Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FOUR CHEERS; Council Cuts Back

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FOUR CHEERS; Council Cuts Back

Article excerpt

Hearing elected officials talk about lean budget times is one thing, seeing them act like times are tight is often another.

Credit the Jacksonville City Council for tailoring the walk to the talk when it comes to travel this past budget year.

City budget figures show the 19-member council as a group logged $36,395 in travel payments for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. That's the lowest for at least the last five years and a 90 percent decrease from last year's total of $69,072, city records show.

The biggest part of the money spent this past budget year - $16,155 - is advance money for nine council members to go on the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce trip to New Orleans in November.

The purpose of visiting the Big Easy - for the record, anyway - is to scout out the lessons learned from the devastating Hurricane Katrina of last year.

Each council member gets up to $3,000 a year in travel money for city business pending approval of trips by the council president. Other money can be spent if members are tapped by the council president to represent the city on "special assignment."

Kevin Hyde was council president for most of the fiscal year with Michael Corrigan taking over in July.

Travel can be a necessary part of council business. But being frugal stewards of taxpayer dollars is even more necessary, especially during tight budget years.

Hats off to the council for being more conservative overall with travel last year.

Keep it up.

UPWARD AND ONWARD

For 29 years, a federally funded program on Jacksonville University's campus has quietly convinced low-income high school students college is within reach.

Upward Bound uses volunteer Duval County school teachers and college professors to boost academic performance and motivate students, according to the program's synopsis.

Tutoring, seminars and trips to nearby college campuses are bedrocks of the program.

Overall, the program has seen more than 85 percent of its students remain enrolled for the three-year program, which requires them to give up six weeks of summer and 28 Saturdays. …

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