Mayor Brown Interview


What can Beaches residents expect from the new mayor of Jacksonville? 
A new cruise terminal? New interlocal agreements? More support for fighting crime?

Abel Harding, Mayor Alvin Brown’s director of communications, said the new mayor is committed to maintaining agreements and providing the Beaches with the support they need.

“We believe it’s in the best interest to continue the interlocal agreements as they are,” Harding said.
The interlocal agreement was created in 1982 after the Beaches cities fought with the City of Jacksonville over ways taxes and government services were allocated. In 1996, the interlocal agreement was amended after the Beaches filed a lawsuit against Jacksonville for breach of the 1982 agreement.

Jacksonville and its coastal cities, however, still have some unresolved issues over the interlocal agreement. Numerous Beaches residents have questioned for years if they get their money’s worth from the city.

Sandy Golding, president of Beaches Watch, a nonprofit citizen advocacy organization, said there is concern regarding what is being done with coastal residence’ tax dollars.

“A significant number of what we pay in taxes goes to Jacksonville,” Golding said. “I think citizens are certainly questioning what they are getting for their tax dollars.”
Golding, a Jacksonville Beach resident herself, said for instance, there’s an animal control issue.

According to the interlocal agreement, the City of Jacksonville is suppose to be providing the Beaches with animal control services. 
“But for many years now … the Beaches have not been able to get good service in regards to animal control,” she said. “So all three Beaches’ cities are now providing their own animal control.”

The bottom line, she said, is Beaches residents are concerned that Jacksonville is trying to find a way to get more money and using the Beaches as an unfair source to gain revenue.

“And they think that the Beaches aren’t paying enough in taxes,” Golding said, “whereas Beaches citizens think we are paying enough in taxes and perhaps the City of Jacksonville is not providing ample services in exchange for what we are paying.”

Atlantic Beach Mayor Mike Borno didn’t give any specifics for what he expects from Brown, though, he expressed that progression in the form of dutiful meetings with Brown should take place.

“[Brown] told us prior to the election, he told us after the election that he wanted to work with all four mayors in Duval County,” Borno said. “And we’re working to make that happen.”

Atlantic Beach Commissioner John Daugherty said what concerns him about Brown is that he’s looking into opening up landfill tipping fees for Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach residents, which will add extra costs to services.
Those terms are not written in the interlocal agreement, he said.

Upcoming city council meetings will help determine how landfill-tipping fees will pane out.

It’s Daugherty’s understanding that the City of Jacksonville is in more trouble fiscally than the Beaches cities, but he said that’s not a reason to take more from the Beaches.

“I’m just worried that they are looking at the Beaches as a source of revenue,” he said. “And we are going to do our best to protect our citizens from that.”

Jacksonville City Council member and former Atlantic Beach mayor Bill Gulliford agrees that developing better relationships with Jacksonville’s legislation is crucial for both parties in order to resolve issues.
One issue Gulliford expressed is he’d like Jacksonville to provide more financial support to the Beaches police department due to the impacts its citizens, who utilize the Beaches for recreation, have on it.

When people from Jacksonville visit the Beaches for its nightlife, it puts additional pressure on the police department, Gulliford said. And they need extra support.
Other developments in respects to the Beaches, Harding said, are growing business at JaxPort.

He said Brown is trying to obtain funding for further expansion of JaxPort and continuing to lobby for a nuclear carrier.

Brown visited Washington July 25 and had a meeting July 26 with members of congress to discuss JaxPort, Harding said. And he’s expressed interest in seeing a permanent cruise terminal with more ships.

However, in order for that to happen, Mile Point needs to be fixed and channels need to be dredged to a depth that can handle large Panex ships. 
Harding said Brown has expressed concerns with Gov. Rick Scott regarding Mile Point and additional dredging needs.

Gulliford said he doesn’t know if the City of Mayport is ready for a new cruise terminal.

“I worry about the infrastructure,” he said. “Will the road running out to Mayport be able to handle the volume of traffic that a cruise terminal would create? If it can’t, how expensive is it going to be to build a road that can?”
He said if cruise ship companies aren’t willing to make a long-term commitment to the city, the endeavor might not end up being a pertinent use of money.

Much is yet to be determined, as Brown has only been in office for a short time. But success in the issues he’s deemed necessary may prove beneficial by and large.

“Florida, the donor state, is known for spending more money to Washington than it gets back,” Harding said. “And [Brown] believes that JaxPort is a great way to get some of that money back and grow jobs at the same time.”

Jacksonville’s mayor, Alvin Brown, says he will need more than a few months on the job to make major changes to our city’s landscape.

In a recent interview with the Spinnaker, Brown detailed his plans for the city of Jacksonville, and some will directly affect UNF students.

“I got four years to make my case,” Brown said.

During the campaign, the mayor said his priorities would include Downtown, education and balancing the budget. The mayor submitted a balanced budget to the Jacksonville city council, hired an education commissioner, and it still working on plans to make downtown more vibrant.

To see what else Mayor Brown had to say about these topics, plus the Jacksonville Jaguars and the possibility of Jacksonville getting an NBA team, click on the video link.