JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- After weeks of heated, sometimes contentious council debates, the finance committee completed its version of the city's budget.
"A budget that began with a $65 million hole, we have combed through every department, we have made hard decisions," announced finance chairman Greg Anderson.
The plan still has a nearly $50 million hole. That gap will be filled by a tax increase, barring any significant changes by the full council.
Action News has learned a homeowner's annual tax bill of $1,003 will jump to about $1,117 on a home valued at $100,000.
"We have cut out just about everything we could possibly cut out," said councilman Bill Bishop. "We have, over the last four years or five years that I've been on the council, been steadily reducing these things. And we are at the point where certain services just simply won't function anymore."
A tax hike ensures the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office doesn't have to lay off any officers. Sheriff John Rutherford got every dollar he requested from the finance committee.
The same protection couldn't be said for the public libraries. Even before Thursday's meeting, two branches were slated to close.
Councilwoman Denise Lee made a passionate, last protest to keep every location open. Mayor Alvin Brown's budget called for six libraries to close. The finance committee previously voted to restore funding to four of the six libraries.
"If you're going to close one, then you need to close all. If you're going to restore four, then we need to restore all, and that's all the comment I have on that," said Lee.
Lee's pitch passed, tentatively keeping every Jacksonville library open.
The St. Johns River Ferry was also a hot topic at the final meeting for the finance committee. A couple of dozen people attended to protest any cuts to the service.
"To not have that experience, I think, would be a disservice to everyone," said Elaine Cullen, a frequent rider of the ferry.
The mayor did not allocate any money for ferry operations in his budget. Council finance members allocated about $450,000 to keep the service running.
There's also talk of recruiting funding assistance from the Jacksonville Transportation Authority.
The full City Council will take up the current proposed budget Sept. 24.