Fresno's budget balancing act may slip

FRESNO, Calif.

City Council President Lee Brand has learned other options may be back on the table. "There's no agreement between the FPOA and the City and we're moving forward to address the budget shortfall."

Technically the talks are still underway and FPOA President Jacky Parks has offered to ask his members to accept some concessions. But he acknowledged to Action News the offer was less than what the Mayor wanted. "The offer we made them was not a three percent offer." He added; "It's late in the 4th quarter and the ball is in their, (the city's) court."

Without elaborating, Brand said the FPOA's offer contained conditions the city could not accept. He added it's likely to mean other cuts in city services. "The end result will probably be some more furloughs, definitely be departmental cuts across the board, I don't believe closing Fire stations will be an option, that's off the table."

Brand doesn't believe additional employees will have to be laid off. City Council Member Blong Xiong believes the Mayor may revive proposals to cut parks, pools and senior citizen programs. He says he may once again call for the police helicopter to be grounded saving half a million dollars. He says the city can't afford to keep delaying tough action. "I think waiting doesn't do anything for us. We're going to have to make some of those decisions."

The Fresno City Council will take a look at the budget situation on Thursday.

The council on Thursday will also take a vote on the privatization of commercial garbage collection. It's been billed as a way to save the city $2 million, but the deal is expected to face legal challenges. A spokesman for Fresno's mayor said the administration would not have a comment on the budget until Wednesday at the earliest.

Late Tuesday the administration announced the departure of City Controller Joe Gray, and the reshuffling of other administrative positions, which could save up to $100,000 per year.

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