Council restores part of Downtown fund
A Downtown development fund that initially contained $9 million now has $4.1 million after a City Council panel restored funding Wednesday to its original source.
The council Finance Committee approved the restoration and other actions during a budget review after its regularly scheduled bimonthly meeting.
The committee Aug. 9 approved sweeping two funds — a $9 million for Downtown development and $2 million for countywide economic projects — into a capital projects account. A week later, the committee voted to use $6.9 million from the combined fund to purchase vehicles and computers for public safety. Another $447,000 initially reported to come from the fund for debt service came from a council contingency fund.
On Wednesday, the council kept the countywide account at a zero balance and put the $4.1 million in the Downtown fund.
The combined $11 million resulted from savings of refinancing city bonds, which Mayor Alvin Brown in January announced would be toward economic development.
Robin Lumb was the lone council to vote against the original $9 million allocation for Downtown projects because he wanted to see how the Downtown Investment Authority planned to spend the money.
"I was on the end of ... (a 17-1) vote when I suggested we were being a bit premature," Lumb said Wednesday.
He said he thought the council was still behind the authority, which appears to be "gaining projects on their own," but that it still owes the legislative body a master plan scheduled to be presented early next year.
"I can't support it," he said of the $4.1 million. "I can support holding on to it."
Council member John Crescimbeni said the council will still have control over the money, which can't be spent without council approval.
In other action, the Finance Committee decided not to fund several programs of the Jacksonville Journey that were included in Brown's proposed budget.
Those that aren't currently funded: a summer jobs program, $179,929; the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, commonly referred to as LISC, $399,023; and an ex-offender training and re-entry program; $265,568.
An ex-offender employment program that was proposed at $352,633 was reduced to $75,000.
Of the mayor's proposed $7.4 million Jacksonville Journey budget, about $680,000 remains unfunded.
Finance members used Wednesday as a "wrap-up" day to take care of outstanding items heading into the 2 p.m. Thursday final committee budget hearing.
The full council will take vote on a final fiscal 2013-14 budget this month.