SJ City Council reviews budget cuts

May 7, 2009 7:41:14 PM PDT
If you live in San Jose, you're facing some deep cuts in services. If you work for the city of San Jose, you may have to give up your pay raise.

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It is no-win situation for everyone in a city grappling with a $78 million budget deficit.

Eighty senior citizens gather at the Alma Senior Center every day for lunch, even more on special days.

"Every day we come for lunch, and we talk with our friends, and if you close us down, if they close us down, where are we going to go?" said Alma Center senior Toni San Severino.

The center is one of six in San Jose facing closure in January, as the City Council takes a blue pencil to the budget. Reductions in state funding and property taxes have created a $77.5 billion deficit.

Proposed cuts include eliminating an engine company at Station 30, closing libraries twice a week and cutting the police department's mounted patrol.

"I'm going to look for every single dollar that I can find in this budget that can be available to be used to save some of these crucial services," said San Jose Councilmember Nora Campos.

A plan to eliminate all 22 park rangers has created an uproar, along with closing Alum Rock Park on Mondays.

"We used to come up here all the time for picnics. And then the gangs and the bad elements came into the park, they cut the rangers years ago, and that's what happened. It was a bad element, and nobody would come," said San Jose resident John Parisi.

"So, you're worried that might happen again?" asked ABC7's David Louie.

"Oh, yeah," said Parisi.

Council members recognize the cuts will be unwelcome.

"I do anticipate a lot of unhappiness or disappointment from our city residents, but during these tough times, we just have to do the best for the overall city," said San Jose Councilmember Kansen Chu.

City workers are being asked to give up pay raises, even though there's $12 million to cover them in the budget.

The city manager, city attorney, city clerk and city auditor have taken 3.75 percent pay cuts.

"It's important that those at the top be willing to do what they've asked others to do," said Jose City Manager Debra Figone.

The Council will be drilling down into every aspect of city government to see where they can make cuts. They have to make the final decision by next month.

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