Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry presented his $1.37 billion budget to the Jacksonville City Council Monday. As it has in years past, the mayor’s spending plan focuses on public safety and economic development.
Curry said he campaigned on a promise to make public safety his top priority and he’s made improvements since then.
“Together as a community, we continue to take steps to combat violent crime with major investment in personnel, resources and technology,” he said. “We have invested in the manpower and resources law enforcement needs need protect and serve.
More than $70 million in additional funding is earmarked for public safety initiatives.
The funding will support Cure Violence, a recently implemented program to combat violence through public health strategies. It will also allow the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to add more personnel to the Real Time Crime Center, as well as better integrate shot spotter technology, which alerts police within minutes of gun fire.
Curry’s budget also allocates $3.8 million to put officers in the Duval School District, up from last year’s $3.3 million. The Kids Hope Alliance, a joint program between the city and the State Attorney’s Office to help underserved youth, would get a $2.6 million increase.
“I’ve held too many grieving mothers and I’ve spoken to many young people. They’re facing real challenges every day,” he said. “We must demonstrate to our at hope youth that there is another way forward toward prosperity and a place away from danger.”
As for economic development, Curry said people will not recognize downtown Jacksonville in four years.
“I'm 100% committed to making downtown the heart of this city in the heart of Northeast Florida,” he said. “We're going to continue to take bold actions this year, and in the years ahead, that will develop and reshape our urban core into the vibrant heart of this region.”
In his first year in office, Curry allocated just shy of $73 million to address infrastructure needs. This year’s budget - which is Curry’s fifth - more than doubles that to $173.5 million.
That increase in funding will support, among other things, drainage and road-safety improvements in Brooklyn. Urban core railroad crossing upgrades and sidewalk repairs are also included..
The plan also includes $1.5 million in dock redevelopment at Mayport, $5 million for capital improvements at the Jacksonville Zoo, as well as $1 million each for the Florida Theatre, Ritz Theatre, and Prime Osborn Center. Additionally, Curry wants to allocate $5 million for a new firehouse in Arlington and another $5 million to renovate fire stations throughout the city.
Curry said the increase in property values and tax revenues have allowed the city’s budget to expand without raising taxes.
The budget proposal will go through committee reviews and two public hearings. A final budget must be approved by the full Council before October 1.
“My first four were unanimous. This is my fifth and me and my staff are going to work with them and make the case,” he said. “And I feel this is a budget that prioritises the people of Jacksonville. I feel good about it.”