Issue 6, February 7th

With all the challenges we face currently, be it locally, that of our country, or a global issue, it’s nice to hear the perspective of an optimist with solid ideas and hard data to back them up.  Last week we learned Steve Halverson fits that description and his presentation illustrated a comparison of Jacksonville to many of our peer cities, but also some of the challenges we face and possible solutions.  Steve serves on and is a Past Chairman of the Jacksonville Civic Council which is made up of local area CEOs who pool their resources to advise local officials from the view of the private sector and get involved accordingly.  If you’ve lived in Jacksonville for the majority of your life you probably would have been surprised to see his comparison of our tax burden in comparison to that of many peer cities.

Steve also illustrated some of the ways in which we are “underinvesting” in various areas like education, arts, culture, infrastructure, etc. all in the neighborhood of 20% in comparison.  Additionally, he elaborated on our pension problem demonstrating the improvements already accomplished and the looming challenges if we continue not to address the revenue needs for this issue.  Now I referred to Steve as an optimist, and the overall tone with which he presented was that of someone who saw these as solvable problems that would take the involvement and voice of Civic Organizations like SBMC speaking out and addressing issues large and small for the betterment of our city.  After the program Steve mentioned several in attendance had requested a copy of the PowerPoint presentation he brought, if you’re interested please email send me an email and I’ll be happy to relay the file.

We also had our first social event of the year from the magnificent view of the River Club downtown; everyone in attendance had a blast.  This week we’ll hear from one of our elected officials, Public Defender and SBMC member Matt Shirk who is also up for re-election this year.  A recurring theme in Matt’s presentations, which should make any tax payer happy, is the amount of funding he’s often been able to return to the state rather than managing his office on a “use it or lose it” basis.  I’m personally looking forward to his presentation.

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