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Council Asked to 'Immediately Halt' Plan to Boost Safety Spending


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By Jorge Casuso

July 8, 2024 -- Ten days after the City Council voted to boost public safety spending minutes before adopting a $765.3 million fiscal year budget, it could vote Tuesday to almost as quickly drop the plan.

Councilmember Lana Negrete placed an item on the agenda directing the City Manager "to immediately halt the process" to allocate as much as $3.8 million to address public safety in the budget that kicked in July 1.

The money would have been generated by finding ways to reallocate funding without cutting personnel ("Council Adopts Budget With Added Public Safety Spending," July 1, 2024).

"The City Council was thoughtful and cautious in adopting a balanced budget," wrote Negrete, referring to the a budget that was months in the making .

"However, the City faces a difficult economic climate, slow recovery, a challenging labor market, required deferred maintenance, and continued uncertainty in our legal liabilities."

Instead of reallocating existing resources, the Council "must pursue new revenue opportunities to address our public safety needs," Negrete said.

Negrete's item directs City Manager David White to "provide a high-level overview of potential impacts to the organization, along with programs and services, if budget reallocations were to be implemented without additional revenue."

White also should bring back the Parking Facility Tax rejected by the Council on June 25 that would increase the rate by 8 percent for non-City owned lots and structures.

The measure -- which staff estimates would generate approximately $6.7 million a year -- was rejected on a 4 to 3 vote by the Council's Change majority, which includes Negrete.

While the tax measure included an undisclosed amount for "enhancing public safety," the version the Council would take up later this month indicates that "half of the additional revenue" would go towards public safety.

Negrete's item retains last month's Council's direction for the City Manager to return no later than September with a study session item that includes proposals to enhance public safety and address homelessness.

The study session would provide the Council "with critical information to deploy resources" generated by the proposed Parking Facility Tax.

Negrete said her item "bridges" Mayor Phil Brock's proposal to reallocate a portion of the City budget for public safety and Councilmember Jesse Zwick's parking tax measure.

"The public needs to understand that the City has not recovered (from) the pandemic and resources are limited," Negrete wrote.

"For this reason, the City Council must pursue new revenue opportunities to address our public safety needs. Keeping our community safe is our first priority."

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