Fresno · Highlight

Fresno’s budget battle begins. Here are 13 things to watch out for.

Hearings on Mayor Lee Brand’s proposed 2019-2020 budget begin on Monday, June 3. They will continue into next week. Parks, Police and Fire are up to bat on June 3.

Fresno City Hall will spend close to $1.2 billion in the fiscal year beginning July 1. That’s a lot of moola. I skimmed through the Mayor’s budget. Here are a Baker’s Dozen of interesting spending proposals from Team Brand: 

1.) PARKING DIVISION: “$395,000 for an anticipated implementation of Smart Parking Meters in Downtown Fresno. Included in the amount is the projected lease payment for the acquisition of the smart meters, installation and operational costs.”

2.) COMMUNITY SANITATION: “It should be noted that after FY 2020, there will no longer be sufficient revenue to cover the costs of various Public Works programs. This is primarily due to decreased carryover caused by the need to replace aging equipment in Street Sweeping, Tree Trimming and Median Island Maintenance as well as the legal restriction of a fixed service rate established per voter approval of Proposition 218. The Department plans to research the possibility of seeking a rate increase through the Proposition 218 process.”

3.) OFFICE of the MAYOR and CITY MANAGER: “Two positions added in FY 2019 to oversee and implement the medical cannabis regulations have been carried over in FY 2020. Both positions currently are defunded and will remain defunded until an implementation plan has been established and presented to Council for approval.”

4.) OFFICE of the MAYOR and CITY MANAGER: “Additional appropriations totaling $2,700 have been added in the Office of Independent Review to attend the annual National Association of Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement conference in Detroit, MI.” (My note: The 25th annual NACOLE Conference is Sept. 22-26. NACOLE, according to its website, “is a non-profit organization that brings together individuals and agencies working to establish or improve oversight of police officers in the United States. NACOLE welcomes people and organizations committed to fair and professional law enforcement that is responsive to community needs.”

5.) CITY COUNCIL: “A total of $350,000 (in discretionary funding) has been budgeted in FY 2020 with $50,000 allocated to each Council District’s operating budget. This funding is for discretionary purposes and is at the sole discretion of the Council Offices.” (My note: This used to be called “infrastructure” money. Then the Council over the years decided that people are “infrastructure” too.)

6.) GRANITE PARK: “Funding for the contract with Central Valley Community Sports Foundation is budgeted at $150,000 and scheduled for payment February 2020. This contract received Council approval on September 15, 2015.”

7.) PARADES: “A total of $50,000 has been budgeted in the Department’s appropriations to help support historic parade sponsors by offsetting part of the costs related to traffic control for these events.”

8.) FOOD EXPO: “A total of $62,500 has been budgeted … for the continued support and sponsorship of the Fresno Food Expo. The Fresno Food Expo, renamed the California Food Expo in an effort to expand the footprint beyond the Central Valley, is now in its ninth year. The Expo has introduced over 400 food industry companies to over 3,300 retail and foodservice buyers, and has positioned the City of Fresno as the food industry leader in our region and state with seventy-three percent of participating food companies reporting an increase in sales because of the Expo.”

9.) ANIMAL CONTROL: “FY 2020 appropriations have been increased to fund Animal Control services and operations. The FY 2020 Budget includes a total of $4,234,000.”

10.) PARKS: “$70,000 for the maintenance and operation of the Len Ross Center approved by Council in FY 2019.” (My note: The Len Ross Junior Golf Learning Center is on South Teilman Avenue in Southwest Fresno. The Center’s mission is to teach youngsters from diverse backgrounds the joys and duties of golf.)

11.) PARKS: “$138,200 for the Bike Pedestrian Safety Training Program made possible by a grant from the Office of Traffic Safety and Active Transportation Program intended to reduce the number of persons killed and injured in crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclist. The Program will serve school age children and older adults via classroom education, bike rodeos, community events, presentations and workshops.”

12.) CONVENIENCE CENTER: “In an effort to reduce illegal dumping and meet changing Solid Waste Program requirements the Convenience Center is anticipated to begin operation in the Fall of 2019. This Program will provide a venue for residential customers to dump residential bulky materials at low to no cost…. All (employee) positions have been budgeted with an October 1, 2019 start date. Total staffing costs for the new crew in FY 2020 will be $92,300.” (My note: This program is a potential game-changer when it comes to Fresno’s quality of life.)

13.) PROGRAM COMPLIANCE: “Two (2) Program Compliance Officers are included to augment program compliance. The positions will be tasked with inspections and investigations related to illegal dumping, containers in-view, and material contamination. Both positions have been budgeted with an October 1, 2019 start date. Total staffing costs for these new positions is $103,000.” (My note: I wonder if “material contamination” means City Hall will take proactive steps to ensure recyclables aren’t placed in trash containers and trash isn’t placed in recyclable containers.)

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