On Monday morning, Mayor Lenny Curry delivered his annual budget address to city council detailing his budget for 2019.
Curry introduced an ambitious $1.2 billion budget, an increase of around $33 million over last year’s spending.
In his address, Curry made it clear that this year’s budget has two main priorities: public safety and helping Jacksonville’s children.
In regards to public safety, Curry is requesting a $30 million+ increase to JSO’s budget to pay for more officers and technological upgrades, as well as reversing cuts made in previous administrations.
“One violent crime is one too many,” Curry said, referencing the need to address violent crime and gangs.
JFRD’s budget would also be increased by over $17 million with the aim of reducing response times by adding more stations and substations.
To help the children of Jax, $41.4 million is set aside for Kid’s Hope Alliance, the newly-formed organization that manages the city’s children’s programs. $1.7 million will be committed to making Duval County schools safer places by adding mental health and wellness support. Curry indicated that this includes the hiring of 60 additional school therapists for Duval County schools.
There’s money provisioned for the public library system, which will be used to expand hours, add personnel, and acquire new materials. $2.5 million would go toward the construction of the new Oceanway library.
Curry is also prioritizing the city’s parks in his budget, with money set aside for parks and rec maintenance. This includes improvements and maintenance at Friendship Fountain. It also includes $13.1 million to get started on the McCoys Creek portion of the Emerald Necklace project.
The mayor spoke of seeing historic African-American cemeteries in terrible shape, explaining his addition of $2.5 million to begin restoring aging African-American cemeteries as part of a multi-year project.
Some other interesting pieces of the budget:
- $12.3 million for road resurfacing throughout the city
- $9.4 million for improving sidewalks and making ADA upgrades, plus another $2.75 million for pedestrian safety improvements
- A six-year, $120 million Capital Improvement Project to make major upgrades to city-owned buildings at UF Health
- $5 million to the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens
- $2.5 million for downtown development, including the hiring of two additional Downtown Investment Authority employees to speed up the approval process
Facing re-election next year, Mayor Curry has aimed a large portion of his budget increases toward tackling hot-button issues like crime and childcare.
The budget will now be discussed by city council, which has until the beginning of October to approve a final budget.