SJ Public Offers Wish List of How to Spend Money

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The San Jose city council on Monday held a final public comment meeting before it is scheduled to vote on the mayor's $2.6 billion budget proposal -- which include increased funding for the police and fire departments. Terry McSweeney reports. (Published Monday, Jun 10, 2013)

    San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed says his city has something it hasn't had in years: Cash.

    "This year we have a little bit of extra money to improve the city and I'm grateful for that," he said.

    Reed wants to spend that additional money to recruit and train police officers, hire community service officers, pay police overtime and increase gang prevention. The police union wants more pay and benefits.

    Despite all the excitement, the issue was barely mentioned during a public input session Monday night. Still, there were residents who offered a laundry list of ideas on how they'd like to spend the money.

    "I call for the city council to rearrange the library budget so they are open Saturdays and four days a week without budget restraints," suggested resident Melissa Margajanis.

    A string of Independence High School students pushed for funding for rangers at Overfelt Park.

    "No one will be educated about the park rules or the landmarks and why they have been put here for their enjoyment and appreciation," said student Melissa Lee.

    What it came down to for Milan Balinton, the executive director of the African American Community Services Agency, was a paint job. "So we are asking for  $25,000 to make improvements to the outside and inside of our building."

    Maria Noel Fernandez was one of the few residents at the meeting who was lobbying for more police funding: "We support efforts to expand the burglary investigation unit and make a plan to reduce burglaries by 5 percent and increase arrests by 5 percent."

    The comments may not indicate a lack of interest in public safety but rather the people already having had their say on that issue.

    Reed says there have been many public comment periods on the spending plan before Monday night.

    "This is at least the 15th opportunity the public has had to speak out. Our community based budget process has been going on for six months."

    Tuesday night, the council will vote on the plan. Reed expects it to pass.