Jacksonville City Council passes TDC, Jacksonville Journey bills

jacksonville city hall

Two bills that were big talkers in committees last week passed the full Jacksonville City Council Tuesday night.

One bill changed various aspects of the Tourist Development Council.

The other bill authorizes a million-dollar federal grant for the Jacksonville Journey.

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The TDC bill went through a number of changes in the committee process last week, but none of those changes precluded an extended, torturous discussion on the matter.

Two cents of the six-cent bed tax will go to TDC functions — and the final version of the bill iterates how the estimated $7.6 million yearly revenue will be dispersed.

A tourist bureau would be budgeted $300,000. This appropriation includes three visitor centers: one at the beaches, one downtown, and one at the airport.

Marketing functions, including a magazine, a website, targeting markets with direct flights to Jacksonville, and digital advertising, get $2.25 million. Promotion of the city as a convention destination get $2 million to $2.25 million; this number is capped mainly because of the Prime Osborn Convention Center’s “limited nature” as a “tourist meeting site.”

Development and planning of additional tourist facilities will get $150,000 this fiscal year, dropping down to $100,000 and $50,000 in subsequent fiscal years.

Special event grants would be $800,000 annually for three fiscal years. Acquisition and improvements to certain publicly owned facilities would be at least $500,000 per year. And there will be a $500,000 annual contingency.

Additionally, one of three tourist industry representatives must have experience in the aviation industry (including the Jacksonville Aviation Authority). And two of nine members must be residents of or must work in the beach communities or Baldwin.

Discussion on Tuesday night was robust, with Council President Lori Boyer fielding questions regarding the bill from several of her colleagues.

A sticking point, hinted at in committee last week: finding a way to lower the threshold on special event grants at publicly owned venues from 5,000 people to 1,000 people.

Councilman Doyle Carter offered an amendment to lower that threshold to protect the interests of “the little guy,” meaning promoters of smaller road races and “ball tournaments.”

Council VP John Crescimbeni demurred, saying this amendment would be better offered down the road, perhaps at a TDC meeting, given the TDC vetted the current version of the bill just last week.

The discussion slowed to a crawl, with the kind of semantic discussions that would have been best served happening in committee or public notice meetings, before Carter’s first amendment was withdrawn.

Language that the current and most recent council president be appointed to the TDC also stoked discussion, with Carter saying the council should go to the state and change the four-year term.

There was eventually a motion to table the bill; it got 10 votes, ensuring a second round of discussion later in the meeting.

The bill passed 17-1, with Aaron Bowman in opposition.

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The Jacksonville Journey legislation, meanwhile, involves acceptance of a federal grant first announced in the Jax Journey Oversight Committee meeting in late September.

The two-year grant facilitates data analysis regarding the best way of going forward on programs related to at-risk youth.

The first six months will be used for a “steering committee,” via the Juvenile Justice subcommittee of the Journey, and then money will be deployed, including community outreach and identifying families and individuals that have been part of the youth criminal justice system.

Mercifully, that bill passed without discussion.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski



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