The Fresno City Council approved a $1.2 billion budget Thursday, but Mayor Lee Brand said he still might use his veto pen.

Photo of GV Wire's David Taub

David Taub

Politics 101

In their eyes, council members got around being over budget by delaying some items, rescheduling them for the mid-year budget review in January. Those include spending on a community building in the El Dorado neighborhood near Fresno State, along with paving alleys (in District 4, represented by Paul Caprioglio), and a paving project at Fountain Way and Cedar (also in District 4).

That came close to satisfying Brand.

“I am proud of the work the council and I have done to create a city budget that thoughtfully addresses the issues of importance to the people of Fresno,” the mayor said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “Police and fire are well provided for, as are our parks, streets, planning and development, public utilities, airports, and all of the other functions we are charged to oversee.

“There are a few remaining differences and it is very likely I will use the mayor’s line-item veto authority to reduce spending to balance the budget and preserve our general fund reserve account.  The Council and I agree on over 99% of what is in the budget and I am confident we will be at 100% in the near future.”

Budget Passes with Five Votes

By rule, the budget needs a supermajority to pass, and it received the five votes it needed. Only councilman Garry Bredefeld opposed. He criticized the spending plan for failing to add new police officers or 911 dispatchers. He said the council should be “ashamed of ourselves. … It’s baloney. A bunch of crap.”

Bredefeld also opposed some of the more controversial spending items: $200,000 for the Advance Peace anti-violence initiative, $300,000 for the new immigration affairs committee, and $100,000 for a youth leadership committee.

“All three are a complete waste of money,” Bredefeld said.

Ultimately, the council voted to wait on the Advance Peace initiative for 90 days to allow more study.

The council also banked on paying for some projects with revenues that will be higher than Brand’s estimates. One of those projects is a senior center in District 4.

Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria proposed adding $250,000 for census outreach, which the council approved 5-1.

Garcia Resigns as Planning Commissioner

Portrait of Lawrence Garcia

Lawrence Garcia

Lawrence Garcia gave up his post as a Fresno planning commissioner to focus running for the city council.

The mayor appoints the seven-member commission, which acts as a quasi-legislative body to get a first vote on a variety of land-use issues. Ashley Swearengin appointed Garcia to the post in 2014. Lee Brand reappointed him in 2018.

Garcia is one of five active candidates for the District 2 seat. Currently vacant, voters will weigh in Aug. 13, with a possible Nov. 5 runoff.

Karbassi Picks Up Endorsements

Mike Karbassi entered Wednesday’s GV Wire forum for the Fresno city council District 2 special election with two key endorsements. This week, the Fresno Chamber of Commerce and the Fresno Police Officers Association backed Karbassi.

While both can be important, they don’t necessarily pick the winners. In the 2018 council election, Miguel Arias and Nelson Esparza won despite the chamber and FPOA endorsing their opponents.

But with the support comes financial help. FPOA contributed $9,300 to Karbassi this past week.

Fresno Young Democrats, State Treasurer Endorse Janz

Fresno mayoral hopeful Andrew Janz scored two endorsements this week — state treasurer Fiona Ma, and the Fresno County Young Democrats.

“Andrew’s public service record and educational background make him the clear choice to be Fresno’s next mayor,” Ma said in a news release. “He will be a strong proponent of job creation and local economic development. I look forward to working with Andrew to create more housing and safe neighborhoods.”

Ma will be in Fresno on Friday to discuss the state’s debt limit and tax credit allocation (what else would a treasurer talk about?). That event begins at 9 a.m. at Fresno Legacy Commons (2255 S. Plumas Ave.).

FHA Opposes Fed Housing Immigrant Rules

The governing board of the Fresno Housing Authority voted Tuesday to send a letter to the federal government opposing a housing policy it describes as “harmful.”

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development is considering rules that could charge higher rents to households on public assistance that include an illegal immigrant, according to the FHA staff report.

Staff estimates 1,400 children in Fresno County could lose housing assistance.

Nine commissioners voted in favor of sending the letter. Five of the 14 members were absent, including Terra Brusseau, who made controversial comments about a Clovis public housing project in March.

Haagenson Retiring

ABC 30 reporter Gene Haagenson (center) interviews Fresno police chief Jerry Dyer at City Hall in 2019. (GV Wire/David Taub)

ABC30 reporter Gene Haagenson is known for getting the scoop, especially at City Hall. But he missed one Thursday.

The city proclaimed the day in honor of Haagenson in a surprise ceremony. The veteran TV reporter retires July 5.

After 30 years, he told the council chamber he will transition to being a full-time grandpa.

He has been a reporter in the Fresno area for 30 years. I’ve covered stories with him at City Hall for the last few years, and he’s a top-notch, class act.

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