San Jose's police staffing problems sparked a bitter city battle Tuesday over millions of dollars in funds left over from last year's budget.
The city currently has an influx of $17 million more than projected from higher-than-expected revenue, officials said. San Jose's city manager is recommending $3.8 million of the revenue be stashed in a reserve fund created in June to help pay for officer recruiting efforts.
Most of the influx of revenue came from unfilled police positions. San Jose's police force has dwindled from 1,300 officers to less than 900.
Councilman Ash Kalra, who pointed out the reserve fund already has about $10 million, instead is recommending $2 million of the city's revenue be distributed to neighborhood associations to pay for safety measure during the police shortage.
"Whether it's for getting alarms for residents or for private patrols, they can decide best how to make neighborhoods safer," Kalra said.
Neighborhood groups support Kalra's recommendation.
"I think it's a great idea and it would help our members in the community feel a lot safer if we have access to funds like that," said Danielle Perslin, San Tomas West Neighborhood Association president.
The San Jose Police Officers Association also are in favor of the plan.
"Citizens need to do what they can to protect themselves now that the police department is no longer going to be able to protect them like we used to," said James Gonzales, a police officers association board member.
Mayor Chuck Reed, however, scoffed at Kalra's idea.
"Give it to a neighborhood association to spend on who knows what?" Reed said. "It's just a terrible idea."
The council on Tuesday rejected Kalra's idea and decided the extra revenue go into the reserve fund.