Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Delaney Weighs Options for $14 Million

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Delaney Weighs Options for $14 Million

Article excerpt

Imagine what you could do with an extra $14 million.

Now think of all the people who'd want a piece of it.

Keep both of those in mind and you'll get an idea of what Mayor John Delaney is pondering as his office works on a city budget he'll unveil next month.

With a wave of construction and rising land values continuing, the property taxes Jacksonville collects this year will grow far faster than the number of people in town.

Even with a tiny cut in tax rates -- a given as Delaney starts his second term -- the city expects to collect about $14 million more from property taxes in 1999-2000, Finance Director Cal Ray said.

Property owners paid about $263 million in city taxes this year.

Until July 13, when the Mayor's Office sends a budget proposal to the City Council, a slew of city administrators will be pleading for a bigger share of the cash for projects varying from parks to mental health counseling for drug addicts.

Last fall, the city budgeted $613 million for its "general fund" expenses, the basic government services that occupy most of City Hall's attention.

With the skeleton of a new budget set, Delaney said he would spend much of this week deciding what issues should receive priority -- and extra money -- during the coming year.

"I've got some personal things, but nothing that I'd be able or willing to talk about right now," he said.

Some of the city's spare cash is likely to go into the Preservation Project, a five-year, $312.8 million initiative the mayor launched this year to buy land for preservation and improve the city's recreation system.

Another new, still undefined, expense will be the cost of police and fire services around Cecil Field Naval Air Station, which the Navy is preparing to close and hand over to the city.

The giant Westside base also has property earmarked for city parks that will require money to maintain. …

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