New budget could affect every city department

Residents fear budget will decrease police activity in community

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The city of Jacksonville's budget season is already starting with frustrated city leaders, and talk of major cuts to every department.

Mayor Alvin Brown presented his budget Monday calling for $61 million in cuts, which includes a 14 percent cut from every department. That could include cuts to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Channel 4's Scott Johnson visited some neighborhoods that have had recent police activity to find out how residents feel about that.

Tim Townsend moved May 1 to a Westside neighborhood where there has been a string of violent crimes.

"Were you surprised to hear about the shootings?"

"Yes, in this area, I was," said Townsend.

Townsend was stunned to see the news last week of a shooting at a nearby restaurant and pharmacy, then the next day police shot the suspect. In addition, this weekend two brothers were shot and killed at a Golden Corral a few miles away, so you can imagine his response to the other news item of the day: Mayor Alvin Brown is proposing deep budget cuts of 14 percent that could affect police.

"Watching the news and coming from another place, I thought I was coming to a safe place," said Townsend. "It's not a good thing to take police out of communities. It's just not."

A number of his neighbors feel the same way.

"I want to feel safe in my own home and I want police around to let criminals know they're being watched," Said Patricia Moore.

The jury's still out on what the cuts will mean. Members of the City Council have criticized the mayor's budget that calls for 14 percent cuts across the board, with equal cuts at police and lesser utilized departments.

Sheriff John Rutherford said he refuses to cut officers, but as of now the budget will need to be cut short of a pension deal being reached.

One thing Mayor Alvin Brown said he refuses to do is raise taxes.

"I think the mayor should look back at if people were willing to pay more property taxes.

"If it kept you safe, you would be willing?"

"Oh yeah, yeah. I don't mind paying my fair share," said Myra Kremer.

The budget must be approved by October 1.

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