Committee frustration with how the administration of Mayor Alvin Brown has resolved issues with clarity and timeliness has been an issue.
“I’m completely frustrated. I think the committee is completely frustrated. I’ve tried to be polite up to date, but my patience has run out,” Council member John Crescimbeni said after Thursday’s meeting.
He said administration staff has been unprepared and, at times, absent to answer questions. He called Wednesday’s proceedings “a disaster” and thought “today (Thursday) was worse.”
Crescimbeni said one remedy was shifting budgetary burdens back to the administration and cited a $100,000 cut to the Information Technology Department.
The department had requested that amount for a maintenance charge to the Human Rights Commission, but after hours of discussion and a dispute about the timing and service performed, the committee decided to not assess the charge.
The largest cut Thursday was a $650,000 reduction to the Police and Fire Pension Fund obligation. Committee member Stephen Joost said the cut was a message to the fund’s leadership about pay increases, contributions to a senior staff retirement plan and expenditures on items such as cars, which have been criticized during the budget proceedings.
The agreement to move traffic court functions from a Beach Boulevard center to the Duval County Courthouse Downtown will net about $62,000 in the next fiscal year and nearly $750,000 in subsequent years.
The courthouse facility must meet some Americans with Disabilities Act requirements before the move.
Officials said the move could take place in January after a 60-day notice.
The Jacksonville Public Library kept its increase of more than $800,000 to purchase materials and keep four regional branches open Sundays, but also lost a little more than $38,000 after an accounting error.
Also, the Jacksonville Journey’s funding was unchanged, with Joost advocating for the public safety initiative that relies on prevention programs.
“This is probably one of the most important things in this budget we do,” Joost said. “I don’t think a dime should be cut from them.’
Crescimbeni said there would be a balanced budget by this afternoon and joked that he was resigning if there was not.
The Jacksonville Children’s Commission and Public Works Department are the final two areas to be reviewed beginning at 9 a.m. today.
Crescimbeni said if the savings to plug the budget gap are not found in those two areas, he suggested a unilateral cut across City departments to close the remaining deficit.
A $1.6 million City budget hole was reduced to just under $669,000 Thursday and the City Council Finance Committee intends to close the gap today to complete its review.