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Libraries, Sheriff's Office Could Lose Millions After Final Budget Vote from Jacksonville City Council

10:18 PM, Sep 27, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's expected to be a packed house inside City Hall chambers as city council members make their final votes on the budget tonight.

Many departments will see cuts, but just how heavy those cuts will be is yet to be determined. 

The city's library budget could be cut by more than $3 million.

If those cuts stand, the Maxville Branch off of Normandy Boulevard could close.  It's been open since 2005.  People who live nearby and use it frequently say it's a necessity in the area.

If it closes, patrons say they'll have to travel several miles away to use another one.  Steve Beard is hoping there can be some kind of compromise made tonight to keep the doors open.  He uses the Maxville Branch at least twice a week to look for employment.

"I'd say keep the libraries open because we need them," said Beard.  "That's horrible.  It's like everything is getting worse and worse."  

Along with that possible closure, the remaining  libraries would also be affected.  Some library employees could lose their jobs.  All libraries could be forced to close on Mondays and hours would be cut drastically.

Also up for debate is $4.4 million in the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office budget.

Earlier this month, Sheriff John Rutherford addressed the city council, expressing concern that they'd cut that amount in error.
The $4.4 million is on top of $16.5 million in cuts the sheriff said he'd already made.  At that meeting, city council members told him it was not a mistake.

Rutherford said cutting more from the budget could cause a public safety issue in the city.

"What concerns me is I'm going to have less officers than we had when we were the murder capital of the state of Florida," he said.

Rutherford said his budget already included cutting dozens of police and civilian positions and a 2 percent pay cut for appointed positions.

First Coast News

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