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Budget bonanza: big capital spending as Jacksonville feels flush.

Jax

Jacksonville City Council launches budget review Thursday

The Mayor endorsed most members of the budget panel.

On Thursday, the Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee begins its first in a series of all-day reviews of Mayor Lenny Curry‘s proposed budget.

The sessions will be late in the week for the next few weeks, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 8-9, 15-16 and 21-23.

However, in years when the Mayor’s Office and the City Council align, as this year appears to be, those day-long sessions can often end before their scheduled times.

This budget is a particularly robust one, with millage collections and growth driving an optimistic $1.37 billion document, the biggest spending of the Curry era.

The difference between now and four years ago, in terms of narrative, is massive.

With a $173 million capital improvement budget (more than double Curry’s first $73M CIP), big ticket projects, such as multi-year and multi-million dollar capital projects at UF Health, the Florida Theater and the Zoo, are in play.

Curry has contended, regarding his budget, that the “next 4 years will be transformational & we will continue to disrupt the status quo of government.”

There will be a change in the presentation schedule compared to previous years. While Fire and Rescue will be taken up on the first day of hearings, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (typically the most prominent hearing) will be next week.

Wednesday morning includes a short introduction from the Curry administration, followed by a longform budget overview.

Besides the Fire and Rescue hearing, which will be slated for early afternoon, the Property Appraiser, Tax Collector, Clerk of Courts, City Council, Tourist Development Council, and General Counsel are on deck.

The Finance Committee is as favorable a draw as the Mayor’s Office could want during the budget process this summer.

Chairman Aaron Bowman, the current Council President, has been efficient over the last year, and will serve as chair.

Many members of the committee employed Curry’s chief consultant, Tim Baker: Council newcomers LeAnna Cumber, Randy DeFoor, and Ron Salem did, as well as Terrance Freeman. Democrat and Council VP Tommy Hazouri endorsed Curry for re-election.

Democrat Ju’Coby Pittman, though not part of the Curry machine, was appointed originally (as was Freeman) to the Council by Gov. Rick Scott.

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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