City Council unanimously passes final budget

Layoffs, cuts highlight city of Jacksonville's 2012-13 budget

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The City Council unanimously passed its $945 million 2012-13 budget Tuesday night, ensuring cuts and layoffs at public libraries, the Sheriff's Office and city maintenance programs.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office took a $12.5 million hit and was forced to eliminate 241 positions, which include community patrol officers and some civilian workers.

The only real pleas to the council at the meeting were members of the public asking the council to go easy on the libraries which is seeing cuts in staffing and hours. However, to save the city up to $4 million a year in salaries, 150 city workers were laid off, including library employees. The Public Library System will have to eliminate Sunday service and reduce hours during the rest of the week.

In total, the budget slashes about $1.5 million in funding for mowing along city roads. That means roads will be mowed just four times a year rather than eight.

"I think the sheriff issue and, of course, the risk management issue came up at the last minute, and I think those were handled at the finance committee this past week," City Councilman Matt Schellenberg said. "I think that mostly it's balanced, and I think there is concern about going forward, the economy. And if the economy stays where we are, I think we're OK."

The vote came after months of discussions and several public hearings about the issues at stake at City Council meetings.

Council member Don Redman's proposed amendment to get rid of Jacksonville's Human Rights Commission failed.

"There was some things I think we could do without that we are still funding that are not essential," he said.

Reggie Brown said the city will suffer from less funding to things public works and parks programs.

"There's some things that I would like to do differently. This is what I would like the taxpayers to understand. It's all about the character of the city... We took some hard cuts," he said.

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