City Council delays property tax vote

Some council members not happy with budget


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville City Council is going to take a wait-and-see approach to a vote on how much residents will pay on property taxes.

The council was expected to vote Tuesday night on a preliminary plan that would keep the tax rate the same as last year. That vote has been delayed.

This year the mayor's budget does not call for a tax increase, but it does call for the city to transfer $37 million in reserves, according to the city's attorneys. About $16 million of that would be used to pay for some services the mayor wants to return.

This has caused confusion and concern with members of the council, which legally has until Aug. 4 to set a tax rate.

"Most people do not believe that the reserve should be used for balancing the budget or a one-year fix," said City Councilman Reggie Brown. "Let's go through and scrub the budget, see whether or not we have areas that can be reduced. What I'm really interested in is some departments looking for increases. My opinion is let's live with what we've learned to work with."

Once the rate is set, the council can lower that rate without any problem, but it can't raise the rate without public input.

The current millage rate is 11.4 percent.

City Council members said Tuesday they want more time to look over the budget, which they just received last week.

Some council members said they weren't happy with the budget and discussed returning it to the mayor to rework it. Others said that's not productive.

"The Mayor's Office presented a balanced budget that reflected key strategic priorities of the community: economic development, downtown revitalization, quality of life, public safety," spokesman Chris Hand said. "What the budget does is it makes key investments in those strategic areas.

"This is exactly how the process is supposed to work," Hand added. "We propose a budget. If they have questions or want to make changes, they are able to do that through the council review process, which now starts."

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