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Give-and-Take Between Dyer & Council Yields a Fresno Budget. What's In It?
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 4 weeks ago on
June 20, 2024
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The Fresno City Council approved a $2 billion budget for 2024-25 on a 6-0 vote. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

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After the Fresno City Council approved a $2 billion budget for the next 12 months, Mayor Jerry Dyer pumped his fist in excitement.

“I think we all had to make some exceptions in terms of what we wanted.” — Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, after passage of a $2 billion budget for 2024-25 

“Another unanimous budget,” an elated Dyer said as he entered the lobby to take victory pictures with his department heads.

The 6-0 vote Thursday — Councilmember Miguel Arias missed the meeting — capped nearly three weeks of budget debates, in what was supposed to be a more transparent process.

And, in good news for local drivers, the pothole budget increased from $812,200 to $2,059,600.

Dyer said everyone got most of what they requested — even though the process started with a projected $47 million deficit.

“I think we all had to make some exceptions in terms of what we wanted,” Dyer told the media after the vote.

Dyer wanted a $1 million program to help businesses improve their façades. He cut it to $400,000.

City Council President Annalisa Perea patted herself on the back, noting that there were six different public comment periods. Some councilmembers also held community budget meetings.

Good government groups had sued the city earlier, claiming that prior budget practices — when a three-member budget committee met behind closed doors to hammer out the final spending plan — violated the state’s open meeting law, the Brown Act.

This year, the city council dropped the committee.

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer (front left) poses for a photo with department heads and other administration leaders. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Paring Down 110 Budget Motions

Dyer started the hearing listing the fate of 110 budget motions made last week. The motions added $27 million to the proposed budget. Some motions cited funding sources, usually by shifting around money form another project.

Dyer adopted 76 of the 110 motions — the remaining were either duplicates or rejected. That — plus new contracts that came in under budget— saved another $5.6 million. The result? A balanced budget as required by city law.

“We were able to balance this budget after all of the budget motions … because we we swapped a lot of projects,” Dyer said.

The mayor said he met privately one-on-one with councilmembers in the past week to discuss motions.

“There’s some other things in there that, quite frankly, we did not include from the onset because we knew at the beginning we were facing a significant budget shortfall,” Dyer said.

Still, through city council budget motions, some programs were spared.

What Requests Made It, Which Didn’t

The budget spends 51%, or $250 million, of the general fund on police. Dyer rejected a motion by councilmember Mike Karbassi to add a petty theft detective. Karbassi withdrew a $3.5 million motion for realigning Beechwood Avenue. However, the council adopted Karbassi’s motion to spend $70,000 on travel to sister cities.

In good news for local drivers, the pothole budget increased from $812,200 to $2,059,600.

Motions that made into the budget included several pet projects for councilmembers. Tyler Maxwell added $1.5 million to preserve the Eviction Protection Program (Dyer blocked another $500,000 requested for the program), and $741,000 for a third-floor exhibit at City Hall.

Luis Chavez added $700,000 for a mobile food vendor program, and $100,000 for the immigrant legal defense fund.

Garry Bredefeld preserved four fire squad units — smaller vehicles to respond to some medical emergencies, saving wear and tear on a larger fire truck — by limiting contributions to the firefighter’s retirement fund, so it is not “overfunded.”

The pension move saved the city $6 million. Dean Sanders, president of the firefighter’s union, objected. The retirement system is currently 116% funded. City Manager Georgeanne White reiterated that the city will still fund the system at 100%.

The budget also includes $790,000 for the FresnoHop trolley service. Started last year, the trolleys shuttles people between Campus Point, the Tower District and downtown Fresno.

The city council took the budget vote in six parts. Only Nelson Esparza voted no on one aspect, the Gann limit, a Proposition 13-era state law that limits how much a government can spend. Esparza annually opposes the Gann limit portion of the vote.

Mayor Supports Court Ruling on Tax Ballot Measure

Dyer said he supported a state Supreme Court ruling made earlier Thursday, denying voters the right to vote on a tax measure on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Called the Taxpayer Protection Act, the measure supported by anti-tax and business groups would have made raising taxes more difficult for cities and the state.

“I think the Supreme Court ruled in the right way,” Dyer said.

If allowed to remain on the ballot, and approved by voters, it would have “unintended consequences on local jurisdictions,” Dyer said, and be “devastating to many cities.”

 

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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