JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The City Council Finance Committee passed a balanced city budget Friday afternoon after many hours of work over several weeks.
The committee was short by almost a million dollars, but closed the gap by using an expected $500,000 increase in state sales tax revenue, and $493,000 lapse money. That means the mayor's office and city departments must save that much money during the budget year through job attrition or however it sees fit.
Several committee members wanted to use projected savings from the new stadium and city venue management contract, but that failed when Councilman John Crescimbini said he could not support that because he had no idea when the mayor would finalize that deal.
"I am not 100 percent proud of what we came up with," said Crescembini. "But we were extremely challenged with an incredible number of errors in this year's budget. I would like to have finished up with something other than a lapse to balance the budget. But it is what it is, we'll move forward between now and September and hopefully make it better than it is."
The budget will be published for the public's review and there will be public hearings in September. The final vote on the budget is the end of September, The full council can make changes in the budget if there are enough votes.
The budget takes effect October 1.
Public works was the final city department budget to be reviewed. They will lose several positions. Also approved was an increase in garbage fees for downtown garbage pickup for commercial businesses and restaurants. Currently they pay $30 a month; they will now be charged $47 a can. Most businesses use one can, but some have more and the increase could be substantial.
The city will pick up trash once a day, as opposed to two times a day now. But the city will have its downtown litter trucks pick up any restaurant trash in the afternoon to make sure downtown Jacksonville remains clean.
Paul Shockey is general manager of Burrito Gallery. He has four cans, so he will pay $158 a month more in garbage fees. He knew it was coming, agreed downtown businesses should pay more of the costs, but this won't be easy.
"It's going to be a little more difficult to stomach that cost, to absorb that cost rather. But we don't have any choice. That decision has been made for us and we are just going to have to adapt and make it work."
Shockey says they will tear down boxes and try to use less cans.
Ron Chamblin at Chamblin's Bookmine will pay about $64 more a month. He's OK with it because he believes the downtown businesses should pay more of the costs which the city has been subsidizing, but no more.
"That's quite reasonable I think. We have been having a real bargain in the past. This will be acceptable, I think it will be good thing."
There are 124 commercial businesses downtown. The city was chipping in $119,000 additional funds for downtown garbage pickup.
City residents will see less attractive right-of-ways next year as public works mowing budget was cut by $1.5 million, half of what it was last year. The city will mow city right-of-ways 4 times a year during growing season; they now mow 9 times a year. Landscaped areas around city buildings that are now trimmed 19 times a year will be trimmed 10 times a year.
All this in a budget year with less revenue and increased pension costs.
First Coast News