Government of Jacksonville facts for kids

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The government of Jacksonville is organized under the city charter and provides for a "strong" mayor–council system. The most notable feature of the government in Jacksonville, Florida is that it is consolidated with Duval County, an arrangement brought about in the 1968 Jacksonville Consolidation.

The Mayor of Jacksonville is elected to four-year terms and serves as the head of the government's executive branch. The Jacksonville City Council comprises nineteen members, fourteen representing electoral districts and five more in at-large seats. The mayor oversees most city departments, though some are independent or quasi-independent. Law enforcement is provided by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, headed by an elected sheriff, public schools are overseen by Duval County Public Schools, and several services are provided by largely independent authorities.

Administrative structure

The most noteworthy feature of Jacksonville's government is its consolidated nature. The 1968 Duval County-Jacksonville consolidation eliminated any type of separate county executive or legislature, and supplanted these positions with the Mayor of Jacksonville and the City Council of the City of Jacksonville, respectively. Because of this, voters who live outside of the city limits of Jacksonville, but inside of Duval County, are allowed not only to vote in elections for these positions, but to run for them as well. In fact, in 1995, John Delaney, a resident of Neptune Beach, was elected mayor of the City of Jacksonville.

In 1968, the small municipalities of Baldwin, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach and Jacksonville Beach voted not to join the consolidated government. The four separate communities, which comprise only 6% of the total county population, provide their own municipal services, while maintaining the right to contract with the consolidated government to provide services. In December 2005, the city council of Baldwin in the far western portion of Duval County voted to eliminate their police department. In March 2006, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office assumed policing responsibilities for the one-square mile town.

Executive

The St. James Building, the seat of city government in Jacksonville.

Mayor

Jacksonville uses the Mayor-Council form of city government, also called the Strong-Mayor form, in which a mayor serves as the city's Chief Executive and Administrative officer. The mayor holds veto power over all resolutions and ordinances made by the city council, and also has the power to hire and fire the head of various city departments. The current mayor is Lenny Curry. He began his first term on July 1, 2015.

Jacksonville Constitutional Officers
Office Name Party Term Ends
Mayor Lenny Curry Republican 2019
Sheriff Mike Williams Republican 2019
Property Appraiser Jerry Holland Republican 2019
Tax Collector Michael Corrigan Republican 2019
Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan Republican 2019
Clerk of the Circuit & County Courts Ronnie Fussell Republican 2017
State Attorney Melissa Nelson Republican 2020
Public Defender Charlie Cofer Republican 2020

Law enforcement

Jacksonville and Duval County historically maintained separate police agencies: the Jacksonville Police Department and Duval County Sheriff's Office. As part of consolidation in 1968, the two merged, creating the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (JSO). The JSO is headed by the elected Sheriff of Duval County, currently Mike Williams, and is responsible for law enforcement and corrections in the county.

Firefighting and rescue

The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD) is responsible for all fire protection and rescue service (ambulance) in Duval County with exceptions. Jacksonville Beach has its own department, while Atlantic Beach provides a fire station facility that is staffed and equipped by JFRD. Baldwin has a (mostly) volunteer fire department and Neptune Beach relies on Atlantic Beach for fire protection. The current JFRD Director/Fire Chief is Kurt Wilson. This position is appointed by the Mayor.

Autonomous agencies

Some government services remained - as they had been prior to consolidation – independent of both city and county authority. In accordance with Florida law, the Duval County School Board continues to exist with nearly complete autonomy. Jacksonville also has several quasi-independent government agencies which only nominally answer to the consolidated authority, including JEA, Jacksonville Port Authority, Jacksonville Transportation Authority, Jacksonville Housing Authority and Jacksonville Aviation Authority. The main environmental and agricultural body is the Duval County Soil and Water Conservation District, which works closely with other area and state agencies.

Office of General Counsel

The Office of the General Counsel (OGC), currently led by Jason R. Gabriel, includes 39 attorneys, making it one of the largest and diverse law firms in Jacksonville. It operates just like a private firm because “clients” are billed in detail for legal services provided. Clients include the public utility provider (JEA), the school district (Duval County Public Schools), Airport, Seaport, Transportation and Housing Authorities, constitutional officers (Mayor, Supervisor of Elections, Property Appraiser, Sheriff, Tax Collector and Clerk of Court), 10 departments, 19 City Council members, and 40+ boards, commissions, and agencies. Due to this unusual client list, the General Counsel’s website states that they offer support for areas that include commercial, personal injury, constitutional & civil rights litigation, real estate, land use, environmental law, labor and employment law, education law, workers' compensation, eminent domain, foreclosures, evictions, bankruptcy, torts, municipal finance, procurement, contract negotiation and drafting, as well as a variety of economic development and transactional areas.

The 1967 Charter that created Jacksonville's consolidated form of government included a provision for the Office of General Counsel. Under the Charter, the OGC represents all Jacksonville government entities and the office has developed the expertise to advise clients on municipal law and Jacksonville's Charter and consolidated form of government. The Charter also states that any legal opinion rendered by the General Counsel is binding on the entire consolidated government. Since 1968, General Counsels have issued over 370 binding legal opinions. In the early years of consolidation, legal opinions were critical to the successful establishment Jacksonville’s consolidated government and the elimination of litigation between entities.

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