Council’s Work on Budget Picks up Pace; Here’s How to Stay Informed, Speak Out

Read the Budget in Brief
Watch the budget study sessions on the Internet
View Slide Presentations for Budget Study Sessions

For the first time in a decade, San Jose is working on a budget that doesn’t have a huge gap to fill. But it doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room either.

The San Jose City Council held its first study session on thebudget on Wednesday, May 9, with the relief that it won’t face the massive layoffs of last year but the realization that there likely will be a deficit next year driven by increases in employee retirement costs.

“We continue to face significant financial challenges,” said City Manager Deb Figone. “This proposed budget allow us to set aside funds ($22 million) to help us deal with the shortfall we project the year after next, and our current reduced service levels clearly fall short of council and community expectations.

Mayor Chuck Reed called the projected $9 million surplus a “1 percent cushion” that will allow new libraries and a community center to open, 400 miles of roads to be repaired and $2 million more to be spent on gang prevention programs.

But also facing budget makers in the future is $2.9 billion in unfunded liabilities in the employee retirement system, a $100 million a year backlog or road and building repairs, $30 million a year needed to restore service cuts to the levels of January 1, and $20 million in health care costs for retirees.

Also in play could be a November ballot initiative that would amend the city charter to expand funding for libraries. Signatures are being gathered for the measure, which, if approved, would require cuts in other areas to rebalance the proposed budget, according to a city analysis.

Monday’s session provided an overview of the budget and a report on community and economic development. The sessions will begin again at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 10, and continue through May 17. The Neighborhood Services area is scheduled for discussion from 1:30 to 3:30 on Thursday, May 10.

The sessions are held in the City Council Chambers in the City Hall Wing, 200 East Santa Clara Street. They also are broadcast live on Comcast Cable Channel 26 or can be live streamed through the Internet. Videos of meetings are also archived on the Civic Center San Jose Television web page.

Two pubic hearings are scheduled in the evening on May 15 and June 11. Mayor Chuck Reed will his June budget message, on June 1, which takes into consideration input from the public, city managers and council members. The council will vote on the June budget message on June 12, and on the budget on June 19.

The city council approved the mayor’s first budget message in March, which called for opening four new libraries and a community center, fixing roads and restoring funds for gang prevention programs. The City Manager’s budget message and the proposedoperating budget and capital budget have been released and are posted online.

Community budget meetings, which began on April 10, will continue through May 24. Five are scheduled in May:

Wednesday, May 9
District 8, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., LeyVa Middle School, 1865 Monrovia Drive.

Thursday, May 10
District 5, 6 to 8 p.m., Mayfair Community Center Kammerer Avenue.

Wednesday, May 16
District 4, 6:30 8:30 p.m., Berryessa Branch Library, 3355 Noble Avenue.

Thursday, May 17
District 1, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Archbishop Mitty High School, 5000 Mitty Way

Thursday, May 24
District 6, 6 to 8 p.m., Willow Glen Community Center, 2175 Lincoln Avenue.