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Divided Sacramento City Council Passes 2015-16 Budget


The  council voted 6 to 3 for the new 2015-16 budget. It includes 50 more police, fire and parks employees than the original proposal.  It also increases the number of people by five who report to Mayor Kevin Johnson.

Sacramento resident Greta Lacin told the council she feels the addition of five new positions is another attempt at a strong mayor form of government.

"His proposal for doubling his staff has been anything but transparent," says Lacin. "Three positions were put in the city manager's budget with no explanation as to how or why that happened. The mayor hasn't explained who these new staff will be, what they will do for the citizens of Sacramento. One of these positions was even filled before this budget was passed tonight."

The mayor responded to the criticism, saying the post he filled was a vacant position. He also says his office has netted the city tens of millions of dollars in federal grants and he wants to hire people to expand that work.

"For us to be able to invest for more capacity to increase our chances, to get more resources that impact over half the city?" says Johnson. "That's a good investment for the city of Sacramento. That's not to -as it's been said before- to feather the mayor's nest. Talk about hyperbole. That's just not what this thing's about. "

To pay for everything in the budget the council voted to increase the amount of voter-approved Measure U tax funds for city services to $49 million. That's $7 million more than they had previously planned to spend.

The increase will pay for 15 new police officers, 18 new parks employees, two new ambulances and a fire truck for Natomas.

Critics say the spending plan decreases the Measure U reserve and doesn't give the city enough money for a smooth transition when  the tax expires in four years.

Councilman Steve Hansen voted against the budget. He says the city's long-term spending plan is unsustainable because it has not addressed its long-term debts.

"This budget -unlike any budget that I know of in the past few years with this council- has begun the path of financial instability," says Hansen.

Councilman Allen Warren voted yes.

"I've heard a number of people say, 'Well, if we hire somebody today, in four years, we're gonna have to lay them off,'" says Warren. "Well, if it was me, I would rather have a job today and work for four years and deal with the four years afterwards."

The new budget goes into effect when the fiscal year starts July 1.

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