Jacksonville City Council’s support grows for the University of Florida

Jacksonville City Council’s support grows for the University of Florida
Jacksonville City Council’s support grows for the University of Florida

Thirteen of 19 city council members have cast votes in committee this week for $20 million in city funding for a new University of Florida campus in Jacksonville, giving it solid support when the legislation is voted on next Tuesday by the full council.

The Finance Committee voted 8-0 in favor on Tuesday, coming on the heels of the Neighborhood Committee which also supported the $20 million spending on a 7-1 vote.

The legislation will need supermajority support from two-thirds of city council members present at Tuesday’s meeting because it would change the city’s 2022-23 capital improvements budget. If all 19 councilors are at a meeting, a supermajority would need 13 votes in favour.

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City Council member Rory Diamond has been absent from City Council on military orders, so if only 18 council members are present Tuesday, the legislation will need 12 votes to pass.

The $20 million will be the first of three years of funding totaling $50 from the city of Jacksonville. The University of Florida would provide up to $100 million, and a private fundraising campaign would need to secure $50 million.

UF is asking for $50 million from the state legislature in the 2023-24 budget.

The only vote against the city legislation in the committee was cast by City Councilman Al Ferraro, who said too much is still unknown about the campus.

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Aaron Bowman, Randy White, Matt Carlucci, Kevin Carrico, Joyce Morgan, Ju’Coby Pittman, Ron Salem, Randy DeFoor, Michael Boylan, LeAnna Cumber, Tyrona Clark-Murray and Reggie voted for the legislation in the neighborhood and finance committees. Gaffney Jr.

Salem serves on both the neighborhood and finance committees.

In addition, City Council President Terrance Freeman, who does not normally vote in committees, cast “yes” votes for the legislation in both committees this week.

After the Neighborhood Committee approved an amended version of the law Monday, the Finance Committee amended two of those changes.

The Neighborhoods Committee amendment required UF to complete the campus within five years. The finance committee kept a five-year time frame, but said the clock won’t start ticking until the project is designed, has permits, has locked down the property site and is ready for “groundbreaking” to begin the construction phase.

The neighborhood committee supported an amendment that said the UF center would have to be in the “city core,” a large area that includes but is not limited to downtown. The Finance Committee determined that the location must be in the Downtown Investment Authority’s Community Redevelopment Area or within two miles of the outer limits of the Community Redevelopment Area.

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