City to cut Legal Aid staff, cut funds for legal services to poor

Published On: Aug 26 2014 03:26:58 PM EDT

Jacksonville's Finance Committee has made the decision to defund legal services to the poor, causing Jacksonville Area Legal Aid to furlough employees one day per week and cut staff salaries by approximately 20 percent. The recent decision could also lead to staff members being terminated.

The Finance Committee's funding decision will be reviewed by City Council and approved by the mayor before taking effect with the new budget, beginning October 1.

Gov. Rick Scott vetoed state funding for legal aid earlier this year and that decision has caused the board of directors at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid to vote on a series of measures to keep operating for at least one more year.

The board has voted to close the Jacksonville office, JALA’s headquarters, furlough employees at least one day every week through 2015, cut staff salaries by approximately 20 percent, authorize more layoffs and suspend retirement matching.

The City of Jacksonville's funding for JALA has decreased steadily during the recession, from additional general revenues of $747,110 in 2005-2006 to zero in 2013-2014, and JALA has had to reduce staff in Jacksonville, resulting in fewer cases being handled by JALA attorneys.

Florida is one of only three states in the country that does not provide state funding for legal aid.


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