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Government & Politics

Fresno Budget Proposes $1.4 Billion Spending Plan To Increase Public Safety, Homeless Initiatives

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Dyer administration department directors pose for a photo.

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer presented his administration’s $1.4 billion budget proposal at City Hall Wednesday. The City Council will review it during Thursday’s meeting. Spending includes a focus on public safety, homeless initiatives, public works and the creation of a citywide senior center.

Dyer said city projections show a rise in property taxes and sales tax revenues as the economy starts to reopen. He referenced a recent LA Times article showing Fresno has the nation’s hottest housing market.

“I am extremely confident, as is City Manager Esqueda, that the City of Fresno is poised to rebound financially, faster than any city in California,” he said.

 

 

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Mayor Jerry Dyer presents budget at City Hall.

The city budget includes hiring 153 new positions, most of it going to the police and fire departments. Police Chief Paco Balderrama said his department is severely understaffed. 

He cited Fresno’s growing number of crimes due to the pandemic. In 2020, Fresno saw 74 homicides, the highest number in 25 years. Last year also saw a record number of shootings. Balderrama has a plan to hire 120 police officers over a 15 month period.

“Our city has grown to an estimated 542,000, but the number of police officers remains at 838. With 60 vacancies and 88 officers on long term absences, I actually have 690 officers working,” he said. 

 

Fresno’s Fire Chief Kerri Donis said the same of her department. Fires in the city of Fresno have increased by 61 percent from 2018 to 2020. The budget proposes hiring 42 more firefighters.

 

“The fire department in Fresno has the same number of staffing today as it did in 1980, with half the population back then and half the call volume that we run today,” she said. 

 

The budget also addresses homelessness initiatives. It establishes the new Homeless Assistance Response Team (HART), composed of contracted outreach workers from community based organizations who will be in contact with the homeless population. 

 

Deputy Mayor Matthew Grundy said the goal is to move Fresno police officers away from being the first responders, and make homelessness response calls more personal.

 

“We want to know the names and locations of every unsheltered homeless person in our city,” Grundy said.

 

In addition to homelessness outreach, the budget calls for the purchase of additional motels and transitional housing using a combination of local, state and federal funding sources. 

 

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Public Works Director, Scott Mozier speaks at budget presentation.

Neighborhood infrastructure also plays a large role in the FY22 budget with Beautify Fresno addressing curb appeal. The budget includes $12 million in street repair projects and $3 million in repairs of curbs, gutters and sidewalks. 

There are also federal and state transportation grants totaling $94 million in traffic flow improvements and $36 million in transportation projects, like trails. Executing these projects will result in the hire of 14 new positions in public works. 

Another highlight of the budget allocates $1.9 million to partially fund a new citywide senior center. The money will fund the center’s design, but will require several other funding sources to build it. 

In addition to an increase in projected revenue, the city has already received $85 million from the American Rescue Plan. About $30 million from Measure P will come later this year.