They Built It, Will They Come?
Mayor Peyton and City Council President Richard Clark have begun the process recommended by JCCI to get the public more involved in the budget process. They’ve established a website and will be holding a series of town hall meetings in an effort to get public input into the city budget long before the document is written.
They are to be commended. It is in keeping with the recommendations of the JCCI Budget Study committee for a more open and transparent budget process. JCCI will be facilitating the town hall meetings, which will certainly give them credibility.
But the big question remains who will actually participate.
“If you build it, they will come.” It’s probably the best-known line from the movie Field of Dreams. In the case of the Jacksonville City Budget, it may be more a case of “If you build it, will they come?” Will average citizens care enough to visit a website or attend a town meeting?
I hope so. As one of those on the JCCI budget study committee, I agreed with the consensus that the public needed to have more access to the budget process. And yet, a city budget is something that’s difficult for the average person to get their hands around. The website is divided out into departments, with a detailed budget from each department.
A sampling of some of the topline numbers: The Mayor’s office is showing a budget reduction of 11.7% and two fewer full time employees from FY08 to FY10. The City Council did not provide a detailed budget for the site, but noted that The total budget, which includes the General Fund and a Special Revenue Fund for City Council is $16,650,167. The General Fund - GSD budget is $9,185,120.
The Central Operations budget has been cut 5% over the past two years, or $8,875,449.
IT has been reduced only $6,518, but four positions have been cut over last fiscal year.
The JEDC is projecting a $1.2 million reduction over last fiscal year, and one fewer position.
While Fire and Rescue is included on the website, JSO is not.