Jacksonville mayor presents proposed 2021-2022 budget

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mayor Lenny Curry presented his $1.4 billion dollar budget for the City of Jacksonville’s 2021-22 fiscal year, before city council Tuesday. Curry said he has plans to invest in the future of Jacksonville by continuing to work to strengthen public safety and invest in the needs of the people.

“Since taking office in 2015, I’ve made it a priority to invest in communities and neighborhoods throughout all of Duval County and we’ve done that. But because of years of neglect and underinvestment, we’re still not where we need to be,” Mayor Curry said to city council members and those who filled council chambers.

Key points from his seventh budget presentation include:

  • $24M for county-wide road resurfacing
  • $50M for parks/pools/libraries/recreational services this year and $50M next year
  • $54M for drainage, resilience projects
  • $50M to phase out septic tanks
  • Nearly $500M for Capital Improvement Projects

Curry said public safety remains a top priority and that’s why he also proposes:

  • To include money to fund a third site for Cure Violence
  • $2.73M to create third Cure Violence site to combat crime
  • Add more than 70 full-time personnel for the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department
  • Raises for City of Jacksonville employees
  • $35M for UF Health this year and $40 million next year

“This budget is a demonstration of my commitment to sound stewardship of taxpayer dollars, while investing in key priorities & initiatives to keep our community moving forward,” Curry wrote in a tweet.

The mayor also said they’ve reached a tentative agreement with representatives of the city’s police and fire departments.

“They have selflessly served throughout a moment in history like no other. You will see raises for them accounted for in this budget. I believe they deserve these investments,” Curry said.

Action News Jax reported last week when the Jacksonville Community Action Committee, a local activist group, released their own version of the budget called The People’s Budget. The group believes the best way to tackle social issues is by prioritizing historically neglected issues with direct investment.

The organization released their response below and plan to rally to demand a People’s Budget at the next City Council meeting:

“This morning, Mayor Lenny Curry presented his proposed 2021-2022 budget to the City Council. The Jacksonville Community Action Committee has released a People’s Budget as an alternative and is calling on the city council to pass a budget that prioritizes the community first through direct investment into programs and supports that foster increased opportunity, development, livable wages, and robust public services throughout the city.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office currently receives about 40% of the city’s budget. Despite JSO’s consistent increase in funding, Jacksonville has not experienced a decrease in crime. The People’s Budget aims to address the social issues that contribute directly to crime and poor public health outcomes. It includes proposals for investment in living wage job opportunities, mental health services, and strengthened city infrastructure.

Community organizations have come together to respond to the Mayor’s proposed budget.

“It’s time for a different approach to solving the city’s problems,” said Maria Garcia, organizer with the JCAC. “The council may not be able to re-allocate funding from JSO this budget session, but they could raise more revenue by means of progressive taxing to fund the resources the community deserves.”

“Members of the city council should utilize critical thinking when they take a closer look at the Mayor’s proposed budget. The Council should evaluate, review and reject any line item that calls for an increase in budget for JSO. They should not just go along with whatever the Mayor proposes.”, said Ben Frazier, president of the Northside Coalition.

“We cannot and must not justify spending half a billion dollars every year on a broken institution accountable to no one but itself. If the police refuse our oversight, they must not be allowed to receive our money. Not when that money could be better spent addressing the root causes of crime rather than its symptoms.”, said Phillip Baber, Pastor of the People’s Church of Jacksonville. “Jacksonville’s city budget belongs to the people of Jacksonville” said Carlton Riley, organizer with Florida Rising. “Our contribution, our taxpayer money, is for investment in our communities’ growth and well being and city council members must spend more on affordable housing, job training and supporting infrastructure than on an unaccountable police force”.

Coalition partners will be planning to rally to demand a People’s Budget at the next City Council meeting on July 27th at 4pm.”