A voter-approved tax hike will help San Jose hire more police officers, repair potholed streets and provide a much-needed stopgap for projected budget deficits over the next few years.
Measure B’s quarter-cent sales tax, which will generate $30 million in the year ahead because of a late start and $40 million annually after that, has been rolled into the city’s latest spending plan. The 2015-16 fiscal year proposal for how to allocate some $2.9 billion of the city's annual budget comes up for review at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Mayor Sam Liccardo’s March budget plan won unanimous council approval earlier this spring. Like the earlier iteration, this latest budget proposal calls for targeted one-time public safety expenditures while urging caution to prepare for future shortfalls.
Liccardo thanked voters for passing the sales tax measure, which will allow the city to restore services cut over the past several years.
“After years of belt-tightening through fiscal reforms and other cost-cutting measures, the voters agreed that additional revenues are needed to continue restoring essential city services,” the mayor wrote in a statement.“As we move towards adopting a final budget for the upcoming fiscal year, it’s critical that we focus these additional dollars on our residents’ top priorities: enhancing public safety and repairing our deteriorating roads.”
With this new tax revenue, which kicks in by October, the city can spend $17.7 million on basic street repair, the mayor said. Starting later next year, the city aims to hire 41 new sworn police officers, according to City Manager Norberto Dueñas, who outlined the tax-spending proposal in a separate document.
The San Jose Police Department may also be able to afford new crime analysts, according to Dueñas' plan, which suggests putting up $210,000 for five new staffers. Meanwhile, the city wants to invest $4.6 million to restore six staff positions in two San Jose Fire Department companies and pay for a new emergency alert system.
The June budget message recommends increasing the city’s budget reserves by another $1.3 million and allocating $1 million in one-time funds to calm traffic at dangerous intersections by deploying crossing guards, among other measures.
Liccardo suggested spending $130,000 on the Community Emergency Response Team, a crowd-sourced crisis response training for volunteers. With all the major events that have taken place in San Jose lately, the mayor also wants to spend $127,000 on a portable mass warning siren and speaker system and another $42,000 to test it.
Other proposals include funds to reduce the kill-rate at the city’s animal shelter, offer swim lessons for more of the city’s youth and study the impacts of gambling on the community.
Several allocations tackle homelessness, with $330,000 proposed to expand Downtown Streets Team—a nonprofit that gives jobs and job training to homeless people, among other services—to Monterey Road. Grace Community Center, which offers a broad range of services to homeless people, could stand to gain $150,000 from the city, and possibly another $68,000 to expand its shower facilities.
Additionally, Dueñas suggested spending $2 million of the new sales tax revenue on rapid-rehousing for the homeless.
“This spending plan represents an important step in restoring the services that our residents depend upon most,” Liccardo said. “However, given the uncertainty in future years, we must remain disciplined and prudent in all of our spending decisions.”
More from the San Jose City Council agenda for June 14, 2016:
WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260
This article has been updated.