September 4, 2008

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


City Council Chamber

1st Floor, City Hall

117 W. Duval Street



Attendance: Chairman Michael Corrigan, Committee Members Daniel Davis, Jack Webb (arr. 1:15 p.m., dep. 5:05 p.m.), Clay Yarborough, Warren Jones, Stephen Joost, and Art Graham

Guest: Council President Fussell (arr. 10:10 a.m.)


The meeting was called to order at 9:03 a.m.


Chairman Corrigan announced to the committee and the audience that discussion of the Jacksonville Journey proposal is being deferred while he and President Fussell are meeting with the Mayor and his staff to craft a substitute proposal, which they hope will be ready to report to the Finance Committee at the September 15th committee meeting.


All references from this point refer to the Council Auditor’s budget handout for Meeting #2, originally scheduled for August 14, 2008, rescheduled to September 4, 2008.


Emergency Reserve

Kirk Sherman explained that the fund shows an accounting transaction to carry-over the $37 million remaining in this year’s emergency reserve to the next fiscal year. Finance Director Mickey Miller stated that storm cleanup costs from Tropical Storm Fay are still being tabulated, but the City hopes to recover 87-90% of the cost from FEMA and the state.

p. 1 – recommendations 1-4 tentatively approved.

pp. 2-3 tentatively approved.


Supervisor of Elections

Supervisor Jerry Holland explained that his budget varies considerably from year to year depending on the number of elections scheduled.  The new budget will fund one general election rather than two in the current year.  The committee asked several questions about early voting locations.  Mr. Holland indicated that early voting sites cost approximately $22,000 apiece to operate, and need to balance convenience for voters versus cost and anticipated turnout for the particular election.  His office is operated 10 early voting sites for the August primary election and will have the full complement of 15 in operation for the November general election for which record turnout is predicted.  A City Council-only election may only warrant 5 locations at regional libraries because of the much lower anticipated turnout.  Mr. Holland thinks that 2 full weeks of early voting is excessively costly since many campaigns are geared toward a publicity blitz in the final week before Election Day and many voters don’t make up their minds until then.  He recommends that the Florida Legislature be asked to amend the state law to provide for 8 days of early voting (the two weekends and intervening week prior to the election day).


The committee discussed the Auditor’s recommendation to stop paying for return postage on absentee ballots at a cost savings of $52,200 as Jacksonville is the only county in the state paying that cost.  Mr. Holland suggested that now is not the time to make such a substantial change in the electoral system between a primary and a general election – the public is sure to be confused by the change and potentially thousands of absentee ballots could be uncounted if returned to sender by the Post Office for lack of postage.  He recommended that if the Council desires to make that change, it should be made in time for the 2010 general election and widely publicized at that time.  Changing the policy now would also require that at least some of the $52,200 be retained in the budget to pay the costs of ballots that come in to his office with insufficient postage from the voter (to avoid their being returned and uncounted) and to pay for reprinting of the absentee ballot envelopes that already are postage paid. 

p. 5 – tentatively approve recommendation #1 regarding pay rate for Call Center personnel; do NOT approve recommendation #2 regarding return postage for absentee ballots.


In closing Mr. Holland noted that his budget does not include any funding for a full recount of the General Election results if that circumstance should come to pass.


Health Administrator

pp. 6-7 tentatively approved.


Medical Examiner

Terri McCracken of the Medical Examiner’s Office requested a carry-over of ITD internal service charges for technology projects underway this fiscal year that will not be completed by year-end and for the addition of equipment to increase bandwidth availability for the office’s laptop computers.  Computer system upgrades are also necessary to bill the other counties for the services the Medical Examiner provides pursuant to the new contracts recently approved by Council. This request was not approved as funding for a Case Management System for the Medical Examiner’s Office is still included in the Banking Fund as a current project.

p. 8 tentatively approved.


Mayor’s Office

p. 9 tentatively approved.


Mayor’s Boards and Commissions

p. 10 tentatively approved.


Central Operations Department

Director of Central Operations Devin Reed stated that his department is running on a lean budget and has not engaged in year-end expenditures to use up funds that might otherwise lapse back into the General Fund reserve at the end of the fiscal year.  He is comfortable that the Auditor’s recommended reduction in Printing and Binding will not hurt operations.

p. 11 tentatively approved.


Fleet Management

p. 12 tentatively approved.


Fleet Management – Vehicle Replacement

Mr. Reed stated that the city is getting 4-5 years of life from most vehicles and is stretching the replacement schedule to 6-7 years wherever possible.  An exception is rescue vehicles, which are cycled out of service as soon as they’re fully amortized for safety reasons; many are sold at auction to other jurisdictions for surplus value.

pp. 13-20 – Auditor’s recommendations tentatively approved.

Motion (Yarborough) – enforce a “keys to keys” policy requiring departments to turn in their old vehicle to Fleet Management before they can take possession of a replacement vehicle – tentatively approved.



Copy Center

p. 21 tentatively approved.


Group Health

p. 22 tentatively approved.


Council President Fussell arrived at 10:10 a.m.


Jacksonville Transportation Authority

Principal Auditor Kyle Billy briefly reviewed the JTA’s various budgets on pp. 23-48. He indicated that the City and JTA are still working from the 2000 Better Jacksonville Plan sales tax and gas tax projections which are deviating further and further from the original projections as the years go by.  The sales tax is under-performing over time while the gas tax is over-performing to a roughly equivalent degree.

pp. 23-48 tentatively approved, including Auditor’s recommendations #1-3 on p. 41.


Council Member Yarborough distributed a list compiled by the Auditor’s Office of all City officials receiving a monthly automobile allowance for work-related use of their personal vehicles.  He recommended that the 5 allowances not authorized by the Ordinance Code be halted and that one allowance of $300 per month be reduced to $250 per month to comply with the Code.  Chairman Corrigan suggested it might be less expensive for the City to pay more employees monthly allowances instead of providing City vehicles.


The meeting was recessed from 10:22 to 10:33 a.m.


Fire and Rescue Department

pp. 49-50 tentatively approved.


Council President Fussell proposed a plan to put Ladder Company #31 and two new rescue units (#54 and #55) into service earlier in the upcoming fiscal year than the department’s plan contemplates by using existing equipment and appropriating Council Contingency funds for the personnel.  The ladder truck already exists for Ladder 31 but needs funding for staffing and an increase in the department’s employee cap by 15 to start service in April.  Two existing spare rescue units could be used as Rescue 54 and 55 while the purchase of the new vehicles is taking place, putting those units in service in January 2009 rather than April. 

Motion: increase the JFRD employee cap by 15 and appropriate the additional funds ($783,959) needed to staff Ladder #31 for use in April 2009 and to operate Rescue #54 and 55 beginning in January 2009, contingent upon funding being available in the Special Council Contingency Fund at the end of the budget process– tentatively approved.

Fire and Rescue Director Dan Kleman noted that additional funding is needed ($120,000) to fully equip Ladder 31 for service.


The meeting was recessed at 10:55 a.m. for lunch and reconvened at 1:15 p.m.


Attendance: Chairman Michael Corrigan, Committee Members Yarborough, Joost, Jones, Graham (arr. 1:25 p.m. following a meeting of Northeast Florida Regional Council), Webb, Davis (arr. 2:34)

Guest: Council Member Redman (arr. 1:27 p.m.)


All references from this point refer to the Council Auditor’s budget handout for Meeting #3, originally scheduled for August 14, 2008, rescheduled to September 4, 2008.


Chairman Corrigan announced to the committee and the audience that discussion of the Jacksonville Journey proposal is being deferred while he and President Fussell are meeting with the Mayor and his staff to craft a substitute proposal, which they hope will be ready to report to the Finance Committee at the September 15th committee meeting.


Tax Collector

Tax Collector Mike Hogan told the committee that the City’s contribution to the Tax Collector’s budget has decreased 25% over the last three years due to increased operational efficiencies and better use of technology.  He noted that is office loses some potential revenue because of Jacksonville residents utilizing tax collector offices in St. Johns, Nassau, Baker and Clay counties because of more convenient locations.  The new Argyle office will help recapture some of the customers currently being lost in the southwest area of town.  Mr. Hogan challenged the calculation of a $399,000 lapse for his office as being excessive.  He requested an appropriation from Tax Collector interest earnings the amount of $1,711,478 for three technology-related projects: 1) “imaging at the counter” technology - $511,478; 2) archiving of old documents - $750,000; and 3) upgrade/replacement of surveillance systems at the nine branch offices - $450,000. 


Council Member Redman arrived at 1:27 p.m.


Kirk Sherman noted that the proposals do not appear to have been reviewed and recommended by the City’s Information Technology Steering Committee as required.  Alison Luker of the Tax Collector’s Office stated that the office is happy to work with City ITD on procurement when they can and will do so for these purchases, except for the “imaging at the counter” equipment.  That equipment must interface with the Tax Collector’s state systems and ITD does not support that portion of their computer operation.  Mr. Hogan expressed his frustration with having to use the City’s and State’s procurement systems to purchase items at inflated prices that could easily be purchased for considerably less by the average citizen at any local retail store.  City CAO Alan Mosley vigorously disputed the notion that City procurement is inherently more expensive than off-the-street retail purchasing and requested an opportunity to have an extended discussion of procurement outside of the budget process using a fair set of mutually agreeable facts.  In response to a question about when the IT Steering Committee could meet next to review and comment on the Tax Collector’s three proposed purchases, Mr. Mosley indicated that a meeting could be convened before the Council takes final action on the budget on September 23rd.


The committee discussed with Mr. Hogan why the Tax Collector and JEA no longer share branch offices.  He indicated that he is in favor of recombining those offices, but there are some problems that would need to be overcome such as JEA offices being open on Saturday when state government offices are not open and state transactions (i.e. automobile tags) could not be processed.


p. 1 tentatively approved.

Tax Collector’s three proposed technology purchase requests deferred pending review by the IT Steering Committee prior to final budget adoption.


Recreation and Community Services Department

Chairman Corrigan speculated that the City may be spending more time and resources tracking and documenting expenditures for food and beverages as mandated by the Ordinance Code than the value of the food and beverage itself.  The intention was surely good; can these expenditures be tracked in some less expensive way?

pp. 2-3 tentatively approved.


Alcohol Rehabilitation Program

In response to a question, Recreation and Community Development Director Ros Phillips stated that the Alcohol Rehabilitation Program is not duplicating any functions already funded through the Public Service Grant process.  She explained that the Human Services Council used to coordinate and watch out for program overlap but that body has been inactive for several months.  Linda Lanier, Executive Director of the Children’s Commission, is leading an effort to reformulate and revitalize the organization.  Council Members Joost and Yarborough expressed their continuing concern that bits and pieces of grant funding keep appearing in various departmental budgets and don’t seem to be coordinated by or through the Public Service Grant process.

p. 4 tentatively approved.


Huguenot Park

Kelly Boree, Deputy Director of the Department of Recreation and Community Affairs, stated that the increased entrance fee, annual pass fee and camper rental fees will help cover the park’s operational costs but will still not make it self-funded; Hanna Park revenues are still used to supplement the Huguenot Park budget.

p. 5 tentatively approved.


Hanna Park

p. 6 tentatively approved.


Florida Boater Improvement Program

p. 7 tentatively approved.


Cecil Commerce Center recreation

p. 8 tentatively approved.


Driver Education Safety Trust Fund

p. 9 tentatively approved.


Choose Life Trust Fund

p. 10 tentatively approved.


Public Service Grant Funds

Alberta Hipps, Chair of the PSG Committee, discussed the application review process and the committee’s adherence to the Council’s priority populations for funding. 

pp. 11-12 tentatively approved 6-1 (Yarborough opposed).


Jacksonville Human Rights Commission

p. 13 tentatively approved.


Downtown Vision Inc.

Executive Director Terry Lorrince explained that DVI had budgeted for an increase in the City’s contribution from $229,747 to $364,118 as a result of the City’s increasing downtown land holdings in recent years (Main Library, Ed Ball Building).  The increased property value multiplied by DVI’s 1.1 mill levy produced the new figure.  The Council Auditor recommended the City continue to pay the lower assessment.

pp. 14-16 tentatively approved.


The General Counsel’s Office distributed a suggested amendment to the budget ordinance approving the non-ad valorem assessment on downtown properties of 1.1 mill on all non-exempt commercial property and correcting a reference to the City’s latest ordinance reauthorizing the Downtown Business Improvement District.

Motion (suggested by Chairman Corrigan): amend the OGC’s proposed budget amendment language to move the venue of the Downtown Business Improvement District annual public hearing from the Finance Committee to the JEDC Board – approved

Motion: tentatively approve the OGC’s proposed budget ordinance text amendment as amended – approved.


Finance Department

p. 17 tentatively approved.





p. 18 tentatively approved.


Insured Programs

p. 19 tentatively approved.


General Employees’ Pension Administration

pp. 20-22 tentatively approved.


Correctional Officers Pension Trust

p. 23 tentatively approved.


Police and Fire Pension Administration

pp. 24-26 tentatively approved.


Haverty’s Building Concerns

The Council Auditor’s handout noted that the proposed budget includes a $2 million contribution from the City to the project in addition to $2 million provided last year, increasing the total project cost from the original $10 million to $14 million.  The Police and Fire Pension Fund is paying $10 million of the cost and is guaranteed a specific rate of return on their investment.  The City is asked to contribute the additional $4 million to cover increased project costs from unanticipated construction issues, new furniture, fixtures and equipment, and IT build-out.  John Keane, Executive Director of the Police and Fire Pension, explained the project’s history, described the unknowns that led to the discovery of problems that required a remedy and increased the overall cost, and noted that with a relatively small investment in some new construction on the interior, the Pension Fund created 10,000 additional square feet of usable space in the building.  The committee discussed the Police and Fire Pension Fund’s performance and its unfunded liability.  Council Member Joost questioned the fund’s rate of return assumptions and the effect of those assumptions on the fund’s ability to meet its obligations to its retirees.


Capital Improvement Program (CIP)

Council Member Yarborough questioned why a Craig Airport Runway Extension project is listed in the CIP if it is not allowed under the City’s Comprehensive Plan and the JAA has no approval from any governmental agency to undertake the project?  Michael Stewart, spokesman for the JAA, stated that the project is listed because the CIP is a planning document and a project cannot be studied for its possible merits without being in the CIP.  He stated that the JAA is proposing a $500,000 environmental assessment of the proposed runway extension in the first year of the 2009-13 CIP; the remainder of the project is in out years of the plan and is not funded.  The environmental assessment is a necessary first step toward determining if the extension is even a viable project worth considering.


Motion (Yarborough): on p. 34 delete lines 92-93 regarding Craig Airport Runway Extension – motion dies for lack of a second.


Council Member Yarborough described his frustration at not yet receiving a legal opinion he requested several months ago regarding how the JAA can keep pursuing  a project that the City Council has clearly prohibited.  Council Member Davis agreed that such an opinion should be produced in a timely manner and suggested that he and Mr. Yarborough may schedule a noticed meeting with the Office of General Counsel to discuss this issue.

pp. 28-44 tentatively approved.


City Banking Fund

pp. 45-64 tentatively approved.


General Capital Projects

p. 65 tentatively approved.

Grant Capital Improvement Projects

p. 66 tentatively approved.


Jacksonville Port Authority

Principal Auditor Kyle Billy briefly reviewed the JPA’s various budgets on pp. 67-76.  In response to a question from Council Member Jones, Rick Ferrin, Executive Director of the Authority, stated that Jaxport was fairly successful in FY08 at getting state grant funds for port projects in Jacksonville, and the authority has high hopes for FY09 because of an infusion of federal port dollars through the state for which Jacksonville should qualify.  In response to a question from Council Member Webb about the companies doing the bulk of the work on the port’s new Dames Point terminal, Mr. Ferrin stated that the two primary companies are from Mississippi and South Florida, but they are hiring large numbers of local workers.

p. 67-76 tentatively approved.


All references from this point refer to the Council Auditor’s budget handout for Wrap-Up Budget Hearing, September 4, 2008.


Solid Waste Division


Solid Waste Disposal

p. 1 tentatively approved.


Solid Waste - Contamination Assessment

p. 2 tentatively approved.


Landfill Closure

p. 3 tentatively approved.


Solid Waste Facilities Mitigation

p. 4 tentatively approved.


Solid Waste Facilities Mitigation – Class III

p. 5 tentatively approved.


Solid Waste Pollution Remediation

p. 6 tentatively approved.


Clerk of the Courts

A representative of the Clerk’s Office requested that the office be permitted to retain $11,000 recommended by the Council Auditor for transfer to Special Council Contingency for employee training and associated travel.  The committee declined the request.

pp. 7-8 tentatively approved.



The Council Auditor then distributed a one-page list of 12 items previously postponed or otherwise remaining to be resolved at the conclusion of the budget hearing process:


  1. Budgets on which action was postponed:
    • Solid Waste Division – tentatively approved above.
    • Clerk of the Courts – tentatively approved above.
    • Jacksonville Journey – postponed pending further negotiations between the Council President and Finance Committee Chair and the Mayor’s Office.


  1. North Florida Regional Council – funding previously placed below the line: funding restored above the line and tentatively approved.
  2. Executive Order prohibiting transfer of salary and benefits funds to other operating lines: budget text reinforcing the Executive Order tentatively approved.


Council Member Webb indicated that he might explore the need to amend the Ordinance Code and/or City Charter to prohibit the practice in a more permanent form than an executive order that can be revoked by a future mayor.


  1. Public Service Grants – the Auditor’s Office distributed a previously requested schedule of all PSG recipients for FY06-07, FY07-08 and proposed FY08-09 showing which were funded from other City sources besides PSGs: for information only – no action taken.


  1. CDBG grants to Clara White Mission ($14,212) and Catholic Charities Bureau ($60,788) previously placed “below the line” for further consideration: grant funding restored “above the line” and tentatively approved.


  1. Ethics Office budget previously put “below the line” for further consideration: funding restored above the line and tentatively approved.

      Chairman Corrigan expressed his dismay that the committee’s action to put the budget      temporarily “below the line” in order to obtain further information was portrayed in the media as    a repudiation of the office or as an indication of a lack of support for ethical standards in     government – the committee simply needed some questions answered before it felt comfortable             taking action.  Managing Deputy General Counsel Steve Rohan stated that there is no duplication of functions between the Ethics Office and the Office of General Counsel’s Ethics Counsel.  The            Ethics Counsel provides legal opinions and interprets the law and its application to specific      circumstances; the Ethics Office provides training, record keeping, oversees compliance with    Ordinance Code Chapter 602, operates the confidential ethics hotline, cooperates with the             Inspector General’s investigations, etc.


  1. Jacksonville Symphony rent forgiveness ($109,000 increase in the General Fund subsidy to SMG to compensate for revenue loss from forgiving the symphony’s rental fee) previously placed “below the line”: the committee discussed at length the appropriateness of rent forgiveness for the symphony.  Chief Administrative Officer Alan Mosley stated that the Mayor chose to recommend the rent forgiveness in order to treat the symphony the same as other not-for-profit entities that use City facilities in the downtown area at little or no cost and reminded the committee that the Symphony Association raised $14 million in private donations toward the cost of renovating the Civic Auditorium into the new Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts.  The committee also discussed a variety of mechanisms for providing such relief should the Council decide that such relief is an appropriate policy, including appropriating funds to SMG to make up their budget deficit from the removal of the expected rent revenue and directing the symphony to the Cultural Service Grant process to request an appropriation for rent costs.

      Motion (Joost): appropriate an additional $109,000 to the Public Service Grant Committee          allocation for the committee to review and consider the symphony’s rent forgiveness request on            its merits – withdrawn.

      Motion (Graham): restore the $109,000 General Fund rent forgiveness subsidy “above the line”, appropriate it to a designated Cultural Council contingency fund “below the line”, and ask the     Cultural Service Grant committee to consider the symphony’s rent forgiveness request; if the         request is approved then the $109,000 subsidy will be appropriated by Council “above the line”       and paid to the Jacksonville Symphony as reimbursement for rent paid at the T-U Center; if the request is not approved then the $109,000 stays within the General Fund in a designated    contingency account – tentatively approved 4-0 (Webb and Corrigan absent).


  1. Detail on CIP allocation of $7.4 million for community center rehabs requested by Council Member Davis: information only – no action taken.


  1. Lapse calculation for Sheriff’s Office: no discussion.


  1. Capitalization of ITD software development costs (borrowing the cost of salaries, benefits and professional services costs attributable to software development from the City Banking Fund and amortizing the costs over 3 years): defer to September 15 meeting.


  1. Contingency funds - sweeping all remaining amounts at year-end from all contingency accounts to a single account: no discussion.


  1. Drug Court: request for additional $100,000: no discussion.


Council Member Webb departed at 5:05 p.m.


Motion (Graham): delete $16,000 from the budget of the Recreation and Community Services Department to cease operation of the canning kitchen.  Ros Philips reported that the City received no response to its RFP for an entity to operate the canning kitchen independent of City funding.  Currently the center is being operated by Master Gardeners on a volunteer basis – the $16,000 in funding is for maintenance of the equipment and operation of the building which, in addition to the canning kitchen, also hosts educational programs provided by the Agricultural Extension Service on food safety, nutrition, home economics, etc.  Motion fails 2-4 (Graham and Joost in favor).


Council Member Yarborough clarified a point from an earlier discussion about the Craig Airport runway extension and his request for a legal opinion on the subject.  He has gotten a verbal response from the Office of General Counsel but has not gotten a formal written opinion.  Steve Rohan responded that the subject matter is complex and several attorneys in the General Counsel’s Office are working on the matter, but he cannot guarantee that a binding written legal opinion will be the result.  There are other parties involved (i.e. the Federal Aviation Administration) who aren’t bound by City legal opinions, and there are significant factual disputes regarding the subject matter.  Therefore, Mr. Rohan cautioned that a binding legal opinion may not be most appropriate mechanism for responding to the questions being raised, but he assured Mr. Yarborough that the Office of General Counsel would address his concerns.


Council Member Yarborough distributed a list of City take-home vehicles he had requested from the Council Auditor.  In response to a question, Kirk Sherman indicated that providing City employees with a take-home vehicle is generally the most expensive of the methods of providing an employee with necessary mobility (compared to providing a monthly vehicle allowance or reimbursing for mileage for the use of a personal vehicle). 

Motion (Yarborough): provide monthly auto allowances to 23 department directors and division chiefs highlighted on the take-home vehicle list just distributed and retrieve their take-home vehicles – motion withdrawn in consideration of an agreement by CAO Alan Mosley to study the issue in detail, check the policies of comparable jurisdictions and produce a plan that is fair and equitable to both the City and the employees for presentation to the Finance Committee at the second committee meeting in October (October 20th).


Council Member Yarborough noted the unfortunate death of a JSO officer the previous night in a traffic accident and expressed the committee’s condolences to the officer’s family and to the Sheriff’s Office.


Chairman Corrigan thanked everyone involved for a job well done on the budget process.  Final decisions will be made at the Finance Committee meeting on September 15th.  Council Member Joost suggested that the Council may wish to continue last year’s in-depth two percent budget withholding analysis process.


Mr. Sherman announced that at the end of the budget hearing process the Special Council Contingency Fund stands at $204,623.


There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:20 p.m.



Jeff Clements, Chief

Council Research Division





Posted 9.12.08

4:40 p.m.