Budget battle continues in Jacksonville

Council could raise tax rates to balance budget

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – City Council members continue to butt heads with the Mayor's Office over a budget agreement.

"You've got to balance our budget and so today we've got roughly $18 million of true red numbers, money we owe, they miscalculated. Then another $37 million that doesn't exist. Money they took from insurance money that was set aside in our emergency reserves," said Councilman Richard Clark.

Clark told News4Jax the Council may be forced to raise the tax rate for next year or make large cuts in order to balance the budget.

"My colleagues do not want to dip into our emergency reserves,. That's not how you pay your bills," said Clark.

The Mayor's Office disagrees.

"This budget is balanced," said the city's communications director David DeCamp. "We've had other people review it. It's totally balanced. We've proposed strategic use of reserves to continue investment in the city."

The Mayor's Office said they need extra money for a one-time investment in things like revitalizing downtown, parks and the city's libraries. John Winkler, with Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County, suspects that's all been put in the budget because it's an election year.

"You won't see another budget coming out of a year like this from this mayor whether he's elected or not because he won't need to have another budget like this. The problem, of course, is the City Council has to dispose of the budget. The council doesn't take any praise when they raise taxes," said Winkler.

The City Council is expected to meet Monday morning to set the tax rate. The council has the option to increase the rates now and then lower them before the final budget is passed in the fall.

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