City Finance Director Mickey Miller presented the City Council with a six month review of the budget.
Shortly after being elected the next council president, Stephen Joost hinted that the budget deficit could be as big as $6-7 million. He wasn’t the only one; several others felt it was going to be in that range. The review was favorable. Jacksonville is currently facing a $3-million deficit on this year’s budget.
Miller explained to the council that some of the major differences between the projections and what actually happened, those are beyond the cities control.
Some major differences brought up included state share revenues, which are drawn from a couple of things including sales tax. If the state as a whole isn’t generating enough, then we don’t get enough, and because those are given to cities and counties per population, we see the effect twofold. Just that one line item put us $2-million in the red.
Current council president Jack Webb says these numbers are positive, “I was looking at the council budget today and it’s below the initial projection, and I think that’s because we cut out travel, we cut out all of these unnecessary expenses, and that’s where we’re at today.”
Last year they were $11-million in the hole in the last quarter of the year, that’s when a lot of the cuts came down. Webb says we are not in that position this year and there might not have to be any more drastic cuts.
“I think what we were successful in achieving is a modification in behavior, people understand we’re in a tough budget situation and everyone has to chip in.”
As for how the city can make up that the $3-million gap, Webb says they might not have to do anything. Miller, the city finance director mentioned during the review that sales tax revenue has been dropping for a while now and finally seems to have leveled off. If that revenue makes an upswing the amount that the state allocates to Jacksonville could be increased and that could help make up for part of that deficit.
There are other areas, gas taxes, property taxes, utility service taxes that were lower than projected but they could rebound by the next quarter.