Fresno · Highlight

Brand presents $1.187bil budget, eyeing “fair share” among priorities

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand on Wednesday unveiled a proposed $1.187 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2020 that is long on common sense and short on melodrama.

Public safety, parks, the city’s infrastructure and the general fund reserve all are getting what the Mayor sees as their fair share.

No one in the Administration, near as I can tell, is proposing the shortchanging of vast swaths of city services in order to stem an alleged crisis in a particular department.

Said Brand in a written statement: “This budget represents our continued strategy to use a sensible and balanced approach – to make our City a better and safer place to live, work, raise our children and enjoy life. That’s why we are focused every day on creating an economy that works for everyone to transform our narrative from poverty to prosperity with the goal of improving the quality of life for everyone in Fresno.”

Added City Manager Wilma Quan: “These investments clearly show our continued commitment to the Mayor’s key initiatives of economic prosperity, quality of life and public safety – while maintaining the fiscal prudence that has earned Fresno the reputation of being one of the best-run cities in America.”

Here are eight highlights from the budget:

1.) The replacement of 71 police vehicles. This continues the process of replacing the city’s aging fleet and the upgrading of the city’s equipment.

2.) Funding for construction of Fire Station 18 and a new nine-person company in the Metro area. Fire Station 18, located west of Highway 99 in what is sometimes called the West Growth Area, has needed a new and up-to-date home for years. The new nine-person company would increase minimum daily staffing to 80.

3.) A Parks Department budget that grows 4.6% compared to last year. There would be a new BMX park, tot lots at Tupman, Dickey and JSK parks and a new Challenger Course at Romain Park.

4.) There would be new restroom facilities and field lights at Hinton Park. The Maxie L. Parks Urban Forest would be completed.

5.) Fresnans would see 74 lane miles of road get paved. The project to change 38,000 street lights to energy-saving LED fixtures would be completed. This change is expected to save Fresno taxpayers $1.6 million a year.

6.) The completion of $3.1 million in tree-damaged concrete repairs to sidewalks. There also is $1.1 million for the Olive Avenue Tower District project to address deferred pavement maintenance and provide a more pedestrian-friendly district.

7.) There is more than $3.6 million for projects west of Highway 99, including money to start construction of the Midtown Train and matching funds for the city’s Transformative Climate Communities program.

8.) The general fund reserve by the end of June 30, 2020 (the end of the upcoming fiscal year) is expected to be $34 million. Administration officials say that’s the highest general fund reserve in the city’s history. They also say such a reserve, being 10% of a projected $346 million general fund, pretty much achieves a long-cherished City Hall goal.

Brand will present his proposed budget to the City Council on June 3.

Then come budget hearings.

George Hostetter
George Hostetter is The Sun’s Fresno Civic contributor – covering the City of Fresno, County of Fresno, and Fresno Council of Governments.