Politics & Government

City gets $2.1 million extra to spend

Fresno leaders have begun looking for ways to spend a $2.1 million windfall they didn't expect when writing this year's city budget.

The bulk of the budget surplus comes from higher-than-expected sales-tax revenue; the rest from city departments that spent less than what they were allocated in last year's budget.

City Manager Andy Souza will recommend today that the City Council form a three-member council subcommittee to come up with ideas for how to spend the money. The committee also would include at least one member from Mayor Alan Autry's administration.

Last year, the city had a $10.8 million surplus that it used to pay down debt, build up reserves and pump money into the Fire Department.

Autry's administration already has some suggestions in mind for this year's surplus.

Souza hopes some of the money will cover police officers' overtime expenses that resulted from the ongoing gang crackdown in southeast Fresno.

Part of the surplus, he said, should be put in reserves in case the city's property tax revenues fall short because of the downturn in Fresno's housing market.

Another recommendation will be to use the windfall to help pay for 44 wooden sheds, portable toilets and trash bins at a downtown homeless shelter.

At today's council meeting, city officials will recommend expanding the Poverello House's services. The proposal comes with a $250,000 price tag, part of which could be paid for with federal grants.

Souza said the subcommittee could have a spending plan ready for council approval in about three weeks.