New Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry dined with City Council members at a City Hall luncheon on his first full day in office, Thursday.
Curry filled the Council in about the status of the city’s budget and talked ideas.
Curry began the meeting by announcing he will be literally unlocking a door that separates City Council from the mayor at City Hall. Curry says the door has been locked up for years and puts up an unnecessary barrier between the legislative and executive branches.
“The Council president and a number of others of Council suggested to me that they thought that the door sent the wrong message,” Curry said. “So it’s pretty simple, we’re just going to unlock it.”
Curry has pushed the notion of unity since his inauguration.
City Council sat around a big table with Curry and Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa.
Over the last few weeks, Mousa met with every city department and asked their representatives to justify the department’s needs. And soon, Curry says, transition teams he assembled will make budget recommendations.
The transition teams having been tackling issues as diverse as at-risk youth and infrastructure.
"We’ll get recommendations, we’ll go through them, we’ll prioritize them, and those will take time, Curry said. “There will be a period of time where we implement the recommendations that make sense.”
Curry says a top priority is the revival of the Jacksonville Journey initiative. The Journey would fund nonprofit programs aimed at stopping violent crime in the city. He says the programs would be closely monitored to ensure the money is spent wisely.
“As we disburse that money to them and our budget, this cycle and in the years ahead, the message is going to be, 'We need to know what you’re doing. We need to know that it’s a part of the priority and it needs to be measured by the oversight committee,'” Curry said.
Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa won’t confirm which departments will take financial hits, but he says public safety will be the priority for Curry.
Some city workers may be let go. Curry says appointed city workers will have to be re-appointed by him. He says they’re all being evaluated.
“I think that we’ve got really good employees here,” Curry said. “We just need to know who they are and what they do, and we’re going to be doing that in the weeks and months ahead.”
Mousa says it’s best to spend conservatively as the mayor examines the city’s finances.