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Jax City Council Passes $19.9M CARES Reallocation; JSO, JFRD Getting $17M

Jacksonville City Hall
Jacksonville City Hall

The Jacksonville City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to pass legislation reallocating $19.9 million in federal CARES Act funding.

The biggest beneficiary of the reallocation is the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD). Almost $17 million is going to the two departments to reimburse them for employee overtime pay dating back to March 2020, when Jacksonville and much of the United States started implementing COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions.

The Council decided to hold an emergency vote on the ordinance because the city has until Dec. 31 to spend the $167 million given to them through the CARES Act, or they will lose access to the remaining money. The Council’s next meeting is at the end of July, meaning the reallocation would have been delayed a month if the emergency vote was not held.

Smaller allocations are going to other organizations that were affected by, or provided public services during, the pandemic. The Jacksonville Symphony is receiving $1 million. District 13 Councilmember Rory Diamond amended the legislation to send $172,276 to the Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry, an organization that helps with overdue bills and provides food in the Jacksonville beaches area.

“These funds were intended to help in the wave of everything that happened with COVID,” Diamond said. “I couldn’t think of anything more on the money than an organization that helps with the homeless, the hungry.”

To fund these changes, the bill took unspent funds from other areas, including $4.6 million from the city’s small business relief loans fund, and $2.8 million from its eviction and foreclosure prevention fund. 

Below is a full list detailing how the allocations are changing.

Money being reallocated from:

  • Grants to support small business relief loans - $4.6 million
  • Expenses not reimbursed by FEMA - $12.5 million
  • Eviction and foreclosure prevention program - $2.8 million

Areas receiving funding:

  • JSO and JFRD overtime incurred since March 2020 - $16.8 million
  • Jacksonville Symphony COVID business harm - $1 million
  • Cathedral District Jax COVID business harm - $50,000
  • Health Department enhanced services contract - $250,000
  • Emergency Operations Center systems/equipment upgrades - $488,016
  • Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry - $172,276
  • To be determined for future COVID qualifying expenses - $1,127,724

Tristan Wood can be reached at newsteam@wjct.orgor on Twitter at @TristanDWood.

Tristan is WJCT’s 2021 Summer Reporting Intern. He has previously worked as the City and County Commission reporter for the Independent Florida Alligator, Gainesville’s student-run newspaper, and Fresh Take Florida, a news service working in partnership with the Associated Press to cover the Florida Legislature and select political news stories across the state.