Mayor Lenny Curry’s proposed $1.2 billion budget cleared a weeks-long review by a Jacksonville City Council panel, which approved his plan to significantly increase spending on the city’s infrastructure and hire more police officers.
Earlier this summer, Curry proposed a stimulus-style budget that would bring spending on roads and public facilities to its highest level in years, as well as a plan to would allow Sheriff Mike Williams hire 100 more police officers.
Curry promised during his 2015 campaign to hire 147 new police officers in an effort order to curb the city’s violent crime.
The council Finance Committee, which reviews the entire budget before it goes to the full council for a final vote later this fall, eagerly signed off last week on Curry’s $131 million capital project list.
While the committee approved increasing the sheriff’s employee cap by 100 officers, council members didn’t budget the actual money to hire the officers because they didn’t think Williams could actually hire that number during the next year. Instead, they gave Williams a portion of the money requested and budgeted the rest toward other initiatives, like hiring security guards to patrol parks.
“We were all on the same page giving the sheriff 100 new cops,” said Councilman Garrett Dennis, chairman of the Finance Committee. “We weren’t going to give him a blank check. We drilled down on exactly how much money he needed.”
Earlier this month, the committee expressed reservations about the request for enough money to hire 80 new officers and told Williams they wanted him to provide more information about he planned to hire and utilize the new police officers before they’d approve it.