Jacksonville, FL - Among the long list of needs that most City department are submitting to the Mayor as he makes the final touches on a budget outline due out in one week, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue has some big requests.
But as WOKV continues out coverage of how Jacksonville will spend your tax dollars on the upcoming billion dollar budget, we’ve learned many of JFRD’s needs may get pushed back.
“This may not be the year to build new stations,” says Fire Chief Marty Senterfitt.
Senterfitt has identified four areas of town that the population growth will require a new fire station within five years: Argyle Forest, near the Town Center, Lannie Road on the far Northside and Cecil Field.
“As the city grows, services are going to have to match that,” Senterfitt says.
He says while the economy seems to be improving, he’s sensitive to the fact that it takes government a little longer to rebound. Senterfitt says he will keep his budget request relatively flat this year, but wants to make the City aware early on that there will need to be significant investment made soon in those areas.
“There’s millions of dollars that go into building it [a new fire station], and then of course the staffing could be millions of dollars a year,” he says.
Senterfitt says JFRD has been successful in the last few years in cutting down response times. Two years ago, Senterfitt says rescue calls averaged just over 11 minutes. Now they’re around 9 minutes and 30 seconds. He says the goal, however, is to get down to the national average around 8 minutes, and that requires more resources.
“As the economy starts kicking in and we start feeling the direct impacts in the City budget, then we can look at moving forward and growing,” he says.
The Mayor must submit a budget proposal by July 15th. WOKV has learned the Mayor’s outline will be based on using the same tax rate you pay this year, however because property values have risen you will pay a higher bill, which will generate more money for the City.