In this morning’s Times-Union, reporter Tia Mitchell writes about the $65 million budget deficit facing the City of Jacksonville in the upcoming fiscal year. The budget, which is due from the Mayor in several weeks, was already under pressure from the state-mandated property tax cuts which were part of the “Save Our Homes” amendment passed several years ago. When combined with declining property values and a sour economic outlook, next year’s budget picture looks rather bleak.
Jacksonville now faces the challenge of being forced to cut services even more than they have already been cut do deal with the deficit. The alternative—raising the millage rate—is an unlikely option, particularly in light of the fact that many council members, who would have to vote on the increase, face re-election in 2011. They are unlikely to support the increase, especially in light of the fact that the 2007 fee increases remain so widely unpopular.
It would seem that its time for the Mayor to effectively make his case to voters as to why more cuts are not an option. Perhaps a listening tour is in order.
If there was ever a time for someone to step into a leadership role in Jacksonville, the time would appear to be now.