JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The clock is ticking for the city to balance its budget. The city council finance committee met all day to come up with solutions. By the end of the day Thursday, there was still a $668,000 gap to fill.
One motion passed by the committee this week is to move traffic court and the Clerk of Court’s office on Beach Boulevard into the new Duval County courthouse. That will save an estimated $800,000 a year.
But problems with the Duval County courthouse's handicap accessibility sparked some concerns for council members.
"We have got to stop playing these stupid silly games. Somebody ought to be able to make a darn decision on what we can do forward on relocating the traffic court,” said committee chairman John Crescimbeni.
Fixing 100 to 500 doors at the courthouse could cost up to $5 million. Crews may need to install automatic push buttons on many of doors. Representatives with Mayor Alvin Brown’s office say the city is at odds with Turner Construction on the issue. Councilman Crescimbeni wanted to know how long we have to wait until the problem is solved. A question the city could not answer.
"We regret that we can't be more forthcoming as to give you a specific date but I can assure you that we are in meetings and we are working to try to resolve this as expeditiously as possible,” said Cleveland Ferguson, Jacksonville’s Dep. Chief Administrative Officer.
Crescimbeni asked if the city could resolve the issue by January 1 but Ferguson said that was unlikely.
Former city council president, Stephen Joost, said that it’s still the right move to send the traffic court operations into the Duval County courthouse, despite its ADA compliance issues.
The biggest cuts Thursday came from police/fire pensions and from a sheriff’s trust fund. There are only two groups left to face the Finance Committee: Public Works and the Jacksonville Children’s Commission.
“Most likely we’re going to have to find some cuts in those two areas before the close of business tomorrow,” Crescimbeni said.
The finance committee has until the end of the day Friday to balance the budget.