If you missed San Jose’s 11 Community Budget Meetings, you can catch up on what residents had to say in a memo that will be posted on the city’s Web site before the mayor’s June 3 budget message is released.
The comments and questions, which have been recorded by Alexandra Orologas of the City Manager’s office, will be compiled for Mayor Chuck Reed and San Jose City Council members. There’s still time to add your own comments, too.
The city council budget study sessions will be May 11 through the 19 in the City Hall Council Chambers, and public hearings are scheduled for May 17 and June 13.
At the May 9 budget meeting in District 8 in the Quimby Oak Middle School library, cuts to neighborhood services once again took center stage.
Proposals in thebudget released on May 3 include closing libraries all but three days, leasing 42 community centers to private operators and outsourcing graffiti removal.
Even if all of the city’s 11 employee unions agree to 10 percent cuts in pay and benefits, the city will still need to lay off about 20 percent of its workforce. So far, 370 full-time employees have been notified that they could be laid off, and 446 were told they will be moved to different positions through the seniority process or demoted to a lower-paying job. If agreements aren’t reached with the six unions that are still in negotiations, more than 400 more positions could be cut.
”Who is going to run the city if you’re laying off everybody everywhere,” asked Gracie Garcia-Ramos of the Meadowfair Neighborhood in Evergreen. “What does that leave us with? We don’t have any more Strong Neighborhoods. Two hundred and eighty people used to come to National Night Out. I’m down to eight people.”
Former Strong Neighborhoods employee Patricia Ramos agreed, and expressed concern that field worker positions were being replaced by jobs for managers.
“We have a very volatile area,” she said of the West Evergreen Strong Neighborhoods Area. “They have a lot of challenges. We don’t want that to spread.”
Most of the city staffing for Strong Neighborhoods was being paid for by the Redevelopment Agency, explained Deputy City Manager Norberto Duenas, and that funding is no longer there.
“We’re trying to keep the program alive,” he said. “We are going to have to build our relationships with our communities.”
Said Councilmember Rose Herrera, who represents District 8 on the council, “What do we do so we don’t lose everything we’ve gained. We don’t have all the answers, but there are a lot of creative ideas out there. I’m working with the SNIs in Evergreen so we don’t lose momentum.”
Paula Martinez, a District 8 resident who works in the call center at City Hall, is worried about branch libraries opening only three days a week.
“This is going to put our children at risk,” she said. “A library is a really safe haven where children can go after school while waiting for their parents to pick them up. If the library is shut, children will be vulnerable on the streets.”
Concern was also expressed over a plan to outsource graffiti removal to a private company and cutting staff members who now do the work.
“We have a tremendous anti-graffiti team I would like to support,” Herrera said. “But that means I have to find somewhere else to cut.”