Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Civic Council Gets Bill for Report; Consultants Will Suggest Steps for Governmental Reorganization in City

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Civic Council Gets Bill for Report; Consultants Will Suggest Steps for Governmental Reorganization in City

Article excerpt

Byline: Timothy J. Gibbons

The Jacksonville Civic Council is picking up the tab for a team of consultants to suggest ways that city government should be reorganized as part of Mayor Alvin Brown's plans to bring wholesale change to City Hall.

City employees are pulling together a plan that will contain large-scale changes, with layoffs, outsourcing and cuts in services all on the table. The consultants' report will be a "second set of eyes" to figure out areas where cost savings are likely, incoming Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Hyde said.

That report, costing between $25,000 and $50,000, including expenses, should be submitted to the mayor within the next week or so, with the legislation authorizing the changes presented to the City Council about a month later.

Some changes can be made simply on the mayor's authority, but larger modifications - creating or getting rid of whole departments, for example - need council approval.

The governmental reorganization is necessary, Hyde said, in order to set the stage for next year's budget, when the city's revenue will drop again. The city expects to face an $80 million to $100 million shortfall next year.

At the same time, Brown has said he wants his administration to focus on economic development and education, which the reorganization should allow it to do.

That means some city departments may end up getting increased funding, while others are cut.

"We are starting from a philosophical point of 'what is it we should be doing,' especially with the constraints of the economic environment we're in," Hyde said.

The process has been a key priority of city workers, many of whom refocused on the reorganization once the budget was submitted to the council.

There's some urgency, Hyde said, because the mayor wants savings to kick in during the first quarter of the fiscal year, which begins in October. …

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