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Councilmember Cumber spearheading new gas tax holiday legislation, wants a year-long pause for Jacksonville

LeAnna Cumber says the city can backfill lost gas tax dollars with the $171 million in COVID relief money Jacksonville is expected to receive in June.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville's city council is getting closer to a new bill that would pause the city's gas tax and save people five cents per gallon.

"Every little cents does help, it could be one to two to five, every little thing helps," Jacksonville resident, Mikki Utsey, said while filling up her car Monday. 

The pause would save people a few dollars every time they filled up. A small number, but it could add up given the length of the pause that could take effect. 

"I would like to see at least a year to really give people some relief because people are hurting all over the city," said City Councilmember LeAnna Cumber.

Cumber is leading the creation of the new gas tax holiday bill. She said the money from the gas tax can be backfilled with COVID relief money the city is expected to receive in June.

"That (the pause) would cost about $17 million of our COVID dollars out of $171 (million) that we're getting, and so it wouldn't even be that big of a hit to what we're getting," Cumber said. 

By law, changes to the gas tax would not go into effect until January. However, the state can overrule if deemed necessary and institute changes to the gas tax immediately.

For example, a month-long state gas tax holiday was passed this year, but will go into effect in October and not in January. 

Cumber's vision for the bill would be for the gas tax pause to start once a future state of emergency is declared. 

For example, if a hurricane were to hit Jacksonville and a state of emergency was announced, the holiday would start. The idea is that relief would come during a time when gas prices traditionally increase. 

"There are creative ways that we can try to figure this out can we do this and can we figure out how to give relief before January," Cumber said. 

Cumber added the council plans to meet soon and hopes a bill is written and ready to be presented to the state soon.

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