The public will be asked for feedback on the budget at this week’s Jacksonville City Council meeting.

“This is not a hearing to adopt the budget,” said City Manager Richard Woodruff.

Instead, Woodruff explained, it’s a meeting encouraging the community to make comments about items within the current draft budget, make suggestions on what they think the city should be doing, and give their opinions on capital projects or projects they’d like to see happen within Jacksonville.

The draft budget is available for viewing online at JacksonvilleNC.gov.

Before the meeting, the council will have a workshop that includes budget presentations. During the workshop, Woodruff said the council will look at several department requests that are not currently included in the budget, including opportunities to expand city services or make the city government more efficient.

One is in reference to Jacksonville Fire & Emergency Services. Woodruff said they’re looking at training their firefighters for advanced EMT. Firefighters are already trained as EMTs on a basic level.

Firefighters don’t take the place of EMTs the county sends on ambulances, Woodruff said, but taking them from basic to advanced would expand their abilities to provide medical support.

“Most of the time when you’re inside the city, the first unit to get to the scene of an accident or the scene of a medical emergency is city police followed by city fire department,” Woodruff said.

The city estimates it would cost $23,000 to train 45 firefighters, if that many choose to do the training, Woodruff said. There’s also the option of a pay raise for those who choose to do it, he continued, which ranges from an additional $2,000 to $7,000 annually in other cities, though they could also choose no pay raise.

The council is not scheduled to vote on this but will receive a presentation on it instead, Woodruff said. They’ll also be given information on several additional department items, including a request from parks and recreation to convert landscape islands from mulch and pine straw into brick chips and egg rock, which Woodruff said is more expensive to install but would last for five-to-seven years as opposed to needing touch-ups twice a year.

Another cost-saving measure the council will hear more about is lawnmower fuel. Woodruff said the city converted more lawnmowers to propane and found no increase in maintenance problems, and the propane is less expensive than gasoline. The city is asking to purchase a large tank to hold the propane so they can purchase in bulk and reduce the amount of deliveries – and subsequent fees that goes along with it.

This workshop and the meeting to follow are for discussion and information gathering purposes. Woodruff said no action is scheduled to be taken in regards to the budget this week.

“The council must adopt the budget for the next fiscal year no later than June 30 of this year,” Woodruff said.

The council’s workshop is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Jacksonville City Hall, located at 815 New Bridge St., followed by the city council meeting at 7 p.m. for the public hearing.

 

Reporter Amanda Thames can be reached at 910-219-8467 or Amanda.Thames@JDNews.com