Jacksonville hopes new budget will improve quality of life

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The Jacksonville City Council is preparing their budget for the fiscal year.

The city has $45 million from the general fund and another $30 million from water and sewer to work with.

The council held a workshop Tuesday to discuss adding projects to its capital improvement plan.

Projects include adding a welcome center at the downtown boat launch.

The city is currently considering designs such as an open air pavilion or a closed-in space.

Then there is the $3.6 million dollar Sturgeon City Education Center project, which was recently redesigned to stay within budget.

“We’ve been lucky that we’ve been able to hold the programs that we have with the space we have now,” said Paula Farnell, Sturgeon City director. “This is going to increase our capacity; probably at least triple it in terms of our educational programs.”

The hope is there will be increased opportunities for conferences at the center and driving tourism to downtown.

“The money’s in the budget, but we haven’t gotten the complete plans in terms of going out to bid yet,” said Farnell. “We have a meeting coming up in a couple weeks for that.”

Jacksonville’s city manager says the quality of life is on the forefront of the council’s decision making.

“For the past five to seven years, the city has been playing a game of catch up on improving some of our buildings,” said Richard Woodruff, Jacksonville city manager.

The city is focusing its efforts along New Bridge Street, getting rid of for sale signs and bringing in new businesses.

“It is now time for us to look at quality-of-life issues,” said Woodruff. “How we can expand our parks and recreation quality. Not necessarily programmatically but the physical structures.”

Woodruff said the city will not ask the council to raise property taxes as of now.

The council is spending the next 30 days thinking of improvement projects to add to the improvement plan

The Jacksonville city manager said the council will be adding additional projects before its June 30 deadline.

Some of those will be heard at its next council meeting in February.

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