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Funding For City Fire Stations Restored

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Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department
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The Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee has placed an additional $12 million in the budget of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.

The money will be used to hire about 100 new firefighters. Due to budget cuts in recent years the department is at the same staff level it was at in 2003.

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

Committee members expressed anger the that fire department even had to consider closing stations.

All city agencies were asked to cut their budgets an additional 13.88 percent in early June. That's why the stations were on the chopping block, along with six libraries and several community centers.

Council President Bill Gulliford blamed Mayor Alvin Brown 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.

The committee was also scheduled to take up the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office budget on Friday, but ran out of time. The JSO budget will now be debated August 29.

Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.