Sunday, July 11, 2010

Q&A with Jacksonville City Council president Jack Webb

Both you and Vice President Stephen Joost have said pension reforms must be made. Negotiations are ongoing between the mayor’s office and pension fund trustees. What should be the council’s role in pushing for both sides to come to an agreement?

I think the role of the council is to remain observant of the fact that in the absence of some modification, in 10 years the $250 million that we spend on parks and on everything but police and fire and public safety will be gone, because it will be swallowed up by these increasing pension obligations. So we need to remain mindful of the long-term consequences of not insisting upon pension modifications.

What is the council’s role in helping the city keep the Jacksonville Jaguars?

I think we’ve got to perhaps control the dialogue with respect to the Jaguars. With respect to the Jaguars, we control our own destiny. It ain’t nothing to it but to do it. You sell out, they ain’t going anywhere. And again, that’s got nothing to do with anybody from Los Angeles or St. Louis or anywhere else in the country. … I’m willing to do anything it takes as a leader of the council to facilitate that dialogue.” (Webb said plans to buy two season tickets prior to the start of the season.)

The council recently approved spending money for parking at The Jacksonville Landing and several other projects around downtown are ongoing. What other steps, if any, should the city be taking to improve downtown?

Ultimately the answer is you’ve got to get people living downtown. You get people living downtown, you’ll get people spending downtown. Once you get people spending downtown, you’ll have more businesses and that will further attract more people to downtown. … I know that in the past [gave incentives to] developers to come downtown. I wonder if it might be worth exploring [giving incentives to] purchasers to come downtown.”

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