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Finance committee to debate library, ferry funding

6:29 AM, Aug 28, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The City of Jacksonville's finance committee is expected to take up some controversial budget proposals.

Members are meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday for the first of three budget hearings that are scheduled this week.

First on the agenda is funding for the city's library system.

It has been asked to take a $2.4 million cut, which could lead to the closure of six branches.

The branches on the chopping block are Maxville, Brentwood, San Marco, Willowbranch, University and Beaches.

Supporters have been busy gathering signatures to try and take the issue to voters in the next general election.

Roughly 26,000 signatures are needed, and so far the group "Save our Libraries" has certified nearly 18,000.

If the goal is met, voters would be asked in a straw ballot to form an independent library taxing district with no increase on the mileage cap.

Also on the committee agenda is funding for the Mayport Ferry.

Under Mayor Alvin Brown's current budget proposal, there is no funding for the ferry. Currently, it travels all year long between Naval Station Mayport and Hecksher Drive.

But according to our news partners at the Florida Times-Union, the water service needs $700,000 to continue operating.

The newspaper also reports a key subsidy from the Jacksonville Port Authority will no longer be available in the new fiscal year.

The ferry has suffered in recent months with ridership down at the end of last year by about 10%, according to the newspaper.

Finance committee members will also debate this week funding for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Jacksonville Journey and the Parks and Recreation Department.

Jacksonville Journey is an anti-crime initiative that is currently trying to make the city safer in the wake of a violent summer.

Mayor Brown's budget has a $64 million shortfall without pension reform.

The city council recently voted down the mayor's latest reform package.

A budget deal must be in place by October 1.

Budget hearings are also scheduled for 9 a.m. on Thursday and Friday at city hall.

First Coast News

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