JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- After countless hours and countless mistakes, Jacksonville's budget is finally balanced. But it wasn't easy. On the very last day to do it, the finance committee faced a near million dollar deficit.
"I'm disappointed in the position that the committee has been put in. I've served on the council nearly 12 years, finance committee for many years, I don't ever recall ending up at the end of the process with a deficit," said Finance Chairman John Crescimbeni.
It took a last ditch motion by Councilman Stephen Joost to dwindle the deficit down to zero. Instead of more cuts, he proposed bumping up the projected sales tax revenue by $500,000 with the hope that it will materialize. The committee also approved an across the board one-time extraordinary lapse, or expense reduction, to the general fund of more than $493,000.
It was approved unanimously, but not everyone who voted for it was thrilled with it.
"We do have a balanced budget. I'm not 100 percent proud of what we ended up with," said Crescimbeni.
Crescimbeni said this year when it comes to the budget it's been just one mistake after the next.
"We started off day one with a $5 million error, before the day was over we had another $1 million error, then there was a $3 or $4 million error. We just got off the start by digging a big hole and we just never came out of it," he said.
So who is to blame?
Some council members say it's a result of the new administration's inexperience.
"I think there was definitely a learning curve involved in the process. To me, it's to be expected because a whole new group of people came in," said Joost.
But to Connie Benham, a regular at City Hall, there is no excuse.
"It's upsetting. This is by far one of the worst budgets we've received as the people. Nobody wants the cuts in their areas, but the only people who are going to pay for it in the end will be the community at large," Benham said.
Mayor Alvin Brown proposed his $945 million budget last month. The full council is scheduled to vote on the budget at the end of September.