Thursday, July 23, 2009

Jacksonville's Mayor Lobbies for Solutions to its Budget Crisis

Mayor John Peyton presented his proposed budget to the Jacksonville, Florida City Council in July 2009 and faced strong opposition, primarily because it called for increases in the property tax rate. Peyton, a conservative Republican, advocated the tax increase because Florida citizens voted on January 29, 2008 to increase the amount of property excluded from taxation. (With less property subject to taxation, the tax rate needs to increase to generate the same level of revenues.) This seems to be part of a broader issue in which U.S. citizens clamor for tax reductions, yet do not want government services reduced either.

A Message From Mayor John Peyton

Dear Friends,

Jacksonville is facing a financial crisis. Cuts from Tallahassee, global economic instability and an unsustainable pension system have created a $170 million budget problem. On July 13, I presented my proposed fiscal year 2009-2010 budget to the Jacksonville City Council.

It includes a three-part plan to solve Jacksonville’s budget crisis by making $40 million in operational cuts, taking on important pension reform and implementing a modest revenue increase. A millage rate increase of 1.02 mills will simply bring the property tax rate back to where it would’ve been before Tallahassee meddled in local government affairs.

As part of this year’s budget process, I will be hosting a series of community conversations about city finances. Please visit the Bulletin Board section of this Web site to see dates and times of town hall meetings, brown bag lunches and live media appearances.

I encourage you to explore this Web site, read my budget address , and ask yourself what kind of city you want to live in. Is it one without cultural events, museums or recycling? Is it one that lacks vital services for the most vulnerable members of our community like the hungry, homeless and those who are crime victims? I don’t want to live in that kind of city, and I don’t think you do either.

If you support my budget plan, I urge you to make your voice heard. Join the Fix It Now! movement and make your City Councilmembers aware of the kind of city you want for yourself and your children.

John Peyton

For an in-depth analysis of the city’s finances, please read a report recently released by the Jacksonville Community Council, Inc. (JCCI). The report is called “Our Money, Our City: Financing Jacksonville’s Future” and provides a comprehensive overview of our current budget crisis.

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