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Council Passes Budget, Evades Domestic Violence Program Cuts

Photo: Mary Tuma, License: N/A

Mary Tuma

Soules remained unconvinced. The charge, he said flatly is, “nothing more than a tax increase masquerading as a fee.” The City is missing an opportunity to get the budget on track, said Soules. “I don’t think it sets the City on right path and I am not going to be able to support it.” The fiscal conservatives took issue with the fee falling on taxpayers. Soules, not exactly ignoring parks concerns, offered up cutting the streetcar project, slashing executive salaries and charging higher prices for properties the City is renting out for cheap.

“We have to make tough choices and I don’t want to get caught in a game of kick the can … This park fee is going to be a concern,” said Nirenberg, before asking for the fee to be separated from the budget vote.

Budget Director Maria Villagómez dispels those concerns, telling the Current the fee strategy arose as a direct result of the priorities explicitly expressed by city council and the community at large during budget hearings—the consensus indicated they didn’t want to see taxes raised or a reduction in public safety.

In the end, all three voted down the fee (unsuccessfully) and the budget eventually sailed through a majority. The final adopted budget won’t be available for another three weeks, but here’s a preview from the proposed plan:

Off the chopping block and reinstated:
• 10 of 20 civilian counselor positions with the police department’s Crisis Response Team
• Park renovation funds
• Outdoor swimming pool availability, which was to be reduced at certain locations from Monday-Thursday
• Library hours were to be cut from 56 to 48 hours weekly (either Friday or Sunday)

Other highlights:
• Senior centers see a $1.5 million expansion in District 2, District 6 and District 7
• Continues $54 million in funding for Infrastructure Management Program (IMP) including $8.5 million allocated for sidewalks; a $2 million increase.
• Adds $1.2 million for resources to fund HemisFair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation (HPARC) Office
• $1.25 million in neighborhood initiatives, such as the Neighborhood Revitalization (REnewSA)
• Animal Care Services sees an increase of $224,400 plus another $100,000 via an amendment for spay/neuter services and/or intake capacity.

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