Buzz: Spending Plan for Duval County Schools Needs Specifics, JEA Gives Credits, Streetlights Return and More

Spending Plan Needs Specifics

Duval County School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti is recommending $103 million in surplus funds should be spent to place a reading and math coach at each school. He also wants to be sure every school has at least one assistant principal, a media specialist and either a music or art teacher. The plan includes restoring magnet school busing. Vitti also wants to equalize administrators’ salaries district-wide. School Board members were pleased with the plan, but they asked the superintendent to specify a dollar amount for each proposal.


Money Back from JEA

JEA’s Board of Directors has approved a fuel credit for all of the utility’s electric customers. The decision means residential customers using an average of 860 kilowatt hours will receive a $35.35 fuel credit. The actual credit, appearing on most electric bills on April 2, will depend on customer use. Those whose meter is read in late April receive the credit on the May bill. This is the second time in nine months that JEA customers have benefitted from the historic low cost of natural gas. Last July, the variable fuel rate was reduced $5.18 for folks who used 1,250 kilowatt hours.


Let There Be Light

Two months after shutting off thousands of streetlights to save on the city’s electric bill, Jacksonville City Council committees have signed off on legislation to turn the lights back on. The full Council was expected to vote on the measure March 26. Last fall, the city asked JEA about shutting down 2,350 lights mainly in business parks and commercial areas; they were deactivated in January. Gerri Boyce, a JEA spokesperson, said reactivating the lights has to be done by hand, at a cost of about $34,000. The city is also receiving the fuel credit given to other JEA customers, an estimated $500,000-$700,000 savings.


Golf Cart Beach Parking

The Jacksonville Beach City Council is creating parking spaces for its residents who get around in golf carts. The Council unanimously approved a pilot program to create 21 spaces for the low-speed vehicles. City Manager George Forbes said the city will keep tabs on the spaces to determine if some of them could be eliminated or if more need to be made.


Saving Trees from Loophole

Nassau County’s Planning & Zoning Board is considering a change to its tree ordinance after 30 large oak trees were removed to build a gas station. A proposed ordinance would eliminate a loophole allowing trees to be removed from a property if there was an existing building there prior to a change in the ordinance. A public hearing on the proposal is held April 2.


Carriage Company Closing

St. Augustine’s Avalon Carriage Service is closing down. Murphy McDaniel, 65, said he’s $1.8 million in debt and facing foreclosure, the St. Augustine Record reported. McDaniel said the lot where he’s based and where horse stables have stood for 136 years is already in foreclosure and 10 employees will lose their jobs. He blames changes in city ordinances for his troubles. City Attorney Ron Brown said the changes were made to make the carriage ordinance more equitable. “This is the end of the oldest continually operated carriage company in the nation,” McDaniel told the newspaper.