by: Samuel King Updated:
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Mayor Alvin Brown called for no new property tax hikes and a big push to invest in jobs in his balanced budget presentation to City Council Monday morning.
“We must invest in jobs. It remains our number one priority. In Jacksonville we want people working," said Brown.
The budget, estimated to be $1.04 billion, includes $16.8 million in reserve spending. The mayor wants a $12 million investment into renovations at the Jacksonville Landing.
"This is a dynamic time for our city,” said Brown. "Our unemployment rate is falling and our high school graduation rate is rising. Foreclosures are down and home values are up. Our businesses are investing, our port is expanding and our college-educated population is growing. Our Downtown is coming alive, our neighborhoods are getting rid of blight and our parks are being enjoyed by millions of visitors."
Brown also said he supports JSO's Operation Cease Fire and called for 40 new police officers and 40 additional community service officers.
The other highlights include restoring service hours to the Main Library downtown, a boost in the city's investment to phase out septic tanks to help protect the St. Johns River, a renewed investment in the park system and equestrian center, and ending homelessness in Jacksonville. The library would also get $500,000 to help it update its materials.
The mayor's budget calls for $750,000 to be spent on phase 1 developments in Five Points. UF Health is tapped to receive $2.5 million in funding to help more people get access to health care.
The city will continue to invest in One Spark, doubling its investment to $100,000.
"It's about getting the best return from our investment, not only for tomorrow but for today, now. And to make a positive impact for years to come. This is not about us, it's about our kids and grandkids," said Brown. "Together we have the power to achieve pension reform for once and for all," the Mayor added.
The budget is subject to approval by City Council. Some members are already raising concerns about spending.
The final budget must be approved by the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1.