FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – On Wednesday, Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer unveiled a $1.7 billion budget proposal and it includes dozens of added firefighter and police officer positions.
The biggest priorities include homeless, housing, and public safety.
If the proposal goes through, Fresno would have the highest number of police officers in the city’s history.
“I want the message to be for the city of Fresno, that we understand your needs and demands and we are doing everything that we can to meet those needs and demands,” Dyer said.
If the proposal is approved the city would fund 37 new police officer positions increasing the department from 851 to 888. These officers include those as part of the Metro Bike Unit downtown, Street Racing Team, and FAX buses.
Last year Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama scaled back the School Resource Officers at the middle schools due to the understaffed department, but Balderrama said that those positions will be back at Fresno Unified and Central Unified.
“I cannot think of a more significant responsibility than keeping our kids safe thank you again to the Mayor and City Manager for addressing our needs and we are on the right path,” said Balderrama.
The budget creates a park ranger team made up of 20 officers that would patrol parks 24/7. There would also be a new Mental Health Triage program for mental health calls and a new 911 center.
Dyer’s proposal gained praise from Fire Chief Kerri Donis for the addition of 24 firefighters, a 4th medical team, and new equipment for the department.
“You know the Mayor and the City Manager kept their foot on the throttle or gas again this year with the budget,” said Donis.
On the housing front, Dyer proposes $40 million from Congresses American Rescue Plan to be used for affordable housing.
“This is the largest investment in housing history in Fresno,” said Dyer.
Dyer said that money would go towards the housing strategy including tiny homes and other projects.
The proposal creates a free trolley service in the city, around $3 million to Chukchansi Park, beautification projects, and infrastructure improvements.
Measure P, which is a sales tax that is meant to bring in revenue for parks and the arts, was expected to bring in around $33-35 million annually. Dyer said because of the higher sales tax revenues it is now expected to bring in around $58 million. This will allow the city to get projects done faster than anticipated.
The budget does include $40 million in reserve. Dyer will bring this proposal before the council tomorrow but it doesn’t need to be adopted until June 30.