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Peace offering? Lenny Curry teases way forward for school tax

Jax

Jacksonville Mayor, School Board still disagree on tax referendum

“Curry does not believe that an expensive special election is the way to go.”

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry met with Duval County School Board Chair Lori Hershey on Tuesday at City Hall.

While the meeting was cordial, we were told Thursday that the Mayor did not move toward supporting a referendum.

“Mayor Curry had a very positive meeting with Lori Hershey where they discussed a number of important topics, including the proposed tax,” asserted Nikki Kimbleton, head of public affairs.

“Mayor Curry does not believe that an expensive special election is the way to go, but he looks forward to continuing the discussion of improving education for Jacksonville families,” Kimbleton added.

Curry voiced similar sentiments last week.

“The proposal put forth by the School Board, all I’ve seen is a proposal of a $2 billion new tax,” Curry said.

“Waiting to see details,” Curry said. “Like any piece of legislation, this has to go through the City Council.”

“I think the people of Jacksonville need to see more details. I do not support a special election for one referendum: it’s too costly,” Curry added.

The board, which contemplates an additional ½-cent sales tax to pay down a $1.95 billion capital backlog, will face some institutional roadblocks ahead of said window.

For one, Jacksonville General Counsel Jason Gabriel issued Monday a preemptory legal opinion that noted referenda timing and whether they happen at all is a sole judgment of the Council.

Council President Aaron Bowman told the Florida Times-Union that the bill would be on a six-week cycle, doubting a “need to rush” through a vote on this.

But there is a reason to rush: Any referendum happening after the end of this year, per HB 5, must be on a general election ballot.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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