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Local
City to review empty buildings before building new
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City to review empty buildings before building new

City to review empty buildings before building new
Photo Credit: Stephanie Brown
Some rooms have floor damage from furniture, filing cabinets and similar items were moved out.

City to review empty buildings before building new

It's a change to the status quo that could save taxpayers money.  Jacksonville city council has passed a new plan to require vacant, city-owned properties be given a first look before constructing a new building.

"I didnt' want to have another two supervisor of elections offices," said councilman Reggie Brown.

Brown was one of the 14 votes in favor of the bill.  Three council members voted against it.

WOKV has been investigating for six months the taxpayer impact of vacant city-owned buildings.  Councilman Brown says the recent discussion over whether to build a new supervisor of elections office also spurred his decision to propose the bill.

There was some debate from council members like Gregg Anderson and president Bill Bishop

"I'm not going to support it and not because I don't believe it's the right thing to do, Councilman Brown.  It is the right thing to do.  I just think there are potential unintended consequences," Anderson said.

"Once side or the other simply has to say, 'I don't find that there's suitable space," said Bishop.

Much of the debate centered around who would decide what 'suitable' really means.  If city council wanted to build a new building or utilize a different one when they already had suitable space, they would have to get a 2/3 majority.

The city still does not have an accurate count of both the number, and cost, of the properties it owns.

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