Issue 9, March 1, 2015

Putting my Home Inspector’s hat back on for a moment, I want you to think about the roof on your home.  It’s what protects you, your loved ones, and all your belongings from the elements.  Let’s say its 20 years old; it’s leaking and getting worse with every rain.  Your options: 1) replace the roof before it causes costly structural damage, 2) patch it and hope the leak doesn’t migrate to another spot, or 3) do nothing, and hope the problem goes away…

Jacksonville has an enormous pension fund issue!  We all know it, and it’s not going away, on its own.  We can no longer push our problems off to the future.  (How many times in the last 20 years have we heard: ‘that’s for another administration to decide’?)

This single issue is the overwhelming reason why Jacksonville cannot afford to rebuild its infrastructure, put more cops on the streets, and keep our libraries open for residents!  Our buildings, roads and bridges, and sewers have deferred maintenance that can no longer be ignored.  E.g., the parking lot collapsing into the river at the old courthouse.  By not addressing the pension issue, or if we declare bankruptcy, Jacksonville will be crippled in its ability to recruit new businesses to town and it will devastate our credit rating for many years to come.

There are only a couple of options as to how we will be able to relieve the pressure of this pension fund crisis.  1) Jacksonville will need to cut a lot of services to its residents (so we can pay down the debt), or 2) it will need to find a way to increase revenue (so we can maintain our current quality of life, AND pay down the debt).  Answer No. 2 will likely have to come from a combination of increasing the sales, property and gas usage taxes.

Nobody likes the idea, but this is the reality.  We’re at the point where we have no other choice.  It has to be reconciled, and it needs to happen now.

At last Wednesday’s meeting, SBMC invited all three Jacksonville mayoral candidates to present their views and answer your questions.  Unfortunately, Mayor Brown declined to attend.  Lenny Curry had a family emergency at the last moment.  Bill Bishop did attend and answered tough questions about what it will take to get Jacksonville on the path to greatness.  He didn’t necessarily tell us what we wanted to hear, but he did tell us what we needed to hear:  We need a new roof.

Please think about what path you want to see Jacksonville take in the next 5-10 years.  Which one of these candidates will be able to direct our city toward achieving your visions?  Research all the issues and determine where all three candidates stand on them.

Election Day is March 24th.

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