Finance Committee talks about how to pay for North Main project

By Gary Scott on January 7, 2016 at 12:49pm

There was more discussion on portions of the 2016 budget for the City of Jacksonville this morning during a committee meeting.

Finance Committee chairman Don Cook says a total of $4-million included in this year’s capital improvements request has been whittled down to $2.5-million, and that the city clerk will put out a revised budget.

Cook pressed aldermen several times to give some direction on how to pay for recent improvements that have been made to the North Main Street corridor and downtown area. Cook says the city can either take $550-thousand out of the capital improvements fund or borrow from the securities fund.

“If we use the $550,000 of the security fund, then we don’t have to take a loan out of the city, and so there won’t be any interest involved if that occurs. If we have to borrow that money, then we’re going to have to pay it back at $100,000 a year over the next five years or so. One way, you’re going to pay interest, the other way, you’re not,” explains Cook.

Reporter: “Is it unusual for a project such as that to be taken out of capital improvements?

Cook: “It doesn’t happen very often. Of course, we don’t have big projects like we’ve had over the last several years, either, with the downtown project.”

Other budget items discussed this morning included a foot bridge at Lake Jacksonville at a cost of $100,000, purchasing a lawnmower instead of renting one for the Jacksonville Street Department, and updating the municipal building elevator.

Jacksonville Clerk Skip Bradshaw told aldermen there’s more money now in the city’s General Fund than any other time since he’s been in clerk. Part of the discussion this morning centered around an auditor’s advice to city officials that they should spend more cash. Cook explains.

“Over the past several years, the city has been very fiscally sound. We’ve been very frugal with all of our revenues and everything, and we’re getting to the point that we have some money, and it’d be better served if we spent the cash down instead of taking loans on certain equipment and things of that nature, we should go in and start spending some of this extra money,” he says.

Cook says the Finance Committee will meet once more before going to the full City Council with a proposed budget.