The promise from day one by Jacksonville’s Finance Committee has been to submit a budget that doesn’t use the entire 15% hike they allocated for your property tax rate, and it’s a goal they’re on track to meet.
But is it one the entire council will respect?
“As long as there’s going to be a differential there, there’s going to be an attempt to use it,” says Councilman John Crescimbeni.
Crescimbeni, who serves on Finance, expects the budget hearings to end this week. When they do, he thinks the committee will have restored roughly $51 million, or roughly a 12% (1.2 mill) property tax hike for you. The council voted several weeks ago to raise the rate as much as 15% (1.5 mill) if needed, which brings in roughly $65 million. The Council Auditor believes the budget submitted to City Council had a roughly $67 million hole.
So with more than $10 million possibly on the table, Crecimbeni expects a lot of floor amendments when the final budget comes up for a vote in front of the whole council on September 24.
“Anybody that didn’t get what they wanted- any city department, division, non-profit, whoever- that didn’t get what they wanted in the budget process will probably actively solicit support from one or more councilmembers to support a floor amendment to restore their funding,” he says.
But Councilman Bill Bishop thinks the body will mostly respect the budget that the Finance Committee puts forward.
“I just don’t think there’s going to be a desire to spend every bit of it,” he says.
Bishop tells me most of the desire to keep the purse strings a little tighter comes from the constituents he and the others represent.
“There’s a very strong desire on the part of the Council not to spend the entire mill and a half that we allowed ourselves,” he says.
He says it’s too early to say whether he would support any floor amendments during the final meeting. Crescimbeni tells me he will stand by the budget that Finance submits.