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Sheriff John Rutherford Vows No Layoffs At JSO

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

After being asked by Mayor Alvin Brown to find $29 million in spending cuts for the coming year Sheriff John Rutherford instead has proposed a budget with far fewer cuts saying he couldn't make such reductions without endangering the safety of the public.

Rutherford says instead the city council needs to pass Mayor Brown's pension reform plan and approve a small property tax increase.

Rutherford addressed the first meeting of the Jacksonville Retirement Reform Task Force on Wednesday. He told them pension reform needs to be approve because the uncertainty over it is costing him officers who are leaving JSO for other municipalities.

Fire Chief Marty Senterfitt says the same thing is happening in his department.

Administration officials told the task force needs to support their pension plan saying it's a solid deal that will save more than one billion dollars over the next 30 years.

They also the plan needs to be approved quickly to help close a 64-million dollar budget shortfall. Mayor Brown will presenting his budget proposal to the city council on Monday. Administration officials say the budget will have to include many layoffs and the possible closings of six libraries, two fire stations and several community centers since the pension deal hasn't been approved and its projected savings can't be budgeted until it is.

The Jacksonville Civic Council has suggested the pension deal be rejected. It is proposing a new shorter deal along with an increase in revenue in the form of a property tax increase and higher fees for city services.

While the administration is trying to tie pension reform with the budget, City Council Finance Chair says they need to remain separate issues.