Fresno mayor unveils a new city budget promoting growth, development, and saving

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Fresno Mayor Lee Brand emphasized economic development as the key to boosting the city's fortunes. (KFSN)

In unveiling his proposed city budget, Fresno Mayor Lee Brand emphasized economic development as the key to boosting the city's fortunes and explained why he believes the city is poised for major economic expansion.

"It's a business model, geographic center of the state, near a major transportation line, within three hours of 30 million people."

Brand said E-commerce, the Ulta Cosmetics distribution center and the expected Amazon fulfillment center, will bring thousands of jobs to the city and pump millions into the economy. At the same time it will grow the city's budget

"So it's a combination of increasing our economic base, 20 million plus, watching our general fund debt drop, potentially over $15 million, that's a gap of 30, 40, 50 million dollars-- that's the game changer for Fresno," said Brand.

Public safety gets a boost as the police and fire departments are budgeted to get new equipment and personnel.

"It's a significant increase, 21 additional police officers going to bring us to 825 sworn police officers at some point during the fiscal year," said Jerry Dyer, Fresno Police Chief.

In addition, the department would get new police substations in Southeast and Northwest Fresno. Quality of life features, like parks and trails will also see more money.

"There will be a groundbreaking later in this fiscal year which is a signature project to provide an amenity to the central part of our community which is long overdue," said Bruce Rudd, City Manager.

The city is still rebounding from years of recession; the number of city employees remains down, from a high of 4,000 to 3,200 now. Brand said, along with police and fire, other departments will grow.

"We've added back about 200 or 300 positions; we need more in all areas, police, fire, public works, parks, all the departments it just takes time."

Brand's goal is also to grow the city's reserve funds, to grow to about 10-percent of the general fund, to prevent the kinds of cuts that were made in recent years.

Brand's budget goes to the City Council and council members will have some different ideas on how to spend the city's money.

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