JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Signs went up at 21 local public libraries indicating reduced hours and days closed following City Council action approving a new budget, which kicks in Monday.
The Jacksonville Public Library is working with $3.5 million less than last year, meaning 17 branches will have reduced hours with only five locations being open for a few hours on Sundays.
"They're going to have to tighten the belt somewhere. I would like to see it go away with sports, like to turn lights off at basketball courts and keep story time," said Matt Cunningham, who frequently visits the libraries with his wife and daughter.
Library spokesperson Kathy Lussier says 13 children's librarians are being cut because of the budget, only leaving six on staff. Lussier says the plan is to cross train staff to help fill gaps in the children's libraries.
All together, the library cut 71 positions.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said in a statement following Tuesday's budget vote that it is taking 241 positions off the books, including the loss of 22 corrections officers and 59 community services officers. Those officers handled traffic matters with the program shut down last month.
The City Council did find additional money to fund mowing grass around the city. The mayor's office is still working on the details surrounding that decision. Originally the mayor's office proposed spending $1.5 million less to maintain city landscapes and right-of-ways.
This year, the city faced increased pension expenses with nearly 20% of the budget dedicated to cover the pension bill. Mayor Alvin Brown says pension reform is a priority for his office, promising a plan by the end of this year.
First Coast News