Curry wants to find solutions for city’s $2 billion septic tank needs | Jax Daily Record | Jacksonville Daily Record
Mayor Lenny Curry said Feb.11 his administration is in early talks to find long-term funding for septic tank removal and sanitation sewer access for more than 30 Duval County’s neighborhoods, an estimated $ 2 billion -Project.
“That’s how long the government looked at the project and said it was a $ 2 billion project. It’s too big and just ignored it and moved on. But we have to start somewhere, ”said Curry. “We can’t just write this off as a multi-generational, billion-dollar problem that is too big to tackle.”
At a press conference at City Hall on Feb. 11, Curry announced additional city and JEA funds of $ 26.8 million for a septic tank phasing out program in 2016, which was $ 31.8 million among the 86 needed Million US dollars. He was joined by the Vice President of the Council, Sam Newby, and Councilors Brenda Priestly Jackson and Ju’Coby Pittman.
Municipal utility JEA has earmarked septic tank exit funding of $ 54.2 million.
The project is being carried out in phases in the Biltmore, Beverly Hills and Christobel neighborhoods of northwest Jacksonville.
Even with the extra money, the town would still be small, but Curry will stand up to legislate for the rest of the funding.
Jordan Elsbury, Curry’s chief of staff, said the city’s commitment made the project eligible for funding for the state’s water quality project.
If the city doesn’t win the state money, the project will still be completed, according to Curry.
“We will definitely complete these projects,” he said. “If we have to fill a void, we will fill a void to fill these neighborhoods.”
Of the $ 26.8 million, $ 14.3 million comes from the city and $ 12.5 million from JEA.
Elsbury said the city’s contribution will be treated as a capital project and funded through a combination of debt and cash.
Jay Stowe, CEO of JEA, said Jan. 28 that he had asked his leadership team to meet with the city’s Department of Public Works to find a long-term strategy for septic tank removal.
Curry made the changed project goal in the 2016 project due to changing market and economic conditions.
“When you think about the billions of dollars in septic tank work that needs to be done, we know that cost structures are going to change. You could go up and down, ”said Curry. “But the longer we wait, the more volatile it becomes. So we’ll work together to find a long-term solution.”
The mayor didn’t offer a schedule or dollar amount for the nationwide sanitation of septic tanks, but expects an initial investment of “hundreds of millions of dollars … with a path to the billions of dollars it would cost over time.”
Curry said he will meet with the 19 council members and involve community groups in Jacksonville to highlight the impact of aging septic tanks on the city’s water quality and quality of life.
The city estimated that Jacksonville needed 65,000 septic tanks to be replaced in 2016, many of which were built before the 1968 consolidation.
Curry’s proposal comes two days after Council Chairman Tommy Hazouri tabled laws to borrow and allocate $ 100 million for septic tank removal and installation of sewer services for underserved communities.
Hazouri’s bill, Ordinance 2021-0100, would use fixed income debt and the city’s commercial paper program – a short-term liquidity loan option – to fund the septic tank exit.
The mayor said on February 11 that he hadn’t seen Hazouri’s proposal but wanted to use the septic tank debt expenditures “intelligently”.
Priestly Jackson, chair of the Council’s Special Committee on Social Justice and Community Investment, expects laws to be tabled to re-prioritize the list of 35 areas to clear septic tanks based on where officials see the greatest need.
She said she was unaware of Hazouri’s bill until it was announced on Feb. 9, but she said access to sanitary sewers was an issue on which all Jacksonville elected officials could reach an agreement.