SJ community center opens thanks to budget surplus

June 11, 2012 7:16:11 PM PDT
In San Jose the public will have a chance to weigh in on the city's proposed budget on Monday night. It's the last chance before Tuesday's council vote and the surprise this year is that San Jose has a surplus and not a deficit.

The fences are still up around the new Bascom Library and community center, but not for long, thanks to this year's budget -- the first in a decade without a deficit. The mayor is crediting last year's budget cuts including layoffs and pay cuts.

The brand new Bascom Library isn't scheduled to open until next year, but the community center in the same complex will open Monday. Thanks to a budget surplus, a two-year delay is over. The center opened its doors for registration May 19th.

"About 400 or 500 people came out throughout the day. They were excited to see this place and we're really happy for the community because they're the ones who really are going to benefit from having the facility finally being open," Ed Bautista with the San Jose Department of Parks and Recreation said.

In addition to a shiny new gym and state of the art exercise room, the center also has a multi-purpose room. "Business conferences, birthdays, quinceaneras that people can put on, and then we have a teen room or game room, where we'll be having camps. In fact, that's going to be the first program starting next Monday," Bautista said.

The center is finally opening its doors thanks to a modest budget surplus. The upcoming budget has an $883 million general fund that includes a $9 million surplus. The new Bascom Library is one of four that would be able to open, along with a new police substation. The mayor's proposed budget would develop 11 new parks, put $2 million toward gang prevention, and there would be street maintenance on some of the city's most-used routes.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed warns that the small surplus is hardly the end of the city's financial challenges. "It's a very small cushion. It's not really a surplus because there are many things we're not going to be able to pay that we should pay, but it allows us to cautiously begin to try to restore some of the services that have been cut," he said.

Councilman Ash Kalra thinks this year's budget should go further to restore services. "I think the mayor went part way to restoring services that I think are critical for our city. I think that we can add more library hours; the funding is there in order to do it. I think we can add more resources to our police department," he said.

The budget is not without some controversy, including new pension reductions for employees hired after July 1, 2012.

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