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Mayor Alvin Brown Presents 2012-2013 Budget Proposal

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Published on Jul 16, 2012

MAYOR CUTTING SPENDING TO FOCUS ON JACKSONVILLE'S FUTURE
Lowest general fund since 2008 marks a call for greater efficiency

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. July 16, 2012 — While unveiling a 2012-13 budget proposal that holds general fund spending to the lowest levels since 2008, Mayor Alvin Brown reaffirmed his commitment to efficiency, public-private partnership and City Hall's connection with the military and veterans' community to focus on the city's future.

"This budget is a call to do what's right for our city, its future and the more than 800,000 men, women and children who make Jacksonville one of the greatest cities in the world. The way we address today's challenges will determine tomorrow's success," said Mayor Brown. "Together, we can continue to make this city stronger."

The mayor called for pension reform after detailing the more than $150 million in obligations the city must pay into the pension plans in the coming year. It represents a 45 percent increase over current year pension contributions.

The mayor spoke about the need to increase efficiency and cut spending while elaborating on the framework the Brown Administration established in the past year to grow new and innovative programs at little to no cost to taxpayers.

He also thanked City Council for passing legislation to create the Office of Economic Development, a mechanism of city government that will work more aggressively to lure high-wage jobs to Jacksonville. He asked Council to pass legislation creating the Downtown Investment Authority, a move that would intensify Jacksonville's prospects for economic development by enticing jobs and world class entertainment to the urban center.

"We can make Downtown a destination. We can let the private sector work for everyone in our city by increasing the value of our largest properties in an area where we have no need to build any new infrastructure," said the mayor.

Students from the Learn2Earn college immersion program and Leaders in Training corporate internship program, both launched through partnerships between the private sector and City Hall, were in the audience to support the mayor's plans for the coming fiscal year.

The audience also included people from the Jacksonville community who illustrate the mayor's goals to raise the level of service without raising taxes.

Vicky Zelen, owner of Zelen Risk Solutions, was part of the first class of the Mayor's Business Builder, a partnership between City Hall and the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide small business people networking opportunities and information about securing capital and credit. One of the largest contracts Zelen's business manages today is a workman's compensation plan for ICG, a contracting company. She met the company's owner at Business Builder.

Curtis Jackson is a U.S. Army veteran who suffered a traumatic brain injury in the 1980s when a tank hatch came down on his head. For years, he had trouble getting help on a claim until he met Veterans Service Officer Rafael Santiago at City Hall in 2011.

Gayle Eanes is a 24-year-old U.S. Navy Veteran from Virginia who decided to move to Jacksonville after leaving the service. She is working in the Office of Military Affairs, Veterans and Disabled Services through a federal work study program at no cost to the city budget. She's also using the mayor's Jobs for Veterans partnership to help transition to civilian life.

Jacksonville's military and veterans community is worth $12.2 billion in annual economic impact to the city. The mayor's budget invests $1.2 million into the Military Affairs, Veterans and Disabled Services Department in an effort to leverage an even greater return.

Irvin and Ethel Leverock are a retired couple who have lived on Jacksonville's Westside for decades. They never miss any of the city's events for seniors. They met the mayor at the Walk for Senior Wellness in March.

"They built their lives here. They've paid the taxes that have provided our services and I thank them for that. People like the Leverocks are the reason we work long hours and make tough choices," said the mayor.

The Brown Administration's proposed budget eliminates $68.7 million in general fund spending. The plan requires the elimination of 490 positions through attrition and layoffs. The proposed budget calls for no tax or fee increases and requires no funding from the city reserves.

The Brown Administration gathered ideas from all department heads and constitutional officers to craft the budget. Mayor Brown also met personally with more than 2,000 employees at a series of town-hall-style meetings in Jacksonville's public parks.

The proposed budget is now subject to City Council's review. By law, a spending plan must be passed by the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1.

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