Cops on horseback are an endangered species in San Jose.
Supporters of the San Jose Police Department's Mounted Unit accused the city of negotiating in "bad faith." The Friends of the San Jose Mounted United asked the City Council to return $50,000 already donated to save the mounted unit from budget cuts, after concerns that City Manager Debra Figone would cut the mounted unit anyway unless the police officers' union accepted 10 percent cuts in pay, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
"Now that we're actually raising the money, they're changing the rules," said Denelle Fedor, the chief fundraiser for the group and chief of staff for city Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio. The city said in December the unit would be saved if enough private money was raised; recent word that the unit could be axed anyway violates that agreement, she said.
Figone called any reports of the mounted unit's demise premature, and offered to sit down in talks with Fedor and other horse-cop supporters.
Private funding founded the San Jose mounted unit 25 years ago, after business groups ponied up $70,000 to encourage visitors to the city's downtown.
But the city is facing its tenth-straight budget deficit, and even if the police union accepts pay cuts, some 100 San Jose cops will be laid off in July. If the cuts are not accepted, the layoffs will double, according to the newspaper.
It costs $280,000 to maintain the Mounted Unit for one year -- and that's only two officers on horseback, down from eight four years ago.