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From Free Public Transit For Kids To A New Sports Complex, Sacramento Mayor Releases List Of Budget Priorities

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg revealed a list of 21 favorite things on Thursday that he thinks deserve a combined $16 million from next year’s budget.

It includes expansions of existing programs like Summer Night Lights, an anti-gang violence event series; the Thousand Strong workforce development program; as well as a new sports complex in Del Paso Heights.

The money would come from an estimated $50 million pot of mostly Measure U sales tax revenue. Steinberg wants to designate this even though a citizen's advisory panel that offers guidelines for Measure U spending has yet to make any recommendations.

"I thought it appropriate to tell the people of Sacramento that, while we are going to empower our advisory committees and investment committees to really frame a long-term plan with us, we really didn't want to wait for all that," the mayor said on Thursday during a press conference at City Hall, with supporters standing behind him in his office.

Some community members have voiced concern that Measure U revenue would not go toward low-income communities, as the mayor suggested it should before voters approved the tax last year.

The Greater Sacramento Economic Council, for instance, has been critical of the city for the way it has gone about planning for the expenditure of Measure U money.

“The real question for a budget that has been advanced this substantially with public dollars: How many neighborhoods are you gonna clean up? How many parks are you going to build and open?" said the group’s president, Barry Broome.

The mayor’s proposal would fund programs whose funding is set to expire soon. The Sacramento Youth Pop-Ups pilot program, for instance, was created earlier this year in response to several brawls by young people hanging out at the Arden Fair Mall over the holidays by hosting 10 events every weekend in neighborhoods throughout the city. If the mayor's plan is approved, the program would be expanded.

"With that [expansion] would be a youth employment strategy, which is really important because we want to be able to create a pipeline of youth being engaged and being able to participate," the Sierra Health Foundation’s Kaying Hang said after the mayor’s announcement. The private philanthropic nonprofit is one of the groups to host the events.

Some of the mayor's other proposals include a $1.3 million restoration of the Iceland skating rink, $750,000 for the relocation of the Sacramento LGBT Center and $900,000 for the arts. The Sacramento River bike trail would receive $2 million. Steinberg also asked for $290,000 that would go to for the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools for reading programs.

The mayor says $11 million of the $16 million total falls under the category of inclusive economic development because it includes investment in youth programs, enhancements of neighborhood services, transportation safety and the arts

Steinberg says the final component of inclusive economic development would be handled by Councilman Steve Hansen’s proposal to issue $100 million in bonds, which would be used to pay for affordable housing. Hansen’s plan is as part of a $250 million bond package, using Measure U revenue as collateral.

The mayor had previously proposed issuing $440 million in bonds, but has since thrown his support behind Hansen’s plan, which limits the amount of debt the city can take on, and that calls for contributions to the city’s emergency reserve fund.

The Sacramento City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting.

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