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Jax Daily Record Friday, Sep. 29, 201706:50 AM EST

Mayor Curry touts public safety spending in city’s new budget

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Millions for more police officers, two new fire stations.
by: David Cawton Staff Writer

 

Mayor Lenny Curry reaffirmed Thursday that his $1.273 billion budget, which City Council approved Tuesday, is a step toward increasing public safety.

“We all work together for the same cause and are like-minded in how we keep our city safe,” said Curry, who was joined by Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, State Attorney Melissa Nelson and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Chief Kurt Wilson.

Curry’s budget includes $410 million for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office that increases the employee cap by 100 sworn officers, a point of contention for some Northwest Jacksonville council members seeking more accountability from the JSO.

“I would disagree that there’s no accountability,” Williams said. “Police misconduct and staffing are two different issues.”  

Included in the budget is $1 million for the construction of a Crime Gun Intelligence Center.

“It will allow JSO’s detectives, ATF’s agents and our prosecutors to work together in a space in order to address gun violence,” Nelson said.

The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department budget includes money to build two fire stations and hire 42 additional firefighters.

JFRD Chief Kurt Wilson said the stations will help reduce call volume.

“Call volumes are through the roof,” said Wilson of the St. Johns Town Center and Argyle Forest areas.

The fire stations are being built on city property at Interstate 295 and Baymeadows Road, and at Old Middleburg and Collins roads.

The department’s $217 million budget includes millions for new and upgraded equipment.

“Much of the JFRD equipment was outdated,” Curry said.

“We need to make sure when these men and women put their lives on the line, they have the best stuff to keep them safe as well,” he said.

Kids Hope Alliance

Also Thursday, Curry announced his administration would reintroduce legislation creating the new Kids Hope Alliance, an organization that could replace the Jacksonville Journey and Jacksonville Children’s Commission next year.

“Since our original legislation, we’ve had an opportunity to continue our work with various community partners and groups to gain valuable input,” Curry said in a news release.

The legislation also adds what the mayor calls “essential services.”

Mental health, behavioral health, emotional health and physical disability programming will be added to the early learning category.

The legislation calls for a seven-member board appointed by the mayor and confirmed by council.  

The legislation will be introduced Monday by District 4 council member Scott Wilson and would take effect Jan. 1 if approved.

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