Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown

Big holes in his budget and pension deal


In July, Mayor Alvin Brown presented his 2013-’14 budget to the Jacksonville City Council, and before he could give himself a hand, Council members and a packed house of community leaders and residents were already preparing for battle. As part of the $953 million budget, Brown announced plans to drastically cut public works and library services, close fire stations and slash $29 million from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s budget. (Incidentally, financing the Police & Fire Pension Fund, the largest of the city’s pension funds, has been a major contributor to the current budget deficit.) Of course, taxpayers were relieved to hear Brown ensure that taxes would not be taken to the next level, but Sheriff John Rutherford said raising the millage rate was the only way to resolve the budget crisis without jeopardizing citizens’ safety. Conveniently, Brown had another plan up his sleeve. By making a deal with the public safety unions, he created a second budget with smaller cuts if the City Council approved his pension plan. Councilman Richard Clark referred to the mayor’s proposed budget as “utterly incompetent,” while other Council members expressed their frustration toward Brown, who left it up to them to make his controversial plan work and essentially choose between major cuts and a bad pension deal. As if to soften the blow, the mayor’s staff has maintained the budget had nothing to do with the city’s attempts to finance its $43 million commitment to install enormous scoreboards and swimming pools at EverBank Field, which would be convenient for Brown’s detractors who wish he would “take a flying leap.”

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