JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As protesters across the country call for the defunding of police departments, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams on Tuesday laid out his proposed budget to the mayor’s staff.
The proposal calls for 40 new officers, but not much else new as the overall city budget will remain flat.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office makes up the biggest share of the city’s budget, which Mayor Lenny Curry’s staff is working to put together.
The sheriff’s wish list includes a federal grant that will allow JSO to hire 40 new officers. The city would have to pay a portion, and the overall cost of the hiring is still to be decided.
In all, the sheriff is asking for more than $481 million, which is $6.1 million more than was approved last year.
Specific increases include an additional $5.6 million going toward patrol costs.
One of the sheriff’s biggest concerns is vacancies, primarily with the jail. Williams wants an increase of more than $1 million for corrections. There’s a shortage of 100 corrections officers. The sheriff said he is ready to hire 25 more, but given recent protests, hiring the rest is proving to be difficult.
“The current climate is not helping that. I have a concern moving forward about what that’s going to do with recruiting across-the-board for us,” Williams said. “But we’re working hard to try to push back those negative narratives.”
Other areas where there could be more money being spent is in the JSO Department of Investigations and Homeland Security -- a $3 million increase.
One area where JSO plans to save money is with the executive staff -- a $378,000 decrease.
In the past, pension costs have plagued the Sheriff’s Office. A half-cent sales tax was approved to fund it. This year, JSO is paying out $68.9 million in pension costs.
This is the first step in the budget process. The mayor will present a budget next month, but the full council will have to approve it in September. This year, it’s expected to be a very lean budget, and other agencies will be making their budget requests soon.