JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Slashing three dozen city positions, including 29 firefighters could be a sign of tougher choices Jacksonville will be forced to make to balance its books in the future.
"I think this is just the beginning," said Matthew Corrigan, chair of the University of North Florida Department of Political Science and Public Administration.
Corrigan noted payroll is by far the biggest expense of government, and said cuts are the most painful.
The action by Mayor John Peyton to slash jobs and cut hours at five neighborhood libraries will save $2 million. Drawing from reserve accounts, according to the mayor's office, will bring the budget back in the black after being in the red by $12 million.
MORE: Firefighters, Library Hours Cut
The Maxville branch library on the far Westside of Jacksonville is waiting to learn what its new hours will be. The plan is to cut hours at five neighborhood libraries to 20 hours a week.
"You cannot spend more than you got" was the reaction of Chad Criswell. He said he takes his children to the Maxville library numerous times a week.
Several weeks ago, the Jacksonville City Council voted to double the garbage collection fee. Fees for various other city services were also increased, generating more than $20 million.
"Again, the question is cut services or are you going to bring in more revenues, and we have not answered those questions yet," said Corrigan. "The citizens are going to have to decide this because I think the public officials are saying, you know, there is really no other place to go except cutting to the bone."
The mayor's office projects a $40 million deficit in the upcoming budget. The city council this summer will tackle the options of more cuts or finding more money.
First Coast News