastside drainage, a $6.8 million project, will get $5.4 million this year and the next in the out year. Contamination issues have been worked through.
  • Drainage system rehab: $6 million from two funds. Knights Lane, Osceola, Collins Road are on deck.
  • Red Bay Branch sediment dredging will cost $550,000, and will be funded out of a transfer between projects.
  • Julington/Cormorant, funded at $245,000 by the state, will have a commitment to design but will not be completed this fiscal year.
  • LaSalle Street pump station may require $350,000 for property acquisition. Mousa cautions that will come at the expense of other things. However, there is a council reserve, and there is $294,000 sitting in that fund. “Take the difference out of one of the other projects,” said Mousa.

 

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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