City Council votes against millage rate increase

Sheriff John Rutherford wanted rate increase to avoid officer layoffs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville City Council voted against a millage rate increase for the upcoming budget year, which starts October 1.

During a meeting Tuesday night, council members voted 15-3 in favor of keeping the property tax rate the same as last year, meaning the budget must be balance with millions of dollars in cuts.

On Monday, Sheriff John Rutherford pleaded his case for funding so he wouldn't have to lay off officers for a second year in a row.

Rutherford said that the cuts would require the layoff of 95 sworn officers.

Because property assessments in the county decreased over the past year, keeping the millage rate the same will actually drop the tax bill for the average home in Jacksonville about $75.

Rutherford had wanted the city to set property taxes at a rate that would generate the same level of revenue as last year, but Mayor Alvin Brown and most council members rejected that idea as a tax increase.

But some on council feel there some additional money could be found for the Sheriff's Office.  Matt Schellenberg voted with the majority to not increase property taxes, but says theres a lot of things that could be cut in the budget other than police.

"I'd rather send the whole budget back to the mayor and have him do what he's supposed to do over the past year and give us a quality budget and cut where there is fat and have the important things of this city continue to operate efficiently," Schellenberg said.

While the tax rate had to be set this week, the council has until Oct. 1 to approve the 2012-2013 budget.

Copyright 2012 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.