Jacksonville, FL (April 13, 2021) – As a result of Council Member Becton’s efforts, Bill 2021-157 was passed by City Council, amended, to add $450,469.13 of additional funding for neighborhood sidewalk repairs to the city’s 2020-2021 budget for immediate appropriation.
As a result of resident’s complaints that city-maintained sidewalks in neighborhoods were not getting fixed sufficiently, Council Member Becton took the argument to the council that the funding for such Public Work’s initiatives was in need of additional help. Bill 2021-157 was introduced by Council Member Carlucci that targeted $900,938.27 of surplus funding not used in 2020 for the Florida-Georgia Game but was to be redirected in full to Public Service Grants. However, Council Member Becton in seeing this as an opportunity to fight for the much-needed funding of what he described as a more essential service of government, debated the point that the extra funding should also be considered for this purpose.
“Neighborhood residents have been frustrated that their communities are filled with barricades blocking dangerous sidewalks and making these areas look like construction zones for way too long”, Council Member Becton explained. “In researching the timing of these repairs for residents, the answer from Public Works was not very assuring that repairs were imminent”, Council Member Becton added. “Funding was the number one reason, repairs were not being made and the outlook of when they might expect progress, well that answer was not provided in days or months but possibly years”, Council Member Becton concluded.
In researching this issue, a lot was learned about the process of sidewalk repair. First, the city does not do sidewalk inspections within neighborhoods. Given this fact, it is the responsibility of residents to report to the city any sidewalk deficiencies. When a sidewalk repair is warranted, residents should report the specific location to 630-City. Upon that report, the specific location will be added to a list of all sidewalk repairs and it is based on a “First Come, First Served” that repairs are made.
Inspecting the current list of sidewalk issues, a backlog of 319 individual locations at an approximate cost of $9 million is currently on the books. In looking at annual appropriations from the budget for sidewalk repairs, routinely only about $1.2 million is allocated for this work. It should be noted that “Gas Tax” dollars CAN NOT be spent on sidewalk repairs.
“Up to the very end of the Council approving this Bill, I had to fight for the funding”, Council Member Becton declared. “It is beyond belief that it was so difficult to accomplish in getting this split but in the end, my colleagues agreed, the liability of sidewalks in disrepair and the impact that these issues were having in our neighborhoods must be addressed”, Council Member Becton proclaimed.
** Update: On June 28th, it was reported by Bartram Springs that Public Works is addressing 68 of the locations on the list mentioned earlier.