Because of a mountain of unanswered questions, dozens of amendments, unexplained project costs, and after four hours of discussion, City Council President Tommy Hazouri Thursday deferred action on the Lot J deal proposed by Jaguars owner Shad Khan, during a Council Committee Meeting of the Whole.
Several councilmembers said they were not prepared to vote on the proposal because of the last-minute changes to the deal and because of recommendations from the council auditor and the Downtown Investment Authority.
Councilman Danny Becton said he had “26 pages of questions” he wanted answered before voting. Becton warned the bill’s supporters not to push forward at yesterday’s meeting.
Hazouri attempted to get Jaguars’ lobbyist Paul Harden to agree to give the council more time instead of pushing for a decision at the council’s final meeting of the year, scheduled for Tuesday, December 8.
“It’s going to take seven to nine years to build this project, what’s another two to three weeks?” Hazouri asked.
Harden was evasive, saying it was important to Jaguars owner Shad Khan to have an agreement by the end of the year because of issues dealing with the federal tax code, along with “deal fatigue.”
OurJax thinks those two reasons from Harden just don’t provide nearly enough cause for the Lot J deal to be voted on when so many members don’t know what is in the bill, how much it will actually cost taxpayers, and what citizens will have to forgo in needed projects to pay the Lot J tab.
Opposition to the deal continues to grow among citizens. A second poll shows a vast majority of voters are against the deal. Today, all four letters to the editor in the Florida Times-Union express opposition.
OurJax cannot express strongly enough the need for you to continue to reach out to members of the council to urge them to delay the Lot J vote until it is fully understood, and they know – without question – it is in the best interest of Jacksonville and the taxpayers.