A tale of two budgets: Tracking the primary differences between the mayor and councils plans
The animosity started almost immediately that July morning when Mayor Alvin Brown made his budget pitch to the City Council.
No tax rate increase and reductions in several other taxes and fees meant there would be about $25 million less in revenue.
More than $61 million in cuts, mostly in unidentified "extraordinary lapses."
And a plan tied to his pension reform proposal, which Brown said would save $45 million for the 2013-14 budget year.
Council members criticized the budget as incomplete and lazy.
They quickly decided Brown's pension reform plan would not be tied to the budgeting process and killed it a little more than a week later.
Ultimately, the council passed a 14 percent property tax rate increase for most of Duval County to preserve jobs, programs and services. That included saving nearly 400 police officers' jobs, keeping six libraries open and adding money for road paving.
Brown's spokesman, David DeCamp, characterized his boss' plan as "a budget that would have avoided a tax increase, provided significant retirement reform savings
and kept the city competitively economically. It was a very strong proposal."
Sheriff John Rutherford characterized it as "devastating."
Had it gone through, the sheriff said, "Lock up the women and children because we would have been in trouble."
In mid-July, Brown presented council with a $953 million general fund budget.
A flat millage rate would bring in millions less in revenue, but the mayor was adamant: "Tax increases are not the solution," he said.
"Deep spending cuts are not the solution," Brown added, though his budget included more than $60 million in cuts.
DeCamp said economic development and Downtown were Brown's priorities.
His budget included $11 million for economic development $9 million dedicated to Downtown and $2 million for the rest of the county.
Parks and recreation also were a priority, DeCamp said, with Brown increasing that department's budget by $4.1 million.
And, despite Brown's $29 million in unidentified cuts in the Sheriff's Office budget, DeCamp said, public safety was a priority, as well.
He blamed the unidentified cuts on Rutherford refusing to make the 14 percent in cuts that Brown asked of all department heads.
Brown said his pension reform plan would be the way to avoid deep cuts.
In addition to the $45 million savings next year, Brown said the plan would save more than $1 billion over 30 years.
The plan was negotiated behind closed doors during mediation in federal court and is the subject of a Sunshine Law violations lawsuit by The Florida Times-Union.
Brown's pension deal also was being reviewed by his own task force. He asked for recommendations by the end of August, a month into council's budget review.
On Friday, when council President Bill Gulliford was asked what positives he saw with Brown's budget, he thought of one: "He met the deadlines."
Gulliford has been among the most vocal critics of Brown's unidentified cuts to meet the legal requirement of a balanced budget.
Gulliford said he will propose legislation to prevent such extraordinary lapses in the future.
John Winkler, president of the Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County, called Brown's use of extraordinary lapses "a total cop-out."
"I don't think the mayor's proposal was a good faith proposal," Winkler said Sunday.
Rutherford said the $29 million cut in his controllable costs would have meant laying off 381 police officers, 58 correctional officers, closing the community transition center and not replacing any aging vehicles.
Issues like that are among the reasons Gulliford didn't push for rubber-stamping Brown's budget, although he said he would have loved to have seen the result.
"We would have had a citywide meltdown and a lot of people would have gotten hurt," Gulliford said of passing Brown's budget. "I couldn't in good faith do it, but I wanted to just to see the outcome of what a horrifically bad budget is
I wanted to give it back and say 'go make it work.'"
Instead, the council spent close to 80 hours reworking Brown's budget.
Even Winkler's watchdog group supported the tax rate increase that raises up to $65 million in additional revenue.
Winkler said although he can find faults in some expenditures, raising taxes to fund core government functions was a better option than rushing through a political pension deal.
"They were backed into a corner," Winkler said of council members.
Brown has line-item veto power, but that doesn't include the tax rate increase with which he strongly disagrees. His deadline is drawing near, with the new fiscal year starting Tuesday.
Council has a 1 p.m. Monday meeting to react to any vetoes, which it can override with a simple majority.
Both sides agree pension reform is a must.
Payments toward the police and fire pension fund will be $148 million next year, and continue to rise.
DeCamp said the administration is eager to work toward a solution through a task force led by Bill Scheu with assistance from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
DeCamp said Downtown development, support for JaxPort and the hope of rising property values in the year are examples of "economic positives" that both sides showed support for in the past.
"We're happy going forward on broad principles and priorities this council supports," he
DeCamp said the administration "wouldn't throw stones" at council and respected the work it did on the budget.
The budget process next year could be much different because of a couple of items Gulliford is pursuing.
In addition to the extraordinary lapse legislation, he's also creating a review committee that will dig into departments' budgets, in hopes of identifying savings earlier.
The budget process next year also will come during a prime political season a time when Brown and up to 10 council
members will be looking for "wins" to show voters who will be deciding their fates in early 2015.
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office
$29.6 million in extraordinary lapse in budget
11 positions cut
Jacksonville Fire and Rescue
$9 million increase to $183 million budget
$15.5 million in unidentified cuts, mostly by not filling positions
Saved $1.2 million by delaying equipment replacement
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office
Restored $27 million in extraordinary lapse, saving 300-plus officer positions
Allowed sheriff to carryover $7 million in savings
Jacksonville Fire and Rescue
Restored $12.6 million in lapse, keeping three stations open
Spent $5.8 million on replacement vehicles and computers
Did not raise tax rates
Property tax revenue down $5.7 million to $426 million
Increased millage rate 1.4 to 11.44 for most of county
Homesteaded Duval house valued at $150,000 pays additional $140 per year
Brought in about $65 million in additional revenue
Increased budget $294,241 to $13.8 million
Cut 13 positions
Jacksonville Journey funding for LISC cut $64,957 to $399,023
Restored $246,000 to Animal Care for two positions and animal intake
Gave Municipal Code Compliance funding for nuisance abatement and several positions
Funded LISC for $399,023
$30 million budget for 2013-14
No money for road resurfacing
No money for road construction
$66 million budget for 2013-14
Funded $9.6 million for road resurfacing
Park maintenance infrastructure projects, $4.7 million
Added New World Avenue, Parramore Road, Kernan Boulevard construction projects
Increased budget $4.1 million to $24.2 million, mostly for programming
$500,000 in extraordinary lapse
Cut 32 positions
Kept several community centers open, $240,000
Maintained pool hours, $500,000
Provided Hemming Plaza seed money, $200,000
Said his reform plan would save $45 million in 2013-14
Said savings over 30 years would be more than $1 billion
Council members rejected pension reform plan
Decided any reform should not be tied to the budget
Summer jobs program cut $29,291 to $179,929
Jacksonville Journey funding to Jacksonville Children's Commission cut $851,422
Juvenile crime prevention and intervention cut $45,024 to $276,576
Cut early literacy funding by $238,000 to $1.5 million
Restored $1.4 million to Jacksonville Children's Commission
Added $630,000 for early literacy programs
Kept Summer Night Lights for $174,821
$2.4 million budget cut
33 positions eliminated
Materials budget cut $173,370 to $2.9 million
Kept six branches open for $1.5 million
Maintained Sunday hours for $242,698
Spent $449,641 to keep Main Branch open Saturdays