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Dyer Warns of Public Safety Cuts Without Biden Aid

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Jerry Dyer is worried that without another round of federal relief money, the city could be facing a severe budget shortfall.

This week, the Fresno mayor warned of a potential $30 million deficit in comments to the Washington Post.

At a news conference at the Welcome Inn on Wednesday, Dyer renewed his support for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic package.

“I believe it is absolutely critical to our city and to our county — where we are number two in the state of California in poverty. We have a lot of needs that are unmet right now and we owe it to our people to be able to meet those needs. That relief package is something that’s going to help us,” Dyer said.

If those funds do not come, Dyer said there may have to be cuts to public safety. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the measure next week.

Public Safety in Jeopardy without Federal Funds

After state and city emergency orders shut down many businesses and altered life and freedom of movement, the city expected the worst. Early estimates were losses of $32 million for Fiscal Year 2021.

At the request of then-mayor Lee Brand, the City Council did not pass a budget until October 2020, four months later than normal. Cuts were spared because of the more than $90 million in federal funds from the CARES Act.

Dyer warns that public safety cuts may happen without a new infusion of federal dollars.

“If those federal funds don’t come to our jurisdiction, we have to have some serious discussions about where we’re going to balance our budget. And as many folks knows, the majority of our budget is in public safety. Those are the discussions we have to have about not filling vacancies, hopefully not get to the point of layoffs, but a loss of our ability to serve this community in the manner in which we desire,” Dyer said.

In the current budget, police use 51% ($196 million) of the general fund; the fire department uses 19% ($73 million).

Federal Funds Can Help

“If those federal funds don’t come to our jurisdiction, we have to have some serious discussions about where we’re going to balance our budget.”Mayor Jerry Dyer

He said the pandemic has led to a reduction of revenue sources in Fresno — including business license taxes and hotel taxes. Dyer also said Fresnans are $5 million behind in paying their utility bills.

Dyer said Biden’s package would help the city in many aspects — housing, revenue shortfalls, utilities and rent, vaccinations and school openings. FEMA funds might be able to be used for housing projects.

“All of those dollars are the dollars that we’re going to pursue,” Dyer said.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email