The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday approved a $1.4 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year, including another record-high police department spending plan.
Members voted 8-1 in favor, with Council member Katie Valenzuela dissenting after she questioned the roughly $17 million boost to the police budget and again requested law enforcement data driving decisions.
The approved $224 million police budget rose from the $207 million amended budget for the current financial year ending June 30, city documents show. That Sacramento police budget set the previous record and was an about $9 million increase compared to the year before when approved.
City staff did not provide police data Valenzuela requested last month, including breakdowns of 911 calls, measures for success and costs for each program and service.
“The least we expect out of our non-profit partners is the least we should demonstrate with all of our city departments,” Valenzuela said. “We should be able to answer those questions. I should be able to tell people how the money was used and what it achieved.”
Labor costs account for most of the budget increase for the upcoming year, Police Chief Kathy Lester said. Training on issues such as de-escalation and mental health also contribute to police department expenses, Lester added.
Council member Mai Vang voted for the budget with the condition that city staff provide requested police data by mid-year.
“I’ll continue to work on metrics and really try and show year-to-year comparisons to see how we’re doing and where these public funds are going,” Lester said.
Future homelessness funding uncertain
The overall 2022-23 budget is balanced, but city staff have warned that the city can’t afford to maintain current homeless services for the long-term. If the city keeps funding homeless services at the same level, costs will exceed revenues as soon as the 2023-24 fiscal year, per budget documents.
A $13.8 million one-time grant from the state Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) program helps fund services this year. Since the federal government passed the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021, the council has also designated $41 million in limited COVID-19 relief funding for homelessness and housing. But homeless services will cost about $169 million over the next four years, according to city projections.
City homeless programs include the Comprehensive Sitting Plan, which aims to create shelters and designated safe areas for unhoused residents. Among the sites are a safe parking program on Front Street and a camping site at Miller Park.
Sacramento park changes discussed
The council also approved a few adjustments to the proposed budget City Manager Howard Chan released in April. Among them was one-time funding for Oki Park in East Sacramento and Mae Fong Park in the Fruitridge Broadway neighborhood.
Per the approved budget, the city will spend $425,000 of Measure U funds on an urban farm and irrigation project and electrical service at Oki Park. Measure U is a one-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2018, and city officials promised much of it would go toward development in underserved neighborhoods.
The city will also install soccer goals at Mae Fong Park. Mayor Pro Tem Eric Guerra requested the changes in May.
The council also discussed a last-minute park funding request on Tuesday. Vice Mayor Angelique Ashby asked Chan for $50,000 for tennis courts at Susan B. Anthony Park in South Sacramento, but he said the issue can come to council outside the budget process.
Council Member Jeff Harris urged other officials to vote for park funding during mid-year workshops instead of haggling in June.
“I totally agree that our parks need a lot of upkeep and a lot more money,” Harris said. “It is really clear that a well-maintained park system is exactly what we need to do to keep our youth occupied and keep them in a healthy place and a healthy space.”
Sacramento city staff typically present a mid-year budget update in February. Staff also brief the council on issues for future budget development around then. The city manager generally submits a proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year in April.
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