Fresno Mayor proposes $1.187 billion budget with big reserve the city council may try to tap

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno Mayor Lee Brand unveiled his new budget plan for the city Wednesday.

"It represents our continued strategy to use a sensible and balanced approach to make our city a better place to live, work, raise our children and enjoy life," he said.

Brand's proposed $1,187 billion budget is $41 million over last year's budget. But city operations won't change much because most of the money, $34 million, will go into a reserve fund, which the Mayor says is important.

"It's absolutely imperative that this city to be fiscally prudent to maintain a reserve," Brand said. "Because everything is going fine right now, but there will be a day when that recession comes and we will need that money."

But, city councilmember Miguel Arias says the city is out of the recession. The economy is good and the budget needs to address the city's needs.

"There's far too many needs in this city to have a status quo budget," he said.

Arias believes the budget reserve, which is ten percent of the city's general fund of $346 million, and the city has the discretion to spend, may be too big.

"It's always important to have an appropriate, responsible reserve but 10 percent might be too high given the competing priorities we have in the city today," Arias said.

Brand authored the Budget Reserve Act when he was on the city council. This is the first time the city has had enough revenue to put ten percent aside.

"Had we had a reserve in 2009 when I came in, it would have had a huge impact on buffering the impact of the great recession," the Mayor said.

Since the massive layoffs during the recession, the city has restored more than 700 jobs. This budget only calls for adding only three more positions, for a proposal to create a new neighborhood services department to handle code enforcement issues.

Police chief Jerry Dyer is getting 71 new patrol cars, along with new bulletproof vests, but no new officers.

"Overall, it's a fiscally prudent budget certainly all of us would like to add personnel and we are not," Dyer said.

The budget calls for a new fire station and adds four percent to the city parks budget.

The city council will begin hearings on the Mayor's budget on June 4.
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