SAN JOSE (KCBS) – San Jose is like many cities in the Bay Area, struggling to grapple with a growing budget deficit from year-to-year.
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said one of the main culprits is city employee pension plans.
“This is all being driven primarily by huge increases in the cost of retirement benefits that we’re seeing throughout our workforce and having to write big checks for,” he said. “That’s just draining money out of services and pouring it into retirement benefits. That’s something that we have to fix.”
Reed said major pension reform is needed to end the budget deficit cycle.
“I think what we have to do is make sure we can pay for the benefits that have been earned and accrued, so that the retirees, who are out there getting checks from us, are going to get the same check,” he said. “We’re not going to cut the amount they’re being paid. But all the increases need to be stretched out.”
KCBS In Depth: An Interview With San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed:
While he knows there is no short-term fix, Reed said he is hopeful that the deficit will not severely affect other services,
“We have a long-term structural budget deficit problem and we are having to shrink our police department and fire department. Last year, we ended up laying off 49 firefighters,” Reed said. “We avoided layoffs in the police department because we got some concessions from our police union and that allowed us to avoid laying off 70 police officers. But that was last year. This next budget cycle is even worse.”
Touching on a few other issues, Mayor Reed said he is deeply opposed to cutting redevelopment agencies statewide. He also said he remains hopeful that the A’s will be able to move the team to San Jose, but has not heard much from Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.
Regarding pot clubs in the city, Reed said the San Jose City Council has approved legislation to limit the number of collectives to ten. He said the hope is to continue to provide for people who are medically in need of marijuana and not try to meet the growing recreational demand in the city.
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