On late Tuesday, Sacramento’s City Council voted on the fiscal year budget for 2015-2016. The approved plan will increase spending on law enforcement and firefighters, as well as recreational areas. This increased spending will be based, in part, on an increased revenue stemming from the temporary increase in city tax (which is set to expire in 2019).
Of the nine members of council, three refused to offer their support to the budget, claiming that it did not include effective measures aimed at saving money. They also argued that the proposed plan had prioritized the wrong things.
This budget underwent a number of revisions since late April when city manager John Shirey first introduced it. However, Shirey did face criticism due to an alleged lack of transparency.
Sacramento’s fiscal budget revolves around increased spending on public safety and recreational areas as well as the restoration of city services. The spending plan will allow two different firehouses to be replaced. Additionally, it also includes sums set aside to encourage residential development, homeless services, law enforcement diversification and recreational area upgrades.
Mayor Kevin Johnson was criticized for this budget, especially since it includes five new positions in his staff. Opponents of this measure argue that the mayor was not transparent enough when proposing a doubling of his staff. Johnson, opponents claim, did not correctly explain how these positions were added or how these new employees will serve the citizens of Sacramento.
According to City Councilman Steve Hansen, this budget (and especially the spending increase in Johnson’s staff) represents an unjustified shopping spree which the citizens of Sacramento will not be able to sustain. He argues that, in the long run, the city is setting itself up for huge deficits.
“I will not support an overall budget that will put us on an unsustainable path. We can do better than this.”
In total, Mayor Johnson’s staff will now reach 12 positions and represent an increase of approximately $700,000 in spending.
Despite this criticism, the mayor is convinced that the proposed budget has been constructed in a fiscally responsible fashion and that it ensures a surplus for a second consecutive year. He is convinced that Sacramento is currently in a much stronger fiscal position as opposed to previous years.
Apart from the program involving body cameras and equipping Sacramento’s police officers with such technology, the council also approved a measure which grants $6.9 million to be used for additional staffing, adding fire trucks and ambulances for Natomas as well as establishing a gang-prevention task force.
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