Finance committee proposes balanced city budget

Members made up nearly $1M difference Friday afternoon

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After weeks of debate, the city of Jacksonville's finance committee has come up with a balanced budget proposal to send before the City Council.

That plan includes higher projections for sales tax and even more cuts to already strapped city departments. The finance committee said it will work through the details at its meeting next week.

The committee was still nearly $1 million away from a balanced budget Friday afternoon, so they came up with a plan to change that.

To make up for a deficit of $993,626, committee members voted to increase projected sales tax revenue by $500,000. The rest of the deficit -- $493,626 -- would be covered by city departments in a one time "lapse."

Finance committee chair John Crescimbeni said he wasn't 100 percent proud of the solution, but it's the best they could do for now.

"It is what it is, and we'll move forward between now and the end of September to see if we can make it a little bit better than it is at this point," he said.

Three of the four committee members present wanted to include up to a half-million dollars in savings from a new contract for managing EverBank Field and the city's other sports complexes. But because the new contract hasn't yet been awarded to SMG or Global Spectrum, Crescimbeni voted against that option.

"I have no assurances from the mayor's office that anything's going to happen in the short term that we can bank those savings and use them in the next fiscal year," Crescimbeni said.

While Mayor Alvin Brown would not comment on that situation, he said this about the finance committee's proposal: "I presented a budget and there was a great debate, a great discussion, and that's what should take place. I'm happy were moving forward to the next phase."

That next phase is City Council approval. And according to council President Bill Bishop, there will be much more debate.

"I expect that there will be some other things that will change between now and then," Bishop said. "That's the process, that's usually what happens, but all in all I think they did a very good job."

The council will hear public comments at its meeting on Sept. 11.

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