Wednesday’s Public Works Department budget hearing at the Fresno City Council turned into a debate on if the city is investing enough into south Fresno.
The discussion specifically centered on a pot of money spread between each district for street repair, which includes paving, curb repair, gutter repair and sidewalk repair.
The backstory: Mayor Jerry Dyer pitched his $1.85 billion budget to the City Council a couple weeks ago, yet three council members fired back at a press conference last week, declaring Dyer’s plan to be “dead on arrival.”
- Council members Miguel Arias, Luis Chavez and Nelson Esparza focused their pitch on roads, calling for more funding to fix neighborhood infrastructure in south Fresno.
Driving the news: The Public Works Department budget is proposed at $350.8 million and includes $52 million for street repair projects.
- District 6 and District 2 – Fresno’s northernmost council districts – are allotted $2.8 million and $3.7 million in the budget, respectively. On the other hand, Districts 1, 3 and 5 combine for over $30 million of the pot.
What they’re saying: Chavez praised the public works department and said he does not want the administration to think the conversation regarding investment in south Fresno to be adversarial.
- “I know you’re saying that you didn’t want it to be adversarial, but when we have three council members holding a press conference and we see headlines that say ‘Mayor’s budget DOA,’ and that you don’t feel that the mayor has appropriately allocated revitalization to south Fresno’s infrastructure…” City Manager Georgeanne White said “For somebody and an administration that has dedicated so much effort to trying to be equitable and in the spirit of One Fresno, that one hurt a little because we felt like you’re saying that we didn’t care about south Fresno, and I think our budget reflects that that’s not the case.”
- Arias chimed in, saying the majority of the funding going to District 3 comes from the state and federal government.
- Councilman Garry Bredefeld said it doesn’t seem very equitable for Districts 2 and 6 to receive far less than the south Fresno districts, yet he sees and supports the needs in south Fresno. He also said that he wants to continue to destroy the “false narrative” that south Fresno gets ignored.
- “We really should get away from this bogus narrative that this is a city that just focuses on the north and all the rich – everybody in north Fresno is just rich and the streets are paved with gold – because it’s a lie,” Bredefeld said.