Another chunk of money uncovered during Jacksonville’s budget review, and the administration wants that to go back to you.
“We have regained some of our ability to invest in key city services,” says Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown.
Legislation currently working through city council already sought to appropriate about $1.3 million that had been uncovered from unused grant matching and the former JEDC to restore some right-of-way mowing and park maintenance. Two weeks ago, City Councilman Bill Gulliford looked at amending that to also restore funding for streetlights that had been turned off in some more commercial, less trafficked areas of town.
Today, the administration is putting forward an amended version of the bill to include that, and more.
“This is kind of the core of what we’re supposed to be doing as a city, and that’s to keep our right-of-ways, our roads, our lights and things like that for the citizens,” says Councilman Doyle Carter.
More money has been uncovered during the city’s budget review. This new proposal gives an additional $500,000 to mowing- bringing the total to $660,000. It would also allocate $300,000 for turning all streetlights back on, and it would give $89,500 to Fraternal Order of Police members needing reimbursement for job-related educational expenses.
FOP President Nelson Cuba says they had burned through the $60,000 the city already gave very quickly, meaning officers have been using their own money for these expenses.
“They’re out of pocket. With these tough economic times, they don’t have to money to pay for it,” he says.
Within the past few weeks, the city had spent tens of thousands of dollars to turn the street lights off, and now can expect to incur a similar cost to turn them back on without actually realizing most of the savings. I asked Brown what he thought about the expense, and he tells me it was the right move at the time.
“We’ve just gotta make the decision to move on, and that’s what we’re doing,” he says.
Business leaders specifically had clamored to get the lights back on, although residential areas also wanted to lights restored out of concern for crime and safety.
The amended version of the legislation will be taken up in committee this week and, if it clears, faces a full council vote next week.
Under the same legislation, Brown is also recommending two economic development zones keep unused money from last year. $430,000 would go to housing, retail and commercial development in the Soutel/King Community Redevelopment Area in Northwest Jacksonville. $67,000 would focus on increasing employment and recruiting businesses in the economic zone near JIA.