Jacksonville, FL - They’re sitting empty or vacant, but you help foot the bill. So why does the city keep a hold of so much real estate in Jacksonville?
It was a question first posed by two city councilmen yesterday, and one that WOKV is now investigating.
I am working with the Property Appraiser who is compiling a list of city owned land while also talking with Public Works/Real Estate to get a list of city owned buildings. While both departments concede the city owns a lot of real estate, they were unsure right now exactly how much of that is vacant.
City Council President Bill Bishop suspects there is a lot.
“Why do we have all this property, what is it for, and can we sell some of it?”
He says just five years ago these weren’t questions anyone in the city took very seriously because there was a consistent stream of money coming in, but with the budget getting tighter and tighter every year, he says we need a long term solution.
“If you put it back in to productive use for businesses purposes, that business is going to generate income and jobs and tax revenue,” he says.
But the lack of tax revenue is just the first problem. City Councilman Matt Schellenberg says these buildings actually cost the city, and you, to maintain, even though they are vacant.
“We have a maintenance issue. We have to deal with potential leaks and break-ins and things like this,” he says.
So instead of seeing the city continue to pay out for the property, he wants to put the land to the highest bidder.
“We should be aggressively selling unessential buildings to people who will actually put these buildings on the tax rolls,” he says.
I will continue to work on figuring out just how much real estate, and how much or your money, is at stake in these vacant properties. I will update this investigation as it unfolds.