JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The biggest slice of the city's budget pie is to fight crime and Sheriff John Rutherford said this is no time to make cuts.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office prevailed at City Hall with the council budget committee restoring nearly $28 million to the JSO budget.
The vote likely guarantees there will be a property tax hike for homeowners since the council so far has reversed $40-plus million in cuts the mayor proposed.
Rutherford told the council budget committee there is no way he could protect the public if forced to implement $29 million in cuts proposed by Mayor Alvin Brown.
The sheriff said without council support, he would face cutting 381 police officer positions and another 62 in corrections.
Currently, JSO has 1,603 uniformed officers.
"It's not what I want, it's bottom line, had to have to keep this community safe," said Rutherford following the council vote.
Rutherford told council members the 13 percent cut the mayor wanted would have left Jacksonville with 1.5 officers for every one thousand residents. That number would compare to three officers for every thousand people in Orlando.
According to Sheriff Rutherford, without funding being restored, 381 officer positions would have been on chopping block.
The council this week is wrapping its work in holding hearings to review all city spending.
A city budget must be adopted before October 1.
First Coast News