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Law & Order

JSO Undersheriff: We Cannot Afford More Budget Cuts

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

During his first appearance on First Coast Connect, Jacksonville Undersheriff Dwain Senterfitt echoed statements Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford has made during his recent appearances on the program.

"I don't want to get too much into the politics of what's being discussed," said Senterfitt. "What I can tell you is that our department simply can't absorb any more (budget) cuts."

The sheriff's department, like all other agencies in the city, has been asked to absorb a 14 percent across-the-board budget cut. 

Senterfitt says the funds lost would force unacceptable cuts to police and corrections personnel.  The cuts would amount to a $29 million reduction in the sheriff's budget.

The Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee will take up debate on the JSO budget August 29th.

Last week, the committee restored an additional $12 million to the budget of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, money will be used to hire about 100 new firefighters.

Fire and Rescue Chief Marty Senterfitt had asked for more, but says he can keep the stations open if he's allowed to adjust his overtime budget mid-year.

Mayor Alvin Brown's administration has proposed deep citywide cuts to fill a $64 million budget hole. The proposed cuts were initially projected to result in the closing of fire stations, libraries and community centers.

At the same time, the city is dealing with a multi-million dollar unfunded pension liability.

City Council President Bill Gulliford has blamed Mayor Alvin Brown for Jacksonville's budget woes, and said if he was going to insist on keeping his pledge not to raise taxes and fees he should "man up" and come up with a budget that was viable.

During a recent appearance on First Coast Connect, Mayor Brown defended his budget proposal and reiterated his "no-new-taxes" pledge, saying he felt it would be improper to raise taxes on struggling Jacksonville residents still dealing with high unemployment and foreclosures.