Fresno mayor seeks city council's support for ambitious budget plans

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Fresno Mayor Lee Brand told the City Council his budget is more than just a spending plan, his goal is to make Fresno a better place to live and work. (KFSN)

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand told the City Council his budget is more than just a spending plan, his goal is to make Fresno a better place to live and work.

"And as we improve this city, and we tackle this underlying problem of poverty, the hope is down the road, the long term, that one day, more people will become gainfully employed, get a part of the American dream, and we reduce the number of people that join gangs and are criminals. We don't have to have as many police officers," said Brand.

But until then, the plan is to beef up the police department, adding nearly two dozen more officers in the coming year, along with 50 new patrol cars and other equipment.

At the same time, Brand plans to aggressively court new business-- citing the new Ulta Cosmetics Distribution center, and the expected arrival of an Amazon fulfillment center. The mayor's expectations of thousands of jobs through economic development is being embraced.

"But the economic development piece for this community is going to be huge. We've got a lot of folks out of work that have been out of work, we are always the first to feel the recessions and the last to recover," said Luis Chavez, Fresno City Council.

Concerns were expressed about President Donald Trumps proposed budget cuts. Reductions in poverty programs like food stamps, health and child care could have a big impact on Fresno residents and business. And cuts to transportation funding could hurt the city budget-- but City Manager Bruce Rudd said it is too soon to panic.

"I don't get too worried until someone actually signs a budget."

Members of Congress have already declared President Trumps budget dead on arrival, but in Fresno, Mayor Brands budget is getting a thumbs up, and a new slogan.

"It's a brand new day, because Mayor Brand, is branding Fresno," said Chavez.

The council was all smiles Thursday, but the real work starts June 5th when council members start digging in to the budget. There are likely to be calls for more money for parks.

In addition, while the Mayor wants to hire more police officers, the department is going through a lot of turnover and even if they are budgeted getting an actual increase in officers may be challenging.

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