Mayor responds to budget criticism

Brown sticking by plan to not raise taxes

By Bruce Hamilton - The Morning Show anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Mayor Alvin Brown and the Jacksonville City Council are involved in a budget battle that has the rhetoric flying.

City councilman Richard Clark called the mayor's budget blueprint less than professional.

"We don't even know where the cuts are going," Clark said. "They don't know where the cuts are going. They didn't budget. It's the epitome of a combination of complete laziness and total incompetence. It's a ridiculous excuse for a budget."

On a Wednesday edition of The Morning Show, Brown responded.

"If you think about it, this goes on every year at the same time, and you've never read or heard that I would respond the way he did. I'm always going to remain professional, and I'm always going to have the lines open of communication. That's their way to communicate. That's his choice. But at the end of the day, we're going to sit down and work it out. And that's what we're going to do."

Brown also talked about a sense of deja vu in budget battle 2013 and the city's pension issue, a point of contention last year that's also a focal point this go-round.

"I presented a balanced budget without raising taxes, without tapping into the city reserves," Brown said. "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."

Brown said he is ready to open a dialogue with council, but under no circumstances is he going to go back on his pledge not to raise taxes.

The budget must be approved by Oct. 1.

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