Every year, the mayor is required to present his proposed annual budget
and capital improvement plan
for the coming fiscal year. This year, because of COVID-19, the mayor presented his budget digitally over a video conference call.
Video of his address is embedded in this post. Here are the mayor's prepared remarks:
Good morning and thank you to President Hazouri, Vice President Newby, and all members of City Council.
As we look at this new budget and contemplate how we are moving forward in the next fiscal year, we need to recognize what a difference a year can make. When I presented a budget to you last year, every projection indicated we would continue to have record levels of economic growth ahead of us. Now, with the impact of COVID-19, we face a much different set of challenges and possibilities.
As with every challenge though, what always shines through is that Jacksonville is a strong city with people who can rise up and overcome adversity. In their honor, we must continue to work together to overcome these challenges for the benefit of every person in every neighborhood.
Part of what makes our city strong is a spirit of service throughout our local government. In every aspect of the response to COVID-19, I am proud to work with other elected officials and employees who put the needs of this community at the forefront. They have selflessly and tirelessly committed to their duty in the face of unprecedented circumstances.
Today it is my sixth opportunity to present a budget since I took office in 2015. Each budget has been a clear demonstration of my commitment to the people of Jacksonville and the key priorities of my administration. They also demonstrated my steadfast commitment to be a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars by reducing debt and maintaining strong reserves and to prepare for unforeseen challenges. This budget maintains that record.
In Fiscal year 20-21, my proposed General Fund Budget is $1.34 billion.With this budget I maintain a top spending priority for public safety. As in past years, this includes the men and women who wear the uniforms and risk it all to protect us. For example, we have included funding for renovations to fire stations as well as for brand new stations. We are adding important emergency response vehicles and equipment, but this budget also includes prevention and intervention programs like Cure Violence and youth programs at Kids Hope Alliance. This will give us the ability to add a third Cure Violence location with help from state funding and expand mentoring and trauma response for our children in the year ahead. By working with KHA we will continue to implement and refine alternatives to the old juvenile justice models to expand the choices for young people who need a real second chance.
I have also heard the righteous demands from our community to address social justice and economic disparities in our city. I have consistently stated one of the most effective ways government can create positive change is to invest in our neighborhoods. That includes infrastructure promises made long ago when our City was consolidated, that have yet to be fully realized. But across all my budgets, including this one, I continue to invest in these promises.
So in this budget you will see a total, multiyear CIP of 270 projects estimated at $1.66 billion. In the year ahead, we have 121 projects at a total of nearly $240 million. Almost $100 million of that will be directed to Northwest Jacksonville, specifically Council Districts 7, 8, 9, and 10, where some of the largest unmet needs still exist. While this is a strong commitment to those neighborhoods, the budget still makes substantial investments for all areas of Jacksonville.
For highway and pedestrian safety, you will see $12 million for countywide road resurfacing and over $13 million for sidewalk maintenance, improvements, and construction. For a vibrant outdoor life, you will find nearly $14 million for parks maintenance, improvements, and repairs, and continued funding for creation of the Emerald Trail.
To nourish minds and increase access to information for those in our city, we have library renovations, material acquisition, and continued funding for bringing our newest library to the Northside of town. And this CIP continues the multiyear investments in our Zoo and the Florida Theater.
Over the past year, colleagues, you mapped out dozens of key priorities for your constituents, and this budget includes those priorities. With important goals of reducing infant mortality, making our waterways safer, increasing awareness and access for mental health, and fighting human trafficking, this budget has funding for these important issues. Included is $225,000 for Councilman Bowman’s Goodwill A-Step Program, $200,000 for Councilman Salem’s Infant Mortality Campaign, $200,000 for CM Freeman’s Mental Health Awareness initiative, $200,000 for Councilwoman DeFoor’s removal of derelict vessels priority, $150,000 in business improvement grants in Councilwoman Pittman’s district and $250,000 for Human Trafficking Reduction funding led by Councilwoman Cumber.
Thanks to the leadership of Chairman Carlucci, resiliency and our response to sea level rise are included. I have fully funded the position of Chief Resiliency Officer, and the CIP commits more than $47 million dollars in FY 20-21 to hydrology and resiliency projects. This includes improvements to drainage and our smaller waterways as they feed into the river.
As voters in the months ahead contemplate approval of making our schools world-class, we continue in this budget to subsidize the school guardian program – a state mandated effort that ensures qualified security is in each and every public school.
COVID-19 exposed fault lines for some in our community related to healthcare. For that reason, this budget will continue the city partnership with UF Health. Using last year’s funding as a starting place, we’ve added to that for a total over $30 million in annual operational support plus continuing the CIP facilities work there with an additional $20 million this year.
As you can imagine in a budget this detailed, there are more line items to celebrate and reflect upon, but those I’ve highlighted demonstrate a consistent effort to have a city that strives to make our quality of life exceptional through safety and opportunity for all. This budget was prepared by administration staff while they simultaneously navigated the complexities of our local response to a global pandemic. For that, I believe they all deserve our sincere thanks.
Finally let me say this, despite the many challenges this year has brought us, I still have abundant optimism and faith in the people of this city. Those of us on the call today are fortunate to have this opportunity to serve our bold, resilient, and compassionate citizens.
My team and I look forward earning the support of each member of City Council for this budget in the weeks ahead. Working together, this year and in the future, I am confident that we will make tremendous progress toward building a stronger and more vibrant community.
Jacksonville’s future is bright, and if we keep doing the work, the best is yet to come. Today and throughout the budget process, my staff will remain available to answer your questions and complete this important work. God bless you and God bless the people of Jacksonville.