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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Mar. 19, 202003:38 PM EST

Curry backs federal mortgage payment moratorium, says city budget will be 'significantly different'

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“If we can stop those stress points, families then have an opportunity to come out of this and get their feet back under them,” Curry said.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on March 19 endorsed a proposal by Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida, for a 60-day federally imposed moratorium on mortgage payments, rents and utility bills to help mitigate wage and job losses related to the coronavirus. 

The mayor said he spoke with Scott on March 18 when the senator also endorsed an expansion of unemployment insurance. Curry said the city Office of General Counsel advised him these are policies Curry cannot implement as mayor under the city charter and would have to be a federal directive.

“If we can stop those stress points, families then have an opportunity to come out of this and get their feet back under them,” Curry said. “If financial systems start to collapse as a result of missing mortgage payments, rent payments etc., I believe it makes it catastrophic.”

Curry said the city has not tapped financial reserves to pay for COVID-19 response and has the ability to sustain operations “for a period of time.” City CFO Patrick “Joey” Greive is working to determine a more precise time frame. 

At a March 19 news conference, Curry acknowledged that the city likely would see lower than projected sales and property tax revenue with the economic slowdown created by the COVID-19 response. 

He said priorities in his upcoming 2020-21 fiscal year budget will shift as result.

“It’s a new day. Everything changed. That’s the reality of where we are. What we were talking about in my upcoming budget three weeks ago will be significantly different than what we will present, and our focus will be on the safety of our people and our local economy in the upcoming year,” Curry said. 

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