Mayor Liccardo & City Leaders Assemble 2018-2019 Budget of $3.45 Billion

Photo Credit: Allef Vinicius/Unsplash

Hilbert Morales

Many more San Jose residents need to understand their role as stakeholders (really shareholders’) by reviewing the 2018-19 Budget information presented in summary form at this link to the SJ budgets:

SJ residents, in the aggregate, support this civic services business whose annual budget totals $3.45 billion NET (made up by your property taxes, sales taxes, license fees, etc.) and employs about 7,000 civic workers, many of whom are specialists. Their purpose is to deliver essential community civic services.

Those services establish the quality of life enjoyed by all. The role of government is to enable delivery of many services which cannot be successfully accomplished by individuals, families or local firms. Do go to that budget link to see the list of budget totals which underwrite these civic activities and services.

Unlike private businesses and corporations, San Jose’s budget is public. Just reviewing it will be very informative and reveals the many professional employees in civic service.

Residents need to know enough to communicate with city service departments when requesting road repairs, police or firefighting services. Water, sewage, trash disposal, airports, parks & recreation; rent control, building code enforcement…and many more. Its revenues collections and budget operations go on all year long.

During March 2018, Mayor Sam Liccardo released his June Budget Message, outlining his final recommendations and changes to the Proposed Budget for the City of San Jose’s 2018-19 fiscal year by the City Manager’s Office.

The Mayor’s proposed recommendations targets investment in Public Safety, #BeautySJ; and Housing/Homelessness, while also Saving to Protect Against Future Shortfalls (i.e., a contingency fund).

While San Jose City’s fiscal outlook is much more stable and improved than a decade ago when Mayor Chuck Reed exposed the growing retirement benefits obligations, there is still limited capacity for making major new spending commitments. In addition, the City may continue to face small projected deficits in future years and potential “storm clouds” on the economic horizon.

This led the Mayor to recommended placing $15.5 million into (rainy day) reserves to protect the City’s long-term fiscal stability and focused a modest set of new investments as this community’s top priorities.

“We still face challenging years ahead, requiring a prudent and strategic approach to spending,” said Mayor Liccardo. “We must focus our (civic) investments carefully to improve safety, broaden economic opportunity, enhance neighborhood quality of life, and strengthen civic infrastructure.”

These new investments are being proposed for the 2018-19 budget:

*Public Safety: In addition to funds needed to support the SJPD rebuilding (close to 200 new officers recruited over the past 2 years), the budget includes additional investments in public safety, such as:

A. Allocation of $150,000 for a pilot program offering emergency housing and/or assistance to victims of domestic or family violence

B. Enhancing staffing in the domestic violence and sexual assaults units by modifying the Police Athletic League’s Administration.

C. Expanding traffic and pedestrian safety measures in key locations, which are expected to help reduce traffic related injuries and deaths.

* Housing and Homelessness: To aid its efforts to confront the region’s growing (& existing) housing crisis, the FY 18-19 budget proposal includes:

A. An additional $3 million to support the City’s various homelessness initiatives.
B. New investments in the City’s rental rights program to expand available assistance for renters and create a Rental Registry to better monitor landlord compliance with the City’s rent control laws.
C. Funding for a pilot program that would help support the early development of unconventional, cost-effective housing concepts. For example, retrofitting dilapidated buildings to accommodate new affordable housing units.

*#BeautifySJ: The Mayor has proposed continuing and expanding funding for the City’s new beautification initiative, which has enlisted more than 25,000 volunteers, nearly tripled the amount of trash and litter collected, and enhanced the City’s response to illegal dumping and free junk pickup requests. The budget would include (additional) new funding to:

A. Develop My San Jose 2.0, which will expand the number of

service requests available via the user-friendly app.
B. Add staffing to the City’s anti-litter program to support the

growing number of neighborhood cleanups taking place

throughout the City.
C. Expand a partnership with the Downtown Streets Team to

address blight along the Monterey Road corridor.

Additionally, the FY 2018-19 budget proposal includes funding for various Smart City projects, in which an initial, one-time investment can help significantly improve service delivery and efficiency (while) yielding ongoing budget savings). These include:

A) SJ Clean Energy Phase I is expected to begin serving businesses and residents in Spring 2019. However, as an initial start-up phase, the City of San Jose will transition to purchasing electricity for its municipal purposes (i.e. electricity needed for City buildings and operations) this fall. If the City Administration’s recommendation is approved, the City of San Jose will purchase 40% renewable and 100% GHG (green-house gas)-free sourced electricity for its municipal operations – a “greener” level of electricity than it currently purchases from PG&E.

B) An updated Affordable Housing Investment Plan, which outlines the City’s strategy for facilitating development of new affordable housing over the next five fiscal years. During that time, the City estimates that it will collect approximately $335 million in revenues from Inclusionary fees, the low and moderate-income housing affordable fund, and other sources, which can be used to invest in affordable housing. When combined with other external funding sources (including County Measure A funds), the City projects that it currently will have enough funding to facilitate the development of 5,615 new rent-restricted, affordable housing units.

It is advisable to coordinate with the County regarding those programs (domestic violence; affordable housing/homelessness; and infrastructural issues) which are also being addressed by the Board of Supervisors and County Executive in their 2018-19 Budget. Let’s ensure that taxpayers are not being asked to underwrite the same program (project) twice…once at the city level and again at the county level.

One way to do that is to become a member of a Board, Commission, or Committee” within the City of San Jose or the County of Santa Clara. One learns a lot about corporate organizations, management, budgeting, and inclusive public decision-making while serving as a member of these three groups. Such service ensures that the best practices are used and that public revenues are used for the purpose intended. In addition, members may learn about the CA Administrative Codes and may be able to provide input which resolve community concerns and identifies needs. Objective overview (having no conflict of interest) of civic operations is essential to having your taxes being used efficiently, effectively and properly.

All that information about the City of San Jose, CA annual budget is available online. In the past I have learned much which helped me advance in my career as a manager through my personal involvement & experiences as a member of Boards, Commissions and Committees. All because I chose to become an active informed advocate who learned to get things done and get thing changed… both of which undercut those gatekeepers who favored their friends and/or cronies. These civic operations budgets can teach you a lot… all are available online. In this diverse community, the City’s diversity must be professionally present.

Note that 11 decision-makers (the Mayor and 10 City Council members) are elected officials. Your individual vote at this level COUNTS. Your vote may enforce accountability and responsibility. It all begins with “We, The People” who agree to be governed by a participatory DEMOCRACY.