Councilman reacts to mayor's budget

Mayor Alvin Brown responded to criticism Wednesday

By Jennifer Waugh - The Morning Show anchor, I-Team reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - City councilman Richard Clark, who had harsh words for Mayor Alvin Brown this week on his budget proposal, appeared Thursday on The Morning Show, accusing the mayor of proposing cuts that don't make sense.

After Brown announced his budget plan Monday, Clark described it as "complete laziness and total incompetence."

"What the budget we got, what it says is, 'Nothing is important to me. We're going to cut across the board,'" Clark said. "So a policeman is as important to me as cutting the grass on the side of the ditch, and it's not."

The proposed budget could wind up forcing the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office to cut hundreds of police officers and the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department to close fire stations.

"Policemen and firemen are more important. Our libraries are more important," Clark said. "So this isn't budgeting. It's simply a cheap and easy way out of what's going to be a very, very difficult budget process once again for the third year in a row for City Council."

The mayor is asking the council to agree to a $61 million cut for next year's budget, a proposal that amounts to $953 million in taxpayer money.

"I presented a balanced budget without raising taxes, without tapping into the city reserves," Brown said Wednesday on The Morning Show. "We're streamlining government to be more effective and efficient. But I also presented a retirement reform plan in May that really says, 'You know what, we've got an opportunity to really make sure that we do it right, that protects taxpayers and city employees.' It will save $1.2 billion over 30 years. It will save us $45 million in next year's budget."

Clark said coming up with how much really can be cut hinges on pension reform, and that is not the right way to try to balance any budget.

"We aren't going to be held with a gun to our head with pension reform," Clark said. "You don't balance a budget this year, one year's budget, on a pension deal."

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