Public Safety, Road Repair Among San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo's Priorities in June Budget Message - NBC Bay Area
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Public Safety, Road Repair Among San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo's Priorities in June Budget Message

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    San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo speaking at the State of the City address.

    San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said that public safety, road repair and investments for children were his top priorities in the city's proposed budget.

    The June Budget Message released Friday serves as Liccardo's recommendations for the roughly $3 billion proposed budget for the fiscal year 2015-2016 prepared by the City Manager's Office.

    His proposal includes more than $6.5 million dedicated to the recruitment, training and employment of police officers.

    "It's important to keep in mind that in addition to that $6.5 million reserve, we have already allocated in the budget enough funding to be able to staff our police department above the levels at which we are currently staffing," Liccardo said.

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    The labor market remains competitive and it will take years to restore staffing levels at the police department to 1,200 or 1,300 officers, according to Liccardo.

    The city has been in negotiations with its police union to determine pay increases for its current officers, he said.

    Other improvements for public safety include money allocated for data analytics software, mobile data computers and facial recognition software, which could help close burglary cases.

    Another $1.95 million has been proposed to hire 14 firefighters with the help of a Federal Emergency Management Agency's Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response grant, which is expected to be approved in August.

    In March, Liccardo had identified priorities in the budget that were approved by the City Council, city officials said.

    The City Manager's Office then prepared a proposed budget that was discussed during community meetings held throughout May in all 10 City Council Districts.

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    A main recommendation by the Mayor was to add $8 million to the $16 million already proposed by the City Manager's Office for paving and repairing city streets, which Liccardo said was a main concern residents identified during the community meetings.

    "Ultimately we need to get to $104 million a year in funding if we're going to be able to climb back to a good condition in our roads within a decade," he said.

    Another investment in the proposed budget includes launching San Jose Works, a summer job program for at-risk teens living in neighborhoods with gangs.

    Employers in the program include Home Depot, PG&E, Target, Bank of America and Microsoft. Interviews for the program will start at San Jose City College on June 11.

    Another notable change in the proposal is opening all 23 city libraries six days a week starting July 1, an increase from the current four-and-half day schedule in recent years, Liccardo said.

    "We're hearing loud and clear from parents and kids that having an additional day-and-a-half of service in our libraries, and particularly on Saturdays, is really critical," Liccardo said.

    The proposal includes dedicating $200,000 to create the city's Office of Immigrant Affairs, a collaborative effort with local nonprofits and Santa Clara County.

    Another plan is to spend $250,000 for the creation of a community center serving the Vietnamese-American community.

    The City Council will vote on Liccardo's recommendations to the proposed budget during its June 9 meeting.

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