FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer voiced his support in an interview with the Washington Post for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan – while also revealing a projected $31 million budget shortfall.
Eyewitness News spoke with Dyer on Monday, in which he urged leaders in Washington D.C. to put their politics aside because cities like Fresno desperately need the assistance.
“These types of relief plans that benefit local governments get tied up in the partisan politics, and I think it’s important for our elected officials in Washington to understand the impact that is being felt at the local level,” Dyer said. “The people who are out there standing in food lines. The folks that are out there on our streets that are homeless. The fact that local governments are having to hold vacancies.”
The Washington Post article outlines that Fresno is “being forced to consider laying off 250 people, including police and firefighters, to close a $31 million budget shortfall.”
Dyer said the city recently looked at the revenue numbers and expenditures and the city is projected to be $31 million short in its Fiscal Year 2022 budget.
He added that the they’ve held about 300 positions vacant in Fresno.
“There’s always that potential in local government that we either have to continue to hold vacancies or to lay people off,” he said.
Dyer said that over two-thirds of the city’s budget is related to the Fresno Police Department and Fresno Fire.
“When you recognize that’s where the vast majority of our expenditures are, if we need to cut expenditures, that’s where it ultimately ends up happening,” he said.
Fresno Police Officers’ Association President Brandon Wiemiller earlier in the month expressed his concern over the understaffing the police department is facing, adding that he believes it’s leading to the rise in crime and slower response times.
Dyer is also concerned about the rise in violent crime in the city.
“We were at about a 20-year low in violent crime and then all of a sudden, we’re at about a 25-year high in violent crime,” Dyer said.
Dyer said the COVID-19 relief package would allow Fresno to:
- Solidify its budget
- Provide assistance for businesses
- Help residents who are experiencing food insecurity
- Provide housing and services to the homeless population
- Ensure public safety
“Oftentimes the bickering in Washington D.C. results in people not being served at local jurisdictions, so it’s so important they come together, reach across the aisle and not allow this partisan politics to prevent us from serving our communities locally,” Dyer said.
He added that he’s optimistic that the federal government will come forward with a COVID-19 relief plan that will allow the city to avoid having to make those layoffs.
“We do know $31 million is real if we don’t get some form of assistance from the federal government.”