Inner-city voices heard as budget nears completion

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - While City Council has voted to raise property taxes about 10 percent next year to save police officers' jobs, fire stations, libraries and other city programs, some city are still slated to be cut. These include lunches for seniors, after-school programs for children, swimming pool hours reduced and community centers closed.

"A lot of people do not consider our youth when they think about public safety and youth programs," said Councilman Reggie Brown. "These are preventive programs that must take place in order to reduce crime in our community."

DOCUMENT: Final City Council Finance Committee budget actions

People from Jacksonville's urban core met with Brown and two other councilmen Friday to make sure inner-city neighborhoods are not taking an unfair share of the cuts.

"I think the quality of life for all human beings should be a priority," said Celia Miller, of the Durkeeville Neighborhood Association.

Councilman Warren Jones says he was among those supporting the tax increase to make sure essential services were funded.

"A lot of us supported the millage increase so we would not turn our city back and the programs that would not be funded will be funded this year," Jones said.

With two weeks to go before the final vote, there's still about $14 million of a nearly $1 billion budget that can be allocated.

"We are hoping that something will come out of this -- that neighborhoods will know what is going on," said Yvonne Ward.

Council will finalize the budget on Sept. 24.

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