Affirming his stances on his key issues, Fresno Mayor Lee Brand pulled back the curtain on his final budget proposals and priorities Wednesday with the announcement of the FY2020 budget. It comes days after he announced he wouldn’t be seeking a second term as mayor.
Before the announcement, Brand was all smiles, eagerly shaking hands with his staff — for good reason.
The FY2020 budget has gone up nearly 4% to $1.187 billion, which is a $41 million increase from FY2019. There will also a record $34 million in the reserve fund by the end of this year. Another achievement Brand and his staff announced was core city services staffing is now at pre-recession level.
However, to be able to expand core services and meet current needs is still a problem.
“For us to say, add a million dollars more,$5 million, or $10 million — the question is where do I take it out of? Every area we have at the city needs additional help, so, that’s our challenge,” Brand said.
Bringing in companies, like Amazon and Ulta, has been one of Brand’s fixes for this issue. It’s not only helped create thousands of jobs — one of his main issues when campaigning for mayor — but also creating new taxes for the city to collect.
Brand said, even with legal challenges like the one over the industrial area in south Fresno, he’s ready to work through the issues to develop the city.
“We need to fundamentally change our economy here, build up a bigger base for property taxes, sales taxes and so on,” Brand said. “That’s goign to take time. I can’t do it overnight.”
Public safety, another priority for Brand, saw improvements for the police and fire departments in the new budget. 71 police vehicles are being replaced and funds have been secured to build a new fire station for a new nine-person company.
However, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said his department is still down 14 bodies.
“We need to add back our community service officers who can go out there and handles some of those lower level reports,” said Dyer “We need additional police officers out there on bicycles, everyone wants that.”
A big change is the Development and Resource Management Department is splitting into the Planning and Development Department and the Neighborhood Services Department.
Fresno City Council will begin discussing the budget on June 3 and, per the city charter, have to adopt a new budget by June 30.
To see the new budget for yourself, you can click here.