JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- During the final regular city council meeting before the final budget vote is approved, Jacksonville city council members decided not to set a final millage rate, preventing them from further discussing any changes.
"I'm as reluctant as anybody to go with a higher millage rate," said Council Member Robin Lumb, "but at this point I don't think that's appropriate."
Last week, the finance committee approved a tentative budget, and filled a $50 million hole in by cutting some community services and increasing property taxes by 1.17 mills.
Since then, a number of amendments have been filed, many on behalf of community groups who are asking for their money back.
Now, those group will have two more weeks to flood council members with their requests.
In a vote of 13 to 2, the council voted not to cap the tax rate Tuesday, meaning it could still increase taxes to the max of 1.5 mills.
It was a decision that frustrated Connie Benham, who says there's now a higher chance of higher taxes.
"They're just going to keep going and spend all the money until the money is all gone. If there are things that you want to be funded then go through the budget yourselves and find something that isn't near as high priority and unfund that."
Council Vice President Clay Yarborough was one of two council members who voted against a delay, saying the finance committee has spent 70 hours preparing the budget so far, and more time will only make tough decisions tougher.
"The finance committee has worked very hard and I'd rather support that action, at this point, instead of trying to work in increasing amounts that come out of that available pot, and keep that tax rate lower for our taxpayers instead to trying to spend everything because we have it on the table."
Council will discuss all amendments plus hold a final public hearing Sept. 24 before vote to confirm final budget.
Action News was sent this statement from Mayor Brown's office Tuesday:
"Mayor Brown opposes tax increases. He proposed a retirement reform plan that would have saved $1.2 billion over 30 years, including $45 million for the upcoming budget that avoided a tax increase. While we are disappointed some Council members short-circuited that savings, we look forward to working with Council to finalize the most efficient budget plan possible this month."