JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Millions use Jacksonville's libraries for researching, learning, even applying for jobs online. But Action News has learned those free and vital resources will be downsized across all 21 branches in Jacksonville.
"Some call it the graceful degradation of the library. I'm not sure I would use he word graceful any longer,” said Bill Reagan of the Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library.
Funding for the library is getting axed in the upcoming 2013 city budget. Mayor Alvin Brown's office told library leaders to slash $4.6 million next year. Action News just obtained the budget breakdown from the city.
A number of other departments will see similar funding fates. Jacksonville Fire and Rescue needs to cut 11 percent of its budget going into fiscal year 2013, a slash of $18 million. JSO is has a higher hurdle to overcome as they are $27 million over budget. A city spokesperson says pension costs have escalated tens of millions of dollars this year and that’s partly to blame. Mayor Brown unveiled the budget next week. His team has to figure out how to fill a $32 million gap by this weekend.
"I think, frankly, we have some structural problems in the whole operation of the city. I think just cutting is not the solution over future financial position,” said City Councilman Bill Gulliford.
From the public defender and state attorney to the parks department, everyone will be trimming their budgets.
“Ultimately, change requires pain and this is going to be painful,” said Reagan.
The mayor’s office must submit the fiscal year 2013 budget to City Council by July 15.