City of Jacksonville Seeking First Tax Levy Increase in Two Years

By Benjamin Cox on November 28, 2023 at 11:15am

The City of Jacksonville is doing something that they have not done in two years – raise their tax levy.

The City of Jacksonville Finance Committee recommended a 3% levy increase this year for the first reading last night at the City Council meeting.

Finance Committee Chair and Ward 5 Alderman Don Cook says that the city needed to improve its revenues for the upcoming year to meet incoming requests: “Basically, for the last two years, we’ve had a 0% increase. We were just trying to save money through the Covid period for our constituents. That money is all gone…it’s lost and we will never recover it. It’s time now to start generating some revenue to improve our positions with the capital improvement projects.”

Cook says the city’s ask will not be as large of an impact on next year’s tax bill: “Alderwoman [Rubin de Celis] figured up that an individual increase would be .0073% or something like that with the 3% levy increase. It’s going to be a minimal impact. It’s not going to be like the other entities that are asking for a lot more than the 3% that we are asking for.”

Alderwoman Lori Large Oldenettel said during the Finance Committee meeting that the city will be looking at a one-million dollar bill for a new fire truck. The fire department’s contract is also expected to be up for negotiations with a likely increase for the next contract.

Cook says that all the capital improvement projects, like streets and sidewalks and amenities, weren’t able to be completed this year because there simply wasn’t enough money in this year’s budget: “The capital improvement project requests totaled about $3 million. We don’t have $3 million to contribute to those projects, so we will have to kind of pare them down. We only have about $1.4 million to finish any of the capital improvement projects. This increase won’t help out this year for the tax levy, but it will be helpful for the next year.”

The 3% increase passed at first reading unanimously. The second and final reading of the increase is expected to be on the agenda for the lone city council meeting next month on December 11th.