Coronavirus impact: San Jose hopes to avoid major budget cuts, reduction in services

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has released his final budget message for the upcoming fiscal year and says the city should be able to avoid big service cuts, despite the recession caused by the coronavirus.

"We're going to be able to maintain basic services," said Liccardo. "I know a lot of cities are going through gut wrenching cuts right now, but we're already doing better than most because we've already been thinly staffed and we've put a lot of money in the reserves in the good times."

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Next week, city council members are expected to vote on Liccardo's proposed $4.1 billion dollar budget, which is set to start in July. Much of the calculations are dependent on the economy making a comeback by the fall.

Liccardo added, "The real challenge is going to be year 2 and year 3, and obviously we're going to learn more in the weeks and months ahead about how we're going to be able to get through the tough time ahead."

In an effort to save money, San Jose has either frozen or eliminated unfilled positions at city hall and other departments. However, one addition for next year includes the creation of a new Office of Racial Equity, which will be partly funded by outside grants from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

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"Creating the office is the first step and the people in there need to absolutely change the way that business is done in City Hall," said Kelly Snider, a lecturer with the SJSU Urban and Regional Planning Department.

Snider, who also serves a parks and recreation commissioner, says cities can play a positive role with the right priorities, adding that, "More money to parks and recreation, more money to community services, much more money and staffing for mental health services" could help end some of the racism seen within the community.

"We're going to continue tightening our belt and focus our dollars on the highest priorities consistent with our values," said Liccardo.

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