Mayor aims to restore city services

Officials say legislation would boost economic development, quality of life

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Mayor Alvin Brown on Monday announced legislation to help restore city services that were cut during the last budget process.

He said his goal is to make an immediate impact on economic development and quality of life.

The legislation will provide about $660,000 to increase the frequency of mowing city right-of-ways, $300,000 to reactivate streetlights in industrial and commercial areas, and nearly $90,000 to help Jacksonville Sheriff's Office employees with job-related educational expenses. The legislation will also provide a nearly $500,000 boost to economic development in Northwest Jacksonville and near Jacksonville International Airport.

"In last year's challenging fiscal environment, I worked with City Council to close a nearly $80 million deficit without increasing taxes," Brown said in a news release. "We had to make difficult choices to balance the budget, and at times those choices impacted services. I am pleased that we now have the ability to make some of these investments in our economic future and quality of life."

Earlier, the Brown Administration introduced the legislation to use funds remaining in a former Jacksonville Economic Development Commission account and local matching funds set aside for unrealized Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) grants to provide additional funding to right-of-way mowing and park maintenance and cover the lapse in the budget, according to the news release.

Following the end of the last fiscal year on Sept. 30, the City Finance Department embarked on its annual financial review and determined that the city had additional unspent funds from the previous fiscal year, according to the release. Based on those findings, the Brown Administration proposes to amend the legislation and make the following investments:

  • $660,000 to increase the frequency of maintaining city right-of-ways.
  • $300,000 for streetlight activation to restore the lighting-related cutbacks in last year's budget. The city will work with JEA and commercial property owners to explore whether LED lighting would be appropriate to replace the more expensive photo cell bulbs.
  • $89,500 to help Fraternal Order of Police employees in the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office with job-related educational expenses. The city's contract with the Fraternal Order of Police provides that the city contribute $60,000 to educational reimbursements for JSO employees. That required funding has been exhausted and this investment would allow additional JSO employees to receive educational reimbursement.

Additionally, the Brown Administration is seeking to allow two economic development zones to keep funds that were unspent at the end of the last fiscal year:

  • $430,000 for the Soutel/King Community Redevelopment Area (CRA), an economic zone in Northwest Jacksonville focused on housing, retail and commercial development.
  • $67,000 for the JIA CRA, an economic zone near the Jacksonville International Airport focused on increasing employment and recruiting businesses.

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