Funding to remove Springfield Confederate monument could be renamed

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Money previously set aside specifically to remove the Jacksonville Confederate Monument could now be renamed to reflect the outcome of long-awaited community conversations regarding the statue’s future.

City Council’s finance committee met Tuesday morning to discuss and propose changes to Mayor Lenny Curry’s capital improvement program. Curry, a supporter of removing the “Confederation Women’s Monument” in Springfield Park, included $500,000 in the CIP to go towards its “removal”. The Finance Committee voted 6-1 to propose changing the position to “Removal, relocation, retention or renaming of Confederate monument as determined by council,” to reflect verbiage previously decided in the city’s strategic plan.

Curry’s proposal: “Jacksonville Mayor Curry Budgets $500,000 to Remove Confederate Monuments, Facing Divided Council”

Community Conversations: “Jacksonville Confederate Monuments Debate Resurfaces With ‘Community Conversation’ Proposal”

“We had two bills that didn’t pass, one wanting to keep them and one wanting to repeal them,” Aaron Bowman, chairman of the finance committee, said at the meeting. “And, our strategic plan is talking about a conversation so we can all feel good about where we’re going and have a source of funding for that.”

In the weeks following Curry’s budget announcement, city council meetings featured a flurry of public comments calling for eliminating the money from the budget altogether and, alternatively, pushing to keep the money and move to removal of monuments.

Bowman acknowledged that the council had previously scheduled the community conversation series to take place before the budget hearings. Despite the time lapse, he told the committee that by leaving the money in the budget, they could proceed with the plan regardless of the eventual outcome of the conversation.

Council member Matt Carlucci was the only committee member to vote against changing the name of the article. Carlucci mentioned his previously proposed bill to remove the statue from Springfield Park which the council rejected in June.

“I just think we talked about it,” Carlucci said during the meeting. “This is just my opinion after so many conversations with so many people and so many community leaders in Jacksonville. So I just want to make sure I stay consistent with how I feel about this particular issue.

Council rejects Carlucci’s bill: ‘Jacksonville City Council says no to removal of Confederate monuments, but it’s not a final vote’

The full city council will still have to approve the budget and the new formulation of the budget line in September. If there is money left over but the city ultimately decides to keep the monument, the money simply won’t be borrowed.

If, however, the city decides to go ahead with the removal or relocation of the monument, the $500,000 will not be enough. Curry had previously anticipated and requested $1.3 million for the withdrawal. Additional funds would therefore likely come from partnerships, donations or grants.

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