San Jose

Budget Deficit Forces San Jose to Consider Cuts to Public Safety

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A new battle might be brewing between San Jose police officers, firefighters, and city hall.

The city says huge budget deficit caused by the pandemic is forcing cuts to public safety. But police officers say those cuts are not necessary if the city is smart about how it spends federal stimulus funds.

The city council is currently going through budget sessions. San Jose received $178 million from the Cares Act. Police said the funding is enough to spare some very cuts to public safety.

Virtually everyone will feel the pain in the new operating budget proposed this week by San Jose's city manager, including public safety. On Friday, the police union raised its concern.

"If we start going back to those days, then we're going to be concerned and very vocal about it," San Jose Police Officer Association President Sgt. Paul Kelly said.

Those days refers to just a few years ago and the fight for pension reform, when hundreds of officers left the force and police services were slashed dramatically.

The police union said new federal guidelines show cities can use the Cares Act stimulus funds they just received -- $178 million for San Jose -- to pay for public safety salaries, which would eliminate the need for cuts.

"I don't think there's going to be a need for a fight," Kelly said. "I sure hope not."

The city manager's chief of staff provided the following statement Friday:

"CARES Act and the regulations from the Deptartment Treasury are still under evaluation by us and many other major cities in the US…  The city continues to seek clarity from the federal government and is being relentless in advocating the federal government for additional funding to help prevent service cuts and layoffs."

The police union said it hopes city hall clearly sees the federal funds are the key to avoid going back to the dark days.

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