Mayor Alvin Brown on Tuesday presented Jacksonville City Council with his tentative proposed budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
The preliminary budget provides initial estimates for revenues and expenditures and serves as a starting point for the city of Jacksonville's annual budget process. Brown will present his final proposed budget to the council July 16.
"As mayor, I am committed to streamlining city government to make it as effective and efficient as possible," Brown said in a news release. "We must ensure that taxpayers get the best possible return on their investment."
At the start of his administration in July, Brown took a 20 percent pay cut and declined a city pension. He worked with the City Council to close a nearly $60 million shortfall and balance the 2011-12 fiscal year budget without increasing taxes or fees or tapping into city reserves.
"It means we have two and a half months to take care of that," said Ronnie Belton, the city's chief financial officer. "Before, when we came in July, there was a similar kind of deficit and we cleaned that up without raising the taxes, not raising fees or bothering any money in the reserve funds. We got an opportunity to do that same thing again and we think we will."
Brown said he intends to do the same this year.
His tentative proposed budget shows the following:
- Expenses exceeding revenues by $58 million.
- Projected revenue of $912.9 million is $44.9 million less, or a 4.7 percent decline, from the last fiscal year. The decrease largely reflects lower revenue from real estate and sales taxes.
- Projected expenses of $971 million are up 1.3 percent from last year's budget. The change reflects increased costs for pensions, health insurance and worker's compensation.
Anticipating these continued fiscal challenges, Brown and his team have been working to identify possible savings by streamlining city government, city officials said. The tentative proposed budget identifies $11.1 million in savings from city departments, which are continuing their savings efforts in the months before Brown presents his final budget to City Council.
Brown said he has personally met with employees from every city department to seek their ideas for cost savings and efficiencies. He also directed a review of spending practices, including seeking savings from increased energy efficiency and better use of office supplies, to save taxpayers' money.
Brown said these efforts will continue as he prepares to present a final proposed budget that does not increase taxes or fees or tap into city reserves.