Lenny Curry's third budget brings more spending, more cops, 'safer neighborhoods' – Florida Politics (blog)
On Monday morning, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry released his first budget since pension reform passed: a $1.27B budget, up from the $1.2B budget the previous year.
With budget relief available after pension reform, Curry made the decision to invest in long neglected city infrastructure and employees, spending more than in the previous two years and adding 175 new employees total — 100 of them on the police side, 42 in Fire and Rescue, and — as a measure of the ongoing economic boom in Jacksonville — eight new building inspectors.
Curry also focused on putting money into contingency accounts for salaries, and committed to hiking reserve levels in the coming years.
As we previewed, there were some known knowns going into the budget presentation: over $100M budgeted for capital improvements, and $8.4M for one-time capital needs for Edward Waters College’s community field and dorms, money driven by pension savings amounting to $142M after pension reform hit this year.
That EWC money: part of Curry’s “Safer Neighborhoods” pitch, a rhetorical and thematic extension of the One City, One Jacksonville branding campaign launched when he was inaugurated.
As well, it was known there would be 100 new police officers; as Curry told WJXT, he wants “boots on the ground” to deal with the city’s wave of violent crime. These officers will be added to the 160 in the previous two budgets (80 officers and 80 community service officers).
There were also questions, such as what would happen with the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, which came under fire for a botched summer camp selection process, and the parallel program the Jax Journey, which Curry said in 2016 he had wished he had more funds for.
Beyond that? Every department has needs — and Curry’s team was faced, all Spring, with deciding which needs would