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Politics

Mayor Alvin Brown To Present Budget Monday, Could Propose Library And Firehouse Closings

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Kevin Meerschaert
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Faced with a $64 million deficit, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown's budget could propose closing two fire stations and six libraries, and slashing funding for many programs including Legal Aid and Animal Control.

However, there is one caveat the Mayor will almost certainly bring up to the City Council: the vast majority of these proposed cuts can be avoided if it approves his pension reform plan.

Part of the deal worked out with the Police Fire and Pension Fund Board of Trustees allows the city to reduce its scheduled payment to the fund by $45 million. That would cut the projected deficit down to $19 million - a sum that can be easily addressed without closing fire stations and libraries. But the deal would have to be approved before the budget is finalized for that to happen. The budget must be approved before October 1.

While the Mayor has been trying to tie the budget in with pension reform, the City Council is has balked at that idea. It wants to treat them as separate issues.

Some on the Council have questioned the timing of the deal, and it is opposed by the Jacksonville Civic Council which has suggested a shorter deal of two to three years instead of 17. It also suggests the millage rate be increased, which the Mayor has refused to do.          

The City Council Finance Committee chaired by Greg Anderson will begin holding its budget hearings August 8, and will run all day on Thurday and Friday mornings throughout the month.

The Mayor will present his budget in Council Chambers at City Hall at 9AM. It will be streamed live online.