Mayor Alvin Brown is promoting his "balanced budget," but as cuts went into effect Monday, some service departments say they're now on shaky ground.
Some of the biggest worries are from firefighters, who fear the budget reductions could affect public safety. The Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters believes the community should be concerned.
"Ultimately, we're worried about public safety, and these -- what they claim to be -- not-so-impactful decisions, actually are," fire union president Randy Wyse said.
The uneasy feeling is a direct result of the city's choice to make Fire Department cuts reductions.
The mayor calls it a necessary move to balance the budget, arguing citizens are not in danger of noticing a difference.
"Well, public safety is a top priority, obviously, and we presented a budget that would not impact public safety," Brown said. "If you really think about it, it's all of us working together when it comes to public safety, prevention, education, jobs -- that's the driving factor."
At City Hall on Monday, the Fire Chief Marty Senterfitt outlined the changes, which include cutbacks to the hazardous materials team, the technical rescue team, and the fire engine fleet. Senterfitt believes it's a financial savings that will not cost lives.
"As a fire chief, I want it all, we want to give the best possible public safety we can," Senterfitt said. "But understand, seconds equals millions of dollars, and so when we're in these tight economic times and we have to make an $18 million adjustment to our budget, we have to be careful how we do that."
The fear for the fire union is the possibility of longer response times, especially because of what's called "browning out," where multiple fire engines may be placed out of service on a rotating basis. It's a scenario the chief admits could happen.
"It may be a situation where we go from a three-minute response time to a three-and-a-half minute response time, but the goal will still be to be there well under the five-minute mark to make sure people get good service," Senterfitt said.
So far no "brown outs" have been put into effect.
The cuts may be unpopular, but Senterfitt said it has to be done.
"The only way we could stave off these cuts is with a tax increase, and that's just not what the public wants," Senterfitt said.
The changes are already in effect, and there's a chance more cuts could be on the way.