3 p.m. update: Finance Committee denies sheriff's request to hire 40 cops and 40 community service officers
3 p.m. update: The City Council Finance Committee maintained its stance of no new hires.
The group voted not to hire 40 police officers and 40 community service officers for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
The move saves about $4.5 million. That figure also includes radio replacements, vehicles for those community service officers and other associated costs.
There will be time over the coming weeks of budget review for those, and any other cuts, to be restored.
City Council began axing parts of Mayor Alvin Brown’s budget Thursday, eliminating additional investments and holding the line on employees.
And that was just in the first few hours of the Finance Committee’s budget review.
The group began in what Chair Richard Clark called a $19.5 million hole. That comprised an additional pension obligation Council Auditor Kirk Sherman has contended for weeks, overestimated revenues his office curbed and eliminating year-over-year spending on one-time money.
With the hole, expense levels started rolling back to the current year's levels. That meant some programs and additional funding was lost.
Those early cuts include an additional $2.5 million headed to UF Health Jacksonville for indigent care; $443,000 for a Jacksonville Area Legal Aid match program; $1.18 million to replenish the Downtown Economic Development Fund; and reductions to the Public Service Grant program and Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville.
Those programs and funding levels could still be brought back, but council members will have to find other areas of funding.
“Our goal is to live within the revenue,” said Clark. “We’re going to live within our bank account.”
By the lunch break, about $4.4 million in programs had been cut from the $19.5 million hole.
With talk of the employee cap remaining from last year, the question remains whether the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will receive its 40 additional police officers and 40 community service officers.
Those questions could soon be answered: the sheriff’s office budget is scheduled for review this afternoon, as is the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.