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City Chief Financial Officer Ronnie Belton met with reporters Tuesday after Mayor Alvin Brown’s tentative budget was released.
Photo by David Chapman
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Brown proposes $971 million City budget

by David Chapman, Staff Writer

Mayor Alvin Brown filed a $971 million tentative budget Tuesday with City Council that includes a $58 million deficit, almost the same as last year.

Brown needs to close the gap by mid-July, when the final budget is due to Council. The budget must be approved before the 2012-13 fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

City Chief Financial Officer Ronnie Belton said Tuesday that the gap will not be closed by increasing taxes, fees or the millage rate or by dipping into reserves.

“We think we can do it without addressing those four issues,” Belton said.

Project revenues are down $45 million, to $913 million from $958 million, in the tentative 2012-13 budget compared with the current budget.

The deficit stems from a projected downturn in property taxes and collections from the half-cent sales tax. Both sources are expected to be down by about $19 million, totaling about $38 million.

“We put in all the things that we know are issues for us,” Belton said.

That also includes a $23 million increase in pension contributions and other health care related costs.

Asked if Brown would have a pension reform deal in place that could offset the deficit in the upcoming budget cycle, Belton said the administration is “working on it.”

“We want to, we plan to,” Belton said.

Belton said the administration hopes that property tax and sales tax collections improve over the next couple of months, which would help offset the deficit.

Brown proposes that the millage rate remain stable at 10.0353 mills for the general services district, although Florida statutes would allow a “rolled-back” of 10.4919 in the coming year in order for the City to remain revenue neutral from the current year.

A mill is equal to $1 in tax revenue for every $1,000 in assessed value.

The tentative budget also represents about $11 million worth of savings from City departments Belton said have come from department heads. In the past, Brown has proposed departmental savings of about 15 percent.

Belton said the current savings average about 10 percent, which is “a moving number.”

Belton said the budget proposal issued Tuesday is a work-in-progress.

“The real work is now,” Belton said.

He said the final budget proposal will be presented to Council July 16, but over the next several weeks he said administration officials will meet individually with Council members to discuss the budget and concerns.

Three Council members said late Tuesday they would carefully review it.

“My question is what happened to the 10-15 percent savings that (the reorganization plan) was supposed to bring?,” asked Council Vice President Bill Bishop.

Bishop said the Council was seeing “a redo” of last year’s budget process.

“The mayor didn’t give us a preliminary balanced budget, (it’s) more of a snapshot of where they are at the moment,” Bishop said.

“We are in the same spot we were in last year, thinking, ‘How are we going to do this?’” he said.

Warren Jones, vice chairman of the Council Finance Committee, said late Tuesday afternoon that he had not had time to review the proposed budget.

“We will have a full review over the next two weeks,” he said.

“My question is, how are they going to plug that $58 million hole in the budget?”

Council member Jim Love said the budget was “what we expected.”

“It’s not a balanced budget,” Love said.

He said revenues were down because of declining property values.

The process “will be similar to last year. We want to hold the line on taxes and fees” Love said.

“We are going to have to work on the expense side. We did it last year. We are going to do it again this year,” he said.

Love said he hasn’t seen a timeline from the administration about savings from the mayor’s reorganization.

“The mayor will be asking department heads for more ways to save money,” he said.

Love said it’s early in the budget process.

“We got through it last year. We will get through it again. The mayor remains committed to not raise taxes or fees,” he said.

The tentative budget shows:

• Revenues will decline. Of the 16 line items, 12 are down while four are up.

• Expenditures are up. Of the 35 line items, including transfers to other funds, 20 increased, 14 decreased and one, the contribution to Shands Jacksonville, remained neutral.

• Both the police and fire budgets have a proposed increase. The budget for Office of the Sheriff is up $18.6 million, while fire and rescue is up $8.5 million.

• Under transfers to other funds, Brown’s proposed Office of Economic Development, which is expected to replace the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission, is projected to receive a bump. Fiscal 2012 has its budget at $6.3 million, up from $4.8 million this year for the JEDC.


Staff Writer Joe Wilhelm Jr. contributed to this report.

dchapman@baileypub.com

356-2466

The breakdown

Here’s a look at Brown’s proposed tentative budget submitted Tuesday to Council.

Revenues

FY2012FY2013 TentativeDifference
Property taxes – net$454,805,549$435,579,809($19,225,740)
Utility service taxes$132,453,917$129,938,000($2,515,917)
Other taxes$1,097,022$1,025,500($71,522)
Franchise fees$44,227,187$42,697,000($1,530,187)
Licenses and permits$7,634,660$7,400,000($234,660)
JEA contributions$104,187,538$106,687,538$2,500,000)
Half-cent sales tax$74,305,912$55,636,706($18,669,206)
City revenue sharing$23,286,780$21,507,000($1,779,780)
County revenue sharing$23,237,526$23,500,000$262,474
Other revenue sharing$7,438,376$4,601796($2,836,580)
Ambulance fees$16,206,895$19,567,950 $3,361,055
Other charges for services$38,241,142$38,069,398($171,744)
Fines and forfeits$2,575,133$2,525,986($49,147)
Interest income$6,810,696$3,403,418($3,407,278)
Miscellaneous Revenue$15,861,417$16,288,277($426,860)
Other sources$5,453,776$4,521,460($932,316)
Total revenues$957,823,526$912,949,838($44,873,688)

Expenditures

FY2012FY2013 TentativeDifference
Advisory boards$419,354$430,251$10,897
City Council$7,998,083$8,214,586$216,503
Courts$884,121$615,669($268,452)
Employee services$6,336,559$5,882,252($454,307)
Finance$6,274,735$5,719,599($555,136)
Fire and rescue$160,842,607$169,344,090$8,501,483
General counsel$227,508$230,026$2,518
Human Rights Commission$901,518$913,453$11,935
Intra-governmental services$8,381,978$8,518,803$136,825
Jacksonville City-wide activities$28,963,192$16,195,170($12,768,170)
Shands Contribution$23,775,594$23,775,594$0
Mayor’s office$3,440,378$3,222,358($218,020)
Medical examiner$2,676,172$2,691,669$15,497
Military Affairs, Veterans & Disabled Services$1,032,703$1,245,776$213,073
Neighborhoods16,744,151$15,710,158($1,033,993)
Office of Ethics$142,509$79,062($63,447)
Office of the Sheriff$345,894,759$364,534,466$18,639,709
Parks and Recreation$9,834,045$10,272,488$438,443
Planning and Development$6,347,875$6,634,827$286,952
Public Defender$1,013,642$1,369,915$356,273
Public Health$957,789$957,431($358)
Public Libraries$38,213,875$39,441,603$1,227,728
Public Works$81,472,297$80,953,502($518,795)
Special Services$16,838,155$16,120,981($717,174)
State Attorney$179,012$174,679($4,333)
Supervisor of Elections$7,157,820$5,912,047($1,245,773)
Transfers to various funds$78,945,512$81,550,328$2,604,816
Debt Service$101,927,583$100,249,419($1,678,164)
Total expenditures$957,823,526$970,960,202$13,136,676

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