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Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown Introduces Government Reform Proposal

11:44 AM, Nov 9, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Mayor Alvin Brown is continuing his promise to reform how the city does business.  

Addressing the Jacksonville City Council this afternoon, the Jacksonville mayor outlined his three-part Government Reform Proposal.

The three parts focus on a government that is efficient, economically competitive and works better for its citizens, he said.

"I want to make government more effective and efficient," Brown began, saying the $60 million budget deficit this year may be smaller than next year's deficit.

His budget, "did not raise taxes or fees or tap into the city reserves," he said. Brown said it would take a "smarter, more cost-effective" government to be "more responsive for the good of our citizens."

Brown referred often to a common theme throughout his administration: public-private partnerships.

"If the private sector can do something better than city government and in a way that saves money for the taxpayers, then we should work together," Brown said. He then introduced a new Office of Public-Private Partnerships to fall within the Economic Development Commission.

Brown also cited a recent success in the public-private arena: the holiday light parade, which was nixed from the city's budget, but then restored this week via a public-private partnership.

"We need a city government that helps us to be competitive for...future economic challenges," Brown said, renewing his call for a "vibrant downtown."

"We have to grow give Jacksonville a competitive advantage over other cities," he insisted.

Along with major sporting events, good restaurants and quality entertainment, Brown said the city needs a "world-class convention center" to replace the out-of-downtown Prime Osborn Convention Center.

"We need to turn things around now," Brown said, citing 50,000 residents out of work.

"When it comes to economic development, the buck stops with me," he maintained. Brown said those charged with economic development initiatives will report directly to him.

Part three of Brown's reform proposal focuses on those who call Jacksonville home.

"I want to improve the quality of life for every citizen in this city," Brown said as he listed advantages Jacksonville has, such as the nation's largest urban park system, the "mighty" St. Johns River and a downtown filled with potential.

Brown summed up his ideas by using a quote familiar to a recent ally: Gov. Rick Scott. "We're open for business."

Today's proposal is considered phase 1 of implementation. 

According to the timeline handed out by Brown's office, the next month will see three readings of the proposal by the city council, with a public hearing on Nov. 22 and council action scheduled for Dec. 13.

It should be an interesting debate on the 22nd, as the City Council already appears torn about the proposed legislation.

"Generally I like it, I like the direction we're going in," said Council President Stephen Joost.

His report struck a chord with City Council President Stephen Joost, who thinks reorganizing the permits and zoning division would make things easier for business owners in Jacksonville.

"The sooner you can get businesses approved and zoned and permitted through all the inspection process, the sooner you can create jobs, so I thought that was a fresh perspective," he said.

But not everyone is sold. Councilman Matt Schellengberg is already raising questions.

He called the mayor's office this afternoon to ask about certain aspects of the proposal.

"The city council is supposed to advise, consent, and make approval, and in this case it seems like there's less people for appointed positions and he's bringing all the power in to the mayor's office and this bothers me," he said.  

First Coast News

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