Jacksonville leaders Monday sliced more than half of the projected $900,000 deficit from their draft 2018 budget by proposing nearly across-the-board spending cuts.
The more than $500,000 in cuts covered the gamut of city spending, from street department equipment to discretionary school system money and travel and training costs for council members.
The Jacksonville City Council proposed the cuts in its fourth work session to prioritize spending in its draft 2018 budget. The council is expected to pass a budget in September before its next fiscal year starts Oct. 1.
Even without any cuts, the council still has approximately $9 million in reserve to draw from if necessary. However, council members said they’d rather balance the budget without using savings.
“I know we have reserves, but we can’t keep dipping into it; that doesn’t make good financial sense,” Councilman Tony Taylor said.
Among the larger proposed cuts included $160,000 for a one-man leaf truck for the street department. Stanley Carr, superintendent of the street department, said he could live without the truck for now since the fall season would be over before the vehicle could be built and shipped to the city anyway.
The council also proposed giving the Jacksonville school system $125,000 in discretionary spending money next year instead of $250,000.
“That is unallocated money that they can spend on whatever,” said Jarrod Simmons, city administrator.
Simmons noted that part of the school system spending reduction would come from having the Board of Education pay for its own elections next year.
Other proposed cuts included about $54,000 in mainly building improvements and technology upgrades for the parks and recreation department and about $38,000 in equipment for the Fire Department. Councilman Jimmy Harrell said that department’s money should be saved to help cover the cost of a new fire truck the department wants to buy in another year.
The council also cut $15,000 that covered its own mileage, training, lodging and food expenses.
“If we expect these departments to make cuts, we should make some for ourselves,” Taylor said.