Sunday, June 28, 2009

Peyton: Taxpayers will see need for tax hikes

"For an extra $115 next year, Mayor John Peyton says, the average Jacksonville homeowner would save things like fire stations, libraries, children’s programs and recycling."

"The mayor made his plan for a 1.2 mill property tax increase official Thursday."

"Peyton called his proposed 14 percent property tax rate increase a “marginal revenue play” that he thinks taxpayers will ultimately accept for the good of the city. Jacksonville, he said, has spent years under-investing in everything from parks to police."

“We have ordered up government on the cheap,” he said. “My concern is with further cuts, we make our city not only a lesser place to live but un-competitive as we try to grow this economy.”

"His “Fix it Now” plan also depends on $40 million in spending cuts, most of them coming from freezing wages, furloughing employees, eliminating 100 vacant positions and requiring all workers to contribute to their health-care plan."

"Council President-elect Richard Clark has been staunchly against a tax rate increase, saying the city needed to focus on cutting expenses. He could be persuaded, though, depending on what constituents say during community meetings he’s planning to hold in July."

"Of the $40 million in cuts — which are coming regardless of a tax increase — city employees are hit hardest:

- A salary freeze is expected to save $8 million.
- A 5 percent across-the-board departmental budget cut would save $8.5 million.
- Eliminating 100 vacant positions would free up $5 million in salary and benefit expenses.
- Targeting $10 million in savings from furloughs and a renegotiated union worker health plan."

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