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The JHS Archives reveals lots of changes in city budget through the decades


Jacksonville Yearbook, 1940-1941.

Late in the evening on Tuesday, September 27, Jacksonville City Council passed its budget for 2016-17. The passage is just in time for the city’s new fiscal year which begins on October 1. This new budget registers just over one billion dollars—a thousand million dollars for those who are counting.

While admittedly, the City of Jacksonville increased the city’s geographic footprint dramatically in 1968 with Consolidation, this billion dollar budget, balanced with revenue and income, contrasts sharply with circumstances a century ago. In 1916, mass meetings were held in Jacksonville to discuss the increasing cost of living. In some cases, citizens advocated boycotts.

The war in Europe had drained food supplies driving domestic prices upward. The previous year, in 1915, fifty percent of the city’s tax income remained unpaid passed the deadline. While the moving picture industry was growing in Jacksonville, offering promise for the faltering economy, much of that industry would “pick up and leave” when a 1917 mayoral election and a series of events confirmed that public opinion had turned sour on the film makers.

Looking back 75 years ago, the 1941 city budget appropriation (a document in the Jacksonville Historical Society Archives) was $10,705,000. The entire budget expenditure for the “Police

“Jacksonville, nurtured in the tropics, grows towards the sky.” View from Hemming Park, 1941.

“Jacksonville, nurtured in the tropics, grows towards the sky.” View from Hemming Park, 1941.

Department,” as it was then called, cost $594,000, annual fire protection required $571,000 and the annual city pension appropriation required $208,000.

In 1941, federal government projects in the city were flush even before the nation responded to the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The Main Street Bridge (later named for John T. Alsop) was a War Department Project permitted in 1936, with construction beginning in 1938, and completed for dedication ceremonies on July17, 1941.

NAS Jax had graduated pilots for more than a year when the nation entered World War II.

Main Street Bridge, 1940s.

Main Street Bridge, 1940s.

Editor’s note: The Jacksonville Historical Society Archives maintains a collection of City of Jacksonville Annual Reports and many other local

municipal reports and records, but with gaps and omissions.  If you have any records or reports relating to the city’s business history, government history or local history in general, please considering donating those items to the Jacksonville Historical Society where they will find a good home.


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