Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown holds community meeting

Springfield neighbors question budget cuts

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown is trying to balance the budget and keep citizens happy. He dealt with both of the issues Thursday night at a community town hall meeting in Springfield.

The Mayor told residents that to keep services they enjoy, a pension reform deal must be passed.

Brown said the city needs to make $64 million worth of cuts to fill the budget, but he remained positive during Thursday's meeting.

Allison D'Aurizio showed up at Thursday's meeting with a specific topic on her mind: All the boarded up homes on her street.

"Very drug laden, it's heavy in abandoned houses and empty houses, and it's really my biggest concern having young children," said D'Aurizio.

D'Aurizio told Brown that police response times in her neighborhood have been excellent. Response times could change if a pension reform deal isn't reached and Sheriff John Rutherford is forced to cut $29 million from his budget, which he told City Council on Wednesday would mean cutting hundreds of jobs.

DOCUMENTS: Fire proposed cuts | Sheriff's Office proposed budget

"They are fast to come. I am hoping that continues and I am hoping the partnership continues," said D'Aurizio. "That they see a problem, it's been very effective in the past."

Another woman addressed the meeting Thursday night, saying that she works at an animal rescue facility. The woman explained to Mayor Brown that more budget cuts to Animal Care and Control would be crippling.

"We're doing all we can," said the woman. "We need the city to do more."

The Mayor told the crowd that once pension reform is passed, their concerns would be addressed.

"We get retirement reform approved, we won't have to do all these major cuts. I'm optimistic we'll be able to get it done," said Brown.

Mayor Brown isn't the only one who hopes that major cuts won't happen, Dave McDonald, who told Channel 4 he chips in $50 a month with his neighbors to hire extra police presence, also told Brown how the cuts would hurt his community.

"We have a pretty high population of homeless, when they get out of jail they travel through here," said McDonald. "We need community centers, we need police for that, so I'm sure that's gonna impact us somehow."

Brown is still working on his budget plan and will present his budget address at 9 a.m. Monday.

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