More police and — maybe — money for Advance Peace. Inside Fresno’s $1.7 billion budget

JOHN WALKER/jwalker@fresnobee.com
·2 min read

The Fresno City Council and Mayor Jerry Dyer’s administration will spend the next week reconciling the council’s 92 proposed changes to Dyer’s proposed budget before the final budget vote on June 30.

The City Council on Thursday unanimously approved their 92 budget motions for changes ranging from feel-good park upgrades such as adding new pickle ball courts to more controversial items such as hammering out a funding agreement for the gun prevention program Advance Peace.

“I don’t want to jinx it, but I think we might be on our way to getting a 7-0 vote next Thursday, depending on how this thing completely unfolds,” Council President Nelson Esparza joked after the vote.

The proposed $1.7 billion city budget for the fiscal year 2022-23 is flush with cash thanks to state and federal coronavirus aid and higher-than-expected tax revenue.

“There is no shortage of money. I don’t care what anyone says up here,” Councilmember Esmeralda Soria said on Monday while speaking about Advance Peace.

She noted that this is her last budget cycle on the City Council and the most revenue the city has had to work with in the eight years in her seat.

“I get it, we have to be smart about the dollars and how we spend them. But there’s no shortage of resources,” she said.

Dyer’s proposed budget focused on boosting staffing in the police and fire departments. The additions, if approved, would bring the number of police officers to an all-time high. The City Council generally supported the staffing increases.

Many of the City Council’s proposed changes are for the Parks, Afterschool, Recreation and Community Services (PARCS) department. They include buying property to build new parks, upgrades to current parks, working to use flood control basins as parks where appropriate, and waiving parking fees at regional parks.

The councilmembers also proposed a number of tenant protections, such as money for eviction protection and tenant relocation funds. The City Council also proposed creating a new housing and development department.

The City Council must pass a balanced budget by June 30.