JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- City council halted debate at 2 a.m. as members tackle a $953 million budget and a likely tax rate hike for homeowners in Jacksonville.
Council will reconvene at 2 p.m. Wednesday to vote on more than a dozen more amendments.
Council members spent about 6 hours debating the first half of 40 floor amendments.
As it stands right now, amendments made to the current budget proposal call for a raise of 1.34 mills out of a maximum increase of 1.5 mills.
City council members voted to allow your millage rate to rise as much as 15% (1.5 mills). In real money terms, that breaks down to an increase of $150 a year on a house with a taxable value of $150,000.
City council members still have $6.8 million to spend before reaching that cap.
Handing over $2.5 million to UF Health to improve indigent care was the first topic that drew a range of sharp responses.
Councilman Clay Yarborough proposed supporting the measure but with only $1.5 million.
That proposal was eventually voted down.
Council ultimately supported the move for $2.5 million, citing the hospital is a significant economic driver in the community and is worthy of the funds.
Council spent little time debating additional money for the Jacksonville Journey. In total, the program dedicated to curbing crime with programs aimed at youth education and crime awareness gained $880,000.
Talk of spending nearly a half-million to keep the Main Library downtown open on Saturdays drew harsh words from several council members.
Councilmen Richard Clark and Stephen Joost pointed out that Finance Committee members restored millions of dollars to keep every branch open and library reps failed to bring up Saturday hours during early discussions in committee hearings.
Joost says the issue was an effort to tear council members apart and was a ploy to squeeze every penny out of the full council.
In the end, $449,000 was restored so the branch can stay open for 8 hours every Saturday.
The city budget has changed dramatically from its initial proposal by Mayor Alvin Brown. Many council members criticized the mayor for handing off a proposal that left millions in unspecified cuts, but balanced the budget with no tax increases.
Once council votes on the overall budget, the mayor has the power to veto specific expenditures but can not veto the budget as a whole. A spokesman with Mayor Alvin Brown tells Action News they will review the council's budget this week and will likely veto specific items by Friday.
A veto from the mayor will take 2/3 of council to override.
A spokesman for Mayor Brown said his office will not be commenting until council votes on the final budget.
A balanced budget for the City of Jacksonville has to be in place by Oct. 1.