JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville City Council voted to give themselves the flexibility to raise the millage rate by about 15 percent, and there seems to be support among those threatened with the loss of services.
Sarah Kelly lives just a few blocks from Fire Station 14 on Herschel Street, one of three fire stations set to close if the city can't fill a gap in the budget.
"I don't know if you can really put a price on those services ," said Kelly. "When you are in a time of need you don't have the services you would have had and something unfortunate happens, you don't think about it until those times come along."
Kelly said she grew up with libraries and would hate to see the nearby Willowbranch Library close, leaving kids without the opportunity to go check out books. She would support paying the entire 15 percent hike if necessary.
"I would support it, to keep those services in the neighborhood, and to feel safe, I think that the increase is worth it," Kelly said.
"I think it is essential the things they are trying to do away with," said Kelly's neighbor Robert Hall Sr. He says the city is doing away with the wrong things, like libraries, fire and police protection.
The 89-year old World War II veteran is also willing to pay more for those services. But he supports a sales tax, not a tax hike on homeowners.
"I think it should be covered so everybody pays for it, not just a few of the homeowners paying for it. They are picking on a select few people to absorb the costs, not everyone in Jacksonville," Hall said.
Sue Harrell has been cutting hair at the Calico Hair Styling Boutique that she owns for that last 38 years on Herschel street.
Her business is just down the street from Fire Station 14, which is set to close down if the city can't close an over $60 million budget gap.
How much is she willing to pay to keep the fire station down the road and other city services?
"That is a hard question , because we are almost at our limit with taxes now, but of course the fire and police are very important"
Harrell says she is willing to pay more in taxes, but a 15 percent jump is a bit too high for a tax hike at one time.
"I think a five percent raise is a lot, I think that would be ok, but fifteen at one time?"
Sam Jacobson, a partner in a nearby art gallery, is willing to pay more.
"I would say an increase of five to 10 percent would be reasonable in the millage rate because the property assessments have gone down considerably over the last four to five years so the city has to make up the difference somehow," Jacobson said.
Jacobson says his taxes have gone down 40 percent the last five years. Like Harrell, he thinks a 15 percent tax hike is too much, but under some circumstances he would not object.
"It is a little excessive but if someone shows me in dollars and cents what that really means for the services that we can keep then I would be willing to go that high," he said.
First Coast New