JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville City Council started off the day $6.5 million in the hole with a solution needed by Friday. But, after several more hours in council chambers Wednesday, that number has dwindled down to $1.6 million.
"A $1.6 million deficit is certainly better than a $12 or $13 million deficit, so it makes the job a little easier,” said Finance Chairman John Crescimbeni.
So how did they do it?
For starters, the traffic court will no longer be housed on Beach Boulevard. They’re saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent by moving it into the new courthouse. They also issued about a dozen staff layoffs. But, the big savings came from Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) funds. The Finance Committee decided to move money, to the tune of $4 million, from CRA funds into the general pot.
“Instead of spending monies that are generated by some tax-increment districts on projects within the boundaries of that tax-increment district, those monies are going to be swept out and used for general fund expenditures,” Crescimbeni said.
As of Wednesday night, Crescimbeni said they’re still unsure which agencies will bear the brunt of the rest of the cuts. But with only two days left to balance the budget, the clock is certainly ticking.
The reason the budget must be balanced by the Finance Committee by Friday is to give taxpayers enough time to review it before public hearings begin as mandated by state statute.
“We have to be ready. We have no choice. So, we have to do it,” said Crescimbeni.
The Finance Committee is scheduled to meet again at 9 a.m. Thursday morning.