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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jul. 15, 201906:45 AM EST

Curry previews $173.5 million capital improvement plan before Monday budget address

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A video released on the eve of Curry’s 2019-20 budget speech touts millions for new Arlington fire station, public safety and city-owned attractions.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

Before delivering the first budget of his second term, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry released a video on social media Sunday previewing the budget which he says includes new money for public safety and improvements to historic, city-owned entertainment venues.

Curry will deliver his 2019-20 budget to City Council Monday, following a speech in the council chambers.

Recorded in his office at City Hall, Curry said his budget will include $5 million for capital improvements at the Jacksonville Zoo; $1.5 million for dock redevelopment in Mayport; and $1 million for improvements at the Ritz Theatre and Museum and the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center. The budget will also earmark $1 million in match dollars for improvements to the Florida Theater, part of a five-year agreement between the city and the theater’s board of directors.

The video teased new money for public safety, including $5 million for a new fire station near Arlington Road and Atlantic Boulevard.

Curry’s budget will provide more money for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office School Guardian program from $3.3 million in fiscal year 2018-19 to $3.8 million in 2019-20. The program provides sworn officers and JSO-trained safety assistants in Duval County Public Schools.

Curry said the budget also aims to continue to reduce the city’s debt without raising taxes. His preview did not state how much debt the proposed budget would pay down, but he touted $376 million in total debt reduction during his first four years in office.

A $173.5 million Capital Improvement Plan has $2.5 million for drainage and safety improvements in Brooklyn; $11 million for maintenance improvements citywide; $1.5 million for railroad crossing upgrades; and $500,000 for maintenance of city-operated swimming pools. 

The mayor also will propose a $2.7 million increase for the Kids Hope Alliance and money for juvenile justice programs “previously managed by the state attorney’s office.”

The council Finance Committee will put the proposed budget through nearly two weeks of hearings before it’s put to the full council for a final vote later this summer.

The mayor also used the video leading into Monday’s speech to list what he sees as accomplishments in economic developments in Downtown and greater Jacksonville.

“To date, the economic development projects approved under my administration will directly create 7,200 jobs and bring new property tax revenues of $6.5 million annually,” he said

Curry referenced VyStar Credit Union’s plan to move its headquarters and approximately 1,000 employees Downtown and its preparations to rebrand the former SunTrust building at 76 S. Laura St. with the VyStar logo. He also pointed to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority’s $57.3 million investment in its new Regional Transportation Center in LaVilla and Baptist Health’s 260,000-square-foot Wolfson Children’s Critical Care Tower under construction on the Southbank.

He also touted growth in the housing market since 2014.

“Our Downtown residential market continues to see robust growth,” Curry said. “From workforce housing to luxury condos, new construction is underway throughout the urban core in Brooklyn, LaVilla and Laura Street.”

Curry’s budget speech is scheduled for 9 a.m. at City Hall, 117 W. Duval St.

 

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