Finance committee to finalize budget cuts

Budget cuts to affect development, city departments

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville's Finance Committee will meet again Tuesday to try and finalize deep budget cuts that will affect every department in the city.

Some of those departments include the sheriff's office, the fire department, supervisor of elections office and more.

Members also recommended getting rid of capital investment projects like the $11 million proposal to renovate the Landing; something many aren't happy about.

One woman we spoke with said those renovations are long overdue and it will be a shame if they don't happen.

"I truly believe the Landing needs to be renovated, it's a downtown landmark and it's on the beautiful river," said Sherry Lyford who works at the River City Gourmet Shoppe.

Lyford is upset over the finance committee's proposal to cut capital investment like the proposal to renovate and improve the Jacksonville Landing Downtown. It's part of the committee's plan to balance the budget, but Lyford said renovating the Landing will help revitalize a special part of Downtown which has been the committee's priority in the past.

I think renovations will help with the convention centers and will look better for our city here," said Lyford.

The idea to cut projects like the Landing renovations came Monday when the committee met to get one step closer to making up for a $50 million budget deficit.

City Councilman Bill Gulliford said this process has not been easy. Cuts will also be hitting important departments like police and fire. Gulliford said he feels bad when this process affects people's lives, but said they also have to be fiscally responsible.

"I think we're just saying we can't do it all at one time, we're in a box, we spent too much money and more importantly borrowed too much money in the past; we have to get this under control," said Gulliford.

News4Jax Crime and Safety Expert Gil Smith is a former JSO officer. He said the cuts won't only affect local jobs, but also the quality of service, including officers who patrol the streets.

"They'll probably have fewer breaks, fewer officers can take off, less vacation time and leave… That wears on an officer over a period time, they can become irritable. You never know what they're attitude could be like over a long period of time which is understandable when you aren't getting breaks or vacation time," said Smith.

The finance committee will meet at 1 p.m. Tuesday to iron out the details of the budget, and then the full City Council will meet at 5 p.m. for a public hearing and tentative vote. The budget must be completed by the end of the month.