Auditors predict $230,000 Jacksonville budget shortfall; City OKs 2 percent electric rate reduction
History often repeats, and there often are parallels between the news of today and 50 years ago. Here are some of the top news stories of this week in 1967 compiled from the Jacksonville Public Library’s periodical archives by Associate Editor Max Marbut.
Sheriff and judge call for larger jail
Because voters the previous week approved consolidation of Jacksonville’s city and Duval County’s governments, the site-selection committee for a new police station had to stop, survey the situation and consider how to proceed.
The discussion centered on the need for expanded jail facilities, since the consolidation approval made Jacksonville Florida’s largest city and extended its boundaries almost countywide.
Most of the conversation was between Sheriff Dale Carson and Municipal Judge John Santora.
Carson said the county jail was too small to handle the anticipated increase in volume. Santora said the best use for the existing city jail would be to “convert it to rubble.”
Santora said it would make sense to build a new jail on Bay Street near the courthouse to eliminate the cost of transporting prisoners from the county jail to court.
Carson speculated that the solution might be construction of a new police station across Bay Street from the courthouse to form a governmental complex comprising City Hall, the courthouse, police headquarters and the jail.
Santora said that people arrested in the city limits over a weekend totaled about 170 and about 50 per night the rest of the week. Under consolidation, with the extension of city ordinances countywide, “that number will at least double,” he said.
Auditors predict $230,000 Jacksonville budget shortfall
City commissioners found their backs against the wall because of the state of Jacksonville’s finances and proposed raises for city employees.
Estimated city revenue for the remainder of 1967 was about $230,000 short of what had been anticipated when the budget was prepared. Income was falling short in a number of accounts, such as occupational license fees, court fines and rental revenue from the Coliseum and Civic Auditorium. In addition, $90,000 expected to come from Duval County for public library services had not been appropriated by the County Commission.
The shortfall, coupled with a shrinking total in the surplus funds left over from 1966, would make it impossible for the commission to grant hundreds of salary adjustments it had been considering. Commissioners met with acting Auditor Prim Fisher and Assistant Auditor J.P. Rouse, who predicted the city probably would have a cushion of just under $50,000 to meet all general fund emergencies through Dec. 31.
City OKs 2 percent electric rate reduction
The City Commission approved a 2 percent across-the-board rate reduction for customers served by the Jacksonville Electric Department that would go into effect in early 1968.
The reduction, a campaign pledge by Utilities Commissioner Clyde Simpson, would result in an annual drop in department revenue of about $1.3 million.
However, Simpson said he was confident that the normal growth of the city-owned utility — about 5 percent per year — plus an anticipated increase in electricity use because of the reduction would more than compensate for the loss.
The history of other utilities that had reduced rates “shows that a reduction actually results in a net gain in revenue,” he said.