Council committee votes to save 2 libraries

Friends of Library not sure fight to save libraries is over

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As the Jacksonville City Council's finance committee finalizes next year's budget, it restores funding to keep the Brentwood and Maxville libraries open.  Others aren't sure the fight is over.

The committee had spared the Beaches, Willow Branch, University Park and San Marco libraries last week, but in its last budget meeting on Thursday, the committee restored funding of the other two that were slated to be closed in the 2013-2014 budget proposed by Mayor Alvin Brown.

Council President Bill Gulliford, who was out of town for Thursday's vote, said things could change again once the budget bill goes to the house floor.

"I am thinking we may need to reassess that, because... the library board has ranked priorities, and I think there were other priorities ahead (of saving branches), like hours," Gulliford said.

Also concerned that that funding decisions are not final, the Save Our Libraries organization has scheduled a 4 p.m. Friday news conference at the Brentwood library.

As the committee ended its work, it had saved fire stations slated for closure, given the Sheriff's Office enough money to avoid layoffs and saved parks and community centers cut in the mayor's budget.  In the end, it restored about $51 million to the budget, which will require a property tax hike of 1.17 mills -- about two-third of the amount of tentative increase they approved in July.

If that tax hike survives the full council vote on Sept. 24, the owner of a home with a taxable value of $100,000 would have to pay about $50 more next year.

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