What's at stake:
The city council budget subcommittee met with Mayor Jerry Dyer's administration over the last week to reconile dozens of budget motions with Dyer's proposed budget.
The Fresno City Council on Thursday unanimously approved a record-breaking $1.87 billion budget, making significant new investments in police staffing and park and street improvements.
The vote came after councilmembers put forth more than 120 budget motions, of which 78 were partially or entirely funded in the 2024 adopted budget. Those modifications make room for everything from street repairs and new evening code enforcement teams to grants for small businesses and continuing the city’s eviction protection program.
City Council President Tyler Maxwell and Dyer both credited the work of the city council’s budget subcommittee in meeting with the mayor’s administration to modify his budget proposal and make room for councilmembers’ budget requests.
The budget subcommittee, composed of Maxwell, Council Vice President Annalisa Perea and Councilmember Mike Karbassi, met several times over the last week, but their meetings were not made public.
Here are some of the top city council proposals that made it into this year’s budget.
- $6.97 million – Repaving and repairing street infrastructure
- $2 million – Continuing funding for Fresno’s Eviction Protection Program
- $1.78 million – Constructing/converting park spaces into pickleball courts
- $569,000 – Evening Code Enforcement Team
- $500,000 – No fare on FAX buses for seniors, people with a disability, Medicare card holders, and children under 13
- $100,000 – Small business grants for security cameras
- $100,000 – Grant program for local LGBTQ+ nonprofit organizations
- LGBTQ+ Liaison under the Community Affairs Team
“This is the third year in a row we have had a unanimous vote for our budget, which I believe speaks to the level of cooperation and collaboration between the administration and our city council,” Dyer said at a news conference Thursday following the budget vote. “We differ at times but when it comes down to the important things, we agree.”
The need for infrastructure repairs took center stage during the budget process after Councilmembers Miguel Arias, Luis Chavez and Nelson Esparza, who all represent South Fresno residents, held a June 1 news conference to declare Dyer’s proposed budget “dead on arrival.”
The three councilmembers in total introduced 10 motions to repave streets in South Fresno. Only one made it into the adopted budget. North Fresno Councilmembers Karbassi and Gary Bredefeld introduced two motions to repave streets in their districts too, both of which made it into the adopted budget.
Of the $6.97 million in street repaving motions that made it into the budget, about $1.7 million fixes North Fresno streets. About $1 million in fixes to South Fresno streets in Arias’ district also made it into the budget.
Securing funding to fix streets has posed an ongoing obstacle for the city.
“We have a shortage of dedicated and sustained funding for infrastructure in this city,” Dyer said Thursday at the news conference. “That is our roads, our sidewalks, our curbs and our gutters. In fact, we are about $1.2 billion behind when you add all of those infrastructure needs up in our city.”
Many of the elements in Dyer’s proposed budget made it into the adopted budget. That includes millions to expand the police budget, which would help fund 900 police officer positions, a record-high, and 25 more than last year’s adopted budget. As of June 5, the Fresno Police Department had 845 sworn police officers.
The adopted budget also includes a trash rate increase, although it would need to be approved by Fresno residents. Dyer noted several areas of need within the city’s Department of Utilities, including vacancies that need to be filled, deferred maintenance of trucks and delayed ordering of new equipment.
While he did not share how much a trash rate increase will be, that information will be released to the public over the next few months.
Each councilmember expressed overall satisfaction with what came out of the council budget subcommittee’s reconciliation process and none of them sparred over any specific funding matters.
“It is a celebration for us that have been through this meat grinder,” Dyer said. “There was a lot of sausage being made in the back room over the last week.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the amount of funding for street repairs from council motions. The correct total is $6.97 million.