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Jax Council Finance committee addresses budget items

It’s budget season in Jacksonville, and the city council’s finance committee spent a sliver of Thursday morning addressing seven budget bills, four of them action items, ahead of the Sept. 27 “budget night.”

Discussed in the agenda meeting ahead of the full meeting, Chair Anna Brosche noted that, as of now, the budget balances; with that in mind, any amendments with budget impacts would have to take money from somewhere else.

Among the bills tentatively approved were:

The millage rate for the City of Jacksonville was set, again, at 11.4419, creating estimated revenues of $545 million.

The millage rate for the beach communities was set at 8.15, creating an estimated revenue pot of $41.88 million.

Baldwin’s millage rate, set at 9.63, will bring in $404,579 in revenue.

All told, that’s over $587 million in revenue … well over half of the general fund budget.

Tentatively approved also was the omnibus budget bill at large.

After a relatively painless budget process in August, with many of the sessions ending ahead of schedule, few surprises were expected in Finance.

Perhaps that bodes well for budget night later this month.

In 2015, drama cropped up on budget night that had ramifications for months after.

A series of floor amendments, coupled with a last-minute push to ensure 16 fire and rescue safety officers were not demoted, resulted in a prolonged budget night process, and drama after the fact when it was revealed members of the council who had changed their votes had been texting with Randy Wyse, the head of the fire union, who was pushing for an allocation to keep these fire and rescue workers whole.

Wyse was pushing, as Chris Hong reported in The Florida Times-Union, to ensure fire chiefs didn’t lose $320,000 in salaries through 17 forced demotions to their previous ranks.

The money came from the stormwater fund.

From there, it got messy, with records of council member texts being requested, then reported, revealing the collusion.

A lawsuit from the Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County followed, as did a series of actions designed to curb texting by council members and concomitant potential violations of Sunshine Law.

Will any such drama happen this year?

Sept. 27 will tell the tale.

As of now, though, things seem copacetic.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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