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Reallocation of funds from Redwood City's budget for this year to be discussed

Reallocation of funds from Redwood City's budget for this year to be discussed
Redwood City's budget has a $21 million surplus; but those funds apparently couldn't be touched because the municipality anticipates that the numbers that come in the coming years... will be red. 

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Redwood City is now in a more comfortable position than other neighboring cities in the county to face a budget shortfall. Has a surplus of $21 million in fiscal year 2023-24; but those funds apparently could not be touched because the municipality anticipates that the numbers coming in the coming years... will be red. 

The money will be needed in the two fiscal years that follow, so there is not much left to pay for essential services in the months ahead. Among those, salaries and maintenance of the police force. 

On Monday, June 10, the City Council discussed in a “study session” some of the measures that could be taken to address the crisis. 

As we previously reported, Redwood City is considering including a tax on licenses granted to new businesses on the local ballot in the November elections. 

Prevention is cure 

At the meeting on Monday, June 10, it was reported that, from a survey conducted among residents, the proposal to invest one million dollars in security cameras to be installed in some areas of the city resulted. 

However, this initiative did not go down well with some councilors.

Vice Mayor Lissette-Espinoza Garnica and Councilman Chris Sturkin said they prefer that at least part of those funds for the cameras be allocated to programs that help keep many susceptible young people out of the criminal justice system.

According to Espinoza-Garnica, “the best way to invest that money would be to put emphasis on prevention services” (of crimes) instead of spending it on programs that serve if the crime has already been committed or if the incident has already happened.

“Using more police officers or having cameras to combat crime is not going to reduce it,” said the Latina vice mayor. “That just perpetuates the cycle of criminalization,” he said. 

The deficit: here and in Sacramento

Among the causes of the fiscal “hole” that worries the city is the possible refusal of the state government to pay what corresponds to Redwood City in motor vehicle licenses.

California typically collects that money and reimburses it to municipalities during the following fiscal year. But as the state faces its own $28 billion deficit — according to Gavin Newsom's budget — Sacramento suggested three counties could Not receive those vital funds. And among them, is our county of San Mateo. 

Mayor Jeff Gee is optimistic and believes that in the end, the reimbursement will be paid to the municipalities. 

“These funds happen to be very volatile,” Gee said. But he also warned that “services and programs will have to be adapted to the budget” available. 

For the 2024-25 fiscal year, if the anticipated deficit is covered with those 21 million, there will still be a red of 15 million dollars. 

What yes and what not

According to a report presented by the city, another cause of the deficit is the slow economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The same report proposes a reduction in municipal spending of 5 percent if necessary, which would result in the disappearance of the downtown police unit, the closure of the Red Morton Community Center on weekends, and in cuts to youth and recreation programs. 

What would not be suspended for now is the repair of sidewalks, the replacement of traffic lights, the construction of ramps for wheelchairs and the completion of work in the pedestrian zone on Broadway Street.

The next budget discussion will be on Monday the 24th, and public comments are received before the date and in person on the same day. 

You may be interested in: $40 million allocated for affordable housing in San Mateo County

Raul Ayrala
Raul Ayrala
He was born in Carcarañá, Argentina. He started in radio at the age of 14, studied Broadcasting in Buenos Aires, and then worked in television, written press and websites. In the United States he joined communication teams at NBC Noticias, The Weather Channel, Telemundo and Univision. Lives in Redwood City.

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