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Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry wants no JSO budget cuts.

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Jacksonville City Council to mull deferred funding for police

Call it law enforcement on a layaway plan.

Call it law enforcement on a layaway plan.

A Jacksonville City Council member will introduce a floor amendment in Tuesday night’s budget hearings to defer six months of appropriations for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Second-term Councilman Garrett Dennis proposes putting half the JSO budget, amounting to $234,039,196, “below the line.”

While the money would be encumbered, the department would have to make its case for the release before the midway point of the fiscal year.

Dennis contends this is not a move to “defund the police,” but Mayor Lenny Curry is messaging as if that is the case, calling the Dennis proposal “dangerous and reckless.”

70% of the people of Jacksonville oppose cutting the Sheriff’s budget. Just over 20% support it. I’m with the 70,” Curry tweeted Tuesday morning.

In fact, polling does exist, with consultant Tim Baker having done a countywide survey on a different topic, and 70% oppose cutting funding, while 23% of those polled support the proposition.

There is an open question as to whether Dennis’ proposal will even get 23% of the support on the Jacksonville City Council.

“There will be NO DEFUNDING the sheriff’s budget. Will not happen. The finance committee passed the JSO budget as a whole and I will fight hard to keep it like that. At the same time working hard for MORE prevention & intervention funding! No pitting these 2 against each other,” tweeted Councilman Matt Carlucci, the first-term Republican who chairs the City Council’s Finance Committee.

The budget drama in Jacksonville comes after Gov. Ron DeSantis launched a legislative proposal to crack down on cities that push to “defund the police.”

A so-called “citizen and taxpayer protection measure” would block state grants and aid to local governments cutting law enforcement budgets.

“If you defund the police, then the state is going to defund any grant or aid coming to you,” DeSantis told reporters Monday in Polk County.

While the conservative movement drama of the “Defund the Police” movement is the most headline-grabbing thing about Jacksonville’s budget consideration Tuesday evening, it obscures what is a relatively free-spending plan for the fiscal year starting in October.

The $1.34 billion FY 2021 budget includes almost $239 million in infrastructure spending for 121 projects citywide, more than triple the commitment in Curry’s first budget.

The five-year plan, which includes out years where a different Mayor will be issuing budgets, is even more ambitious: 270 projects and a $1.66 billion projected spend.

This includes, the Mayor said this summer, “over $100 million in Northwest Jax where promises have been broken for decades.”

Written By

A.G. 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 AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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