Fresno police budget hopes to survive without Measure G funds

FRESNO, California

"We're still hoping to go forward with 717 officers as our base, down from 849 a few years and we are still down some 280 plus civilian employees in our unit, but we are hoping we can start rebuilding our police department," said Chief Dyer.

The departments projected budget for the coming year is $146 million, down about a million dollars from last year. But the manpower shortage combined with threats to officers will temporarily reduce the police presence in the community. Gang members have issued a new threat to police officers so for now; Dyer says they are patrolling two to a car.

Chief Dyer explained, "So what we really end up doing is decreasing the visibility of uniformed cars, or marked cars out in the field even though we have the same number of officers."

But in the long run, Dyer says increasing visibility, getting more officers on the streets will require more money. With the potential failure of Measure G, Jacky Parks the head of the Fresno Police Officers Association is hoping the city council and mayor will be more receptive to his unions offer to make up to $9 million in concessions.

Parks said, "One can only hope there's been a lesson learned and that people can set aside their emotions for politics and roll up their sleeves and let's start doing something that can benefit our community."

In the past Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and City Council members have balked at the union's offer, saying it had too many strings attached. But with the vote count showing Measure G is unlikely to pass, Swearengin has been meeting with labor groups and explaining the need for concessions. But Parks says the Mayor has yet to talk to him.

Swearengin is expected to present a new budget proposal to the City Council on Wednesday, without funds from Measure G.

The Mayor had figured the measure would bring in about $4 million the first year and two and a half million in subsequent years by privatizing the city's garbage collection service.

The private hauler, Mid Valley Disposal would have paid the money as a franchise fee to the city. The move would have disbanded the city's 80 year old garbage service and cost 150 employees their jobs with the city. They would have been guaranteed employment with Mid Valley for just one year, at reduced pay and benefits.

Organized labor lead the charge against Measure G and despite being outspent in the million dollar campaign they appear to have prevailed. As of the last count the measure failed by 193 votes. An updated count of more than 2,000 absentee and provisional ballots is expected Wednesday.

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