San Jose Residents to Weigh In on Mayor’s Proposed Budget

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo released his proposed 2017-18 budget earlier this spring. Now it’s time for the public to weigh in.

The first of four community meetings on the spending plan takes place Monday, with three more set for May 17, 18 and the 22 in different parts of the city. Feedback from those meetings will help the city fine-tune its $3 billion annual budget, which comes up for a final vote toward the end of June.

Liccardo’s cautiously optimistic outline projects a $12.4 million gap in the coming year that will need to be bridged with new revenue or spending cuts. Looking out to 2022, that projection grows to $88.9 million. That’s despite two new tax measures approved by voters in 2016 for transportation upgrades and essential city services.

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Those figures don’t even account for the city’s $3.8 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $1.5 billion in deferred infrastructure maintenance. Liccardo has pointed out that San Francisco, Oakland and other big cities face similar challenges.

Driving the deficit in San Jose, according to the mayor, are growing pension costs and declining revenue from sales and construction taxes. However, the mayor’s projects do not account for the impending sales of the Hayes Mansion, a $36 million judgment against the federal government or savings from bond refinancing.

Liccardo pointed to important milestones in the past year, which helped the city climb out of a protracted recovery from the Great Recession. Voters approved Measure F, which replaced the city’s pension framework and will save an estimated $42 million a year. The city also allocated more money to reduce emergency response times, shelter the homeless and repave old roads.

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The mayor notes that his latest spending blueprint will continue to prioritize what residents say are their highest priorities: public safety, long-term financial stability, housing the homeless and repairing roads. Here’s a cursory look at some of Liccardo’s ideas, which will ultimately come to a vote by the City Council.

  • Hire more police. A pay bump and the Measure F pension settlement have already helped recruiting efforts. After years of grappling with a shortfall of officers, the San Jose Police Department is working on rebuilding its ranks.
  • Prep for disasters. The city’s alarming response—or lack thereof—to the Coyote Creek flood this year prompted the mayor to include plans to fund a new warning system, volunteer training and recovery efforts.
  • #BeautifySJ. Drawing on an idea brought by residents, city officials aim to bolster a recently launched program that leverages volunteers, technology and offers grants to eliminate blight.
  • Revitalized roadways. Since every $1 invested in preventive road repairs saves up to $5 in future fixes, the mayor says, he wants to increase the street pavement allocation to $50 million. That should cover about 200 miles of road in the coming year.
  • Fill vacant positions. The mayor wants the city to fill 850 unstaffed positions as quickly as possible, which might be tricky with budget deficits on the horizon. But, he said, building up staffing capacity is ”the most immediate way to improve service delivery.”

To read the mayor’s entire budget plan, click here. Be sure to take a look at the five-year forecast on which he based his projections and the city’s proposed capital budget—found here and here, respectively. Times and locations for the upcoming community budget meetings are posted below.

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9 Comments

  1. A $12 million deficit PLUS $5.3 Billion in unfunded pension costs and deferred maintenance. I guess that’s what they mean when they say close enough for government work. What a disgrace.

    • All of this accounting shorthand is confusing. Why don’t they explain this in real numbers:

      — Unfunded pension costs and deferred maintenance: $5,300,000,000.00
      — Operating deficit: $12,000,000.00

      — Money we don’t got: $5,312,000,000.00

      Seems like a lot.

      How did we get into this situation. I don’t recall having $5,312,000,000.00 worth of fun.

    • The article says the City has $3B/year to spend.

      It’s a spending problem- politicians like Lie-hard-oh spend 1/3 of the budget on Redevelopment. Another 1/3 on the Airport. The final third is the General Fund, where we spend millions on the homeless and subsidizing those that don’t make enough to live in the Bay Area or pay a “fair share” of taxes.

      So a liability of only double the yearly income is not bad… Most fiscally responsible taxpayers likely owe 5X their annual income in a mortgage alone… of course, they don’t squander 2/3’s of their budget like Reed and Slick Sammy either. Perspective my friend.

  2. > a $36 million judgment against the federal government

    What is this?

    What did Obama do to San Jose, that justifies this “judgment”?

  3. Housing the homeless is not a priority. Neither is support of illegal aliens. Cut these immediately so that taxpayers see value in those they’ve trusted to govern.

  4. It always warms my heart to see such bloodsucking conservative trolls come out of the woodwork with their narrow-minded and ignorant opinions, yet they have no history of ever contributing to our community. Here is an idea – why don’t you volunteer your time to make San Jose a better place? Or better yet, run for office! My liberal friends and I are volunteering and running for office. We are making San Jose Great Again. I can’t wait to knock on your door to see where trolls live.

    • 45 years worth of property taxes gone to feed liberal parasites, illegal aliens, street gangs, while our roads and bridge are sacrificed to the obsolete gods of the rail. It’s so nice to see the ivory towers the weed smoking bureaucrats are kept high and dry in while the taxpayers are rescued by millionaire firemen and cops.
      Don’t forget your wadders and a crash helmet leach, I’ll drop kick you back to where you belong!

    • How about house many families, former homeless vets, and DV victims in clean, safe, and convenient apartments at much lower than the market rents bandied around on this blog? Volunteering and running for office is nice virtue signaling, but at the end of the day when the cameras are gone and your one day doing H4H, people need a roof to sleep under, and that roof is expensive. Get some skin in the game and then come pass judgement. Just because your time is cheap doesn’t mean you’ve got more at stake or better than the rest of us. Actually, I would venture you have done less for San Jose than most of us trolls.

      There is nothing wrong with conservative thought, much of the tech industry was born around the idea of individuation and freedom to create. There is nothing bloodsucking about it either. It just assumes that we are equal under the law, each with agency over their own life and that the role of the state is to protect that agency, not dilute it with paternalistic, coerced altruism. To take away peoples agency is to take away there humanity. Good luck to those that listen to you and turn over their will and their families future to your ill-informed ideology. Maybe you should read up a little more on the 20th century on the comparative advantages of liberty/conservatism before you start with ad hominem attacks.

      To run on conservative values in the middle of the hypocritical, collective blob that is San Jose is as useful as talking to a wall as evidenced by your post, the articles in SJI and Mercury News, and the San Jose City Council.

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