City Council Task Force on Consolidated Government Presents Recommendations

October 14, 2014  
Logo of the City of Jacksonville.

Study represents first formal review of government structure since Consolidation 46 years ago

The Task Force on Consolidated Government presented its final report and recommendations to Council President Clay Yarborough today in City Council Chambers. The task force, formed by former City Council President Bill Gulliford and chaired by City Councilwoman Lori Boyer, undertook an in-depth review of the history, formation and operation of the consolidated government of Jacksonville including a full examination of all departments, divisions, boards, commissions and independent authorities. Additionally, the group studied the relationship between the Beaches and Baldwin and the Consolidated City of Jacksonville.

"Since Consolidation 46 years ago, much discussion about changes in our consolidated government has been advanced. Until now, there has been little formal review of our consolidated government as a whole. No government, company or team can reach its full potential without regular and meaningful scrutiny and change,” said City Councilman Bill Gulliford. “I'm proud to say that now we've completed this effort thanks to the tireless work of the chair, Councilwoman Lori Boyer, and the dedicated members of the task force. Countless hours and much energy was spent in arriving at many well thought-out conclusions and suggestions. Out of respect for their efforts, we will now take those recommendations and advance them through legislative action and ballot initiatives. The citizens of Jacksonville should be greatly appreciative of the work and dedication of these citizen volunteers. I will always hold them in high regard and admiration for their commitment to our city."

Following the same format established in the 1966 Blueprint for Improvement, which helped create the current consolidated form of government in Jacksonville, the task force developed the Blueprint for Improvement II report. The report identified the problems the city currently faces, and its needs, and came to a conclusion offering solutions. In the report, the task force notes that it found that consolidated government is not only far better than the prior forms of government in Jacksonville and Duval County, but also that the consolidated structure established 46 years ago performs as well as, or better than, any other structure it reviewed for cities of similar size. However, the report goes on to state that the task force found overlaps, silos and communication breakdowns that frustrate and challenge citizens and those doing business with the city.

“I applaud Councilman Gulliford’s insight in recognizing that we were overdue for a structural review of City government and appreciate the dedication and extraordinary commitment of all those who participated in this effort, from our council staff to Damian Cook, our special task force administrative assistant, and each and every volunteer member of the task force. Our goal was to evaluate and ensure that our consolidated structure facilitated rather than hampered good government and enhanced our opportunities for success. We found many positives, but also noteworthy concerns and opportunities for improvement. It is in that spirit, after extensive research and deliberation, that the task force offers it Blueprint for Improvement II,” said Councilwoman and Task Force Chair Lori Boyer

Below are the greatest challenges with consolidated government structure and operation the task force identified. Excluded from the list is the current unfunded liability of public pensions and the issues surrounding governance and operation of the Police and Fire Pension Fund. Because the mayor convened a Retirement Reform Task Force with the express purpose of making recommendations in that area, the task force did not study those topics and instead affirmed the structural and governance recommendations of the Retirement Reform Task Force.

Challenges identified by the Task Force on Consolidated Government in Blueprint for Improvement II:

  • Continuity in government and retention of institutional knowledge
  • Integrated mission and strategic plan
  • Central services
  • Neighborhood engagement, participation and involvement
  • Increased efficiency and effectiveness of local government
  • Consistency with the intent and goals of consolidation
  • Public trust and confidence in government
  • Present and future planning
The full 118-page report including its recommendations for Charter amendments, ordinance code changes and policy and process improvements to address these challenges is available for viewing and download online at www.coj.net.

“Thanks to the leadership of Councilwoman Lori Boyer and the time and talents of many dedicated community partners who participated in the work of the Task Force on Consolidated Government, we now have a solid report for review. Many of the items contained therein have the potential to help Jacksonville become an even better city as we move into the future. I look forward to the City Council’s discussion on the recommendations,” said City Council President Clay Yarborough.
 
Task Force on Consolidated Government
In August 2013, the Jacksonville City Council passed Resolution 2013-551-A, creating the Task Force on Consolidated Government to undertake an in-depth review of the history, formation and operation of the consolidated government of Jacksonville. The Task Force, chaired by City Councilmember Lori Boyer, represented a wide array of government, community and business leaders and a broad spectrum of community interests. The scope of the Task Force’s work included: examining the history of consolidation, the demographic shifts of the city and the evolving government structure since consolidation; hosting a series of public input meetings to identify critical issues; researching and investigating historical and current practices in Jacksonville and best practices around the nation; and identifying solutions. Out of this work, the Task Force identified and adopted recommendations for Charter amendments, ordinance changes and policy and operation changes, which are included in its final report, Blueprint for Improvement II. The full report is available online at www.coj.net.

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