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Mayor Lenny Curry unveiled his more than $1 billion budget this morning at City Hall.
Jax Daily Record Monday, Jul. 18, 201612:00 PM EST

Curry adds 40 cops, 40 community service officers in tight budget; Friends of Hemming gets half what it requested

by: David Chapman

Mayor Lenny Curry unveiled his budget Monday, laying out a more than $1 billion spending plan that adds 40 police officers and 40 community service officers and pays off almost $15 million in debt.

But it’s a tighter budget, which meant saying “no” to a lot of requests and other needs, he said in City Council Chambers.

Curry declined to fund some higher-profile asks, such as extra library hours, more mowing of city-owned rights of way and adding fire stations.

Friends of Hemming Park will receive only half of its $500,000 request.

But those additional police officers remain in the budget. Public safety has been Curry’s No. 1 priority and an area that he said couldn’t do more with less.

Curry’s senior staff spent more than a month crafting the budget. It’s now up to council to determine how the city should proceed in the coming year.

The backdrop for this year’s presentation to council was one of tightened purse strings and the all-important Aug. 30 vote on a sales-tax extension to pay down the city’s $2.7 billion unfunded pension liability.

Curry has said with an affirmative vote and additional positive steps, the city could stand to gain at least $40 million in pension relief annually — money that could be spent on everyday services.

The trade-off, according to fiscal models, is paying off more over time with that dedicated revenue source.

Curry in his budget also set aside $3.5 million in reserves for future pension costs, less than the $5 million discussed during his staff’s budget meetings.

The council Finance Committee, led by Anna Brosche, will begin its typical month-long review in the next few weeks. The group generally concludes its work for a full council review in the middle of September.

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