Members of the Jacksonville City Council introduced legislation Tuesday, urging the city to give back $2,775,000.00 in Hurricane Irma relief funds to the United Arab Emirates.
Embassy of the UAE announced it would provide $10 million in funding to the state of Florida in September 2017.
Jacksonville’s share would be used for school renovations, park restorations, and buying new tools for schools and clinics, as well as services for the homeless, including housing, healthcare and veterans services.
The resolution introduced by council member Anna Lopez Brosche comes three weeks after mayor Lenny Curry and UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba announced the funds at a press conference.
“Following the announcement of the Embassy funding members of the public have expressed concern regarding the source of the grant funding, as well as the purpose of the funding as stated by the UAE and the proposed uses of the funding are not in alignment,” the resolution states.
“Acceptance of these funds required City Council support, which was received unanimously at both the committee and full City Council levels,” said Brian Hughes, the mayor’s chief of staff.
The language of the resolution presses the mayor’s office to return the money, and find funding in the city’s $1.2 billion 2018-2019 budget, or the $166 million 2018-2019 capital improvement budget.
“Considering the UAE’s desire to maintain a low profile during the awarding process, followed by an unwillingness of the UAE or the Mayor’s administration to answer media questions at the October 19, 2018 press conference, sufficient post-appropriation circumstances and events have arisen calling into question the prudence of accepting a grant from a foreign government when the Council believes that the City can and should provide funding for the projects and programs awarded the Embassy funding,” the resolution says.