Despite a $58 million budget shortfall, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown is keeping a campaign promise to not raise taxes and outlines a 2012-2013 budget Monday morning that includes hundreds of layoffs of city workers.
WATCH LIVE: Mayor's budget address
According to the mayor's office, the budget will reduce spending by 1.3 percent compared to the current year. It also represents the lowest level of city spending since 2008.
The Brown administration said it worked closely with department heads, employees and constitutional officers throughout city government to reduce general fund expenses by $68.7 million.
According to the mayor's office, there will be a reduction of 490 city positions through attrition and layoffs. Of those positions, 221 will be layoffs, mostly affect the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and Public Works Department.
"We must respect hard-working taxpayers by reducing cost and focusing on quality of service," Brown said. "This budget is an opportunity for innovation, accountability and responsibility to grow confidence in our city."
General fund revenues are projected to fall by $12.7 million in the coming year to $945 million, while the city's pension obligations will increase by $46.4 million, a 45 percent increase. There are $150.3 million in pension obligations in the 2012-13 budget, an amount that represents 16 percent of all general fund spending.
"We must concentrate on day-to-day cost-cutting so that in the next year we can reform our employee pension system and put Jacksonville on course for long-term financial stability," Brown said in a video posted to YouTube.
The city plans to make up some of its revenue by increased sales tax collection, increased charges in Fire-Rescue ambulance services, and red light camera revenues.
"We've got to be very careful this year in terms of spending because the money is not there," said Ronnie Belton, the city's chief financial officer. "So going forward, if our pension reform works, which we think it will work, it's going to free up the kinds of dollars we're going to need."
The proposed budget is now subject to City Council's review. By law, a spending plan must be passed by the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1.
A video message from Brown on the proposed budget can be viewed by clicking here.