Reporting Betsy Gebhart
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SAN JOSE (KCBS) – The San Jose City Council has approved a budget that includes hundreds of layoffs, in an attempt to close a $150 million deficit. The final vote was 7-4 in favor of Mayor Chuck Reed’s budget plan for 2011-2012. This means 500 city workers will be laid off, including around 100 police officers.
The police layoffs come in the face of 27 homicides so far this year in San Jose, which is a murder rate not seen in the city since the 1980s.
KCBS’ Betsy Gebhart Reports:
Police Officers Association President George Beattie told the council that the SJPD is the most understaffed major metropolitan area police department in the U.S.
”Just in the last week alone in San Jose we had a riot involving 100 people,” said Beattie. “Three people were stabbed. We’ve also had two homicides, a triple shooting, and a quadruple shooting.”
The council did vote to add back 13 officer positions.
The four council members opposed to the mayor’s budget wanted to save even more officers’ jobs. This included Javier Campos, Pete Constant, Kansen Chu, and Ash Kalra.
The plan will keep libraries open four days a week, with Reed calling it a public safety issue.
In another vote, the city council approved a new round of rate hikes for essential city services, meaning San Jose residents are about to pay more for fresh water and to have their garbage picked up.
KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:
Sewer bills in San Jose have gone up almost 75 percent over the past several years, and will now be going up about 35 percent more over the next four years. Tuesday’s rate hikes affect sewer, water and recycling bills.
San Jose resident Ted Scarlet said he was fed up with the city’s growing environmental services department at a time when the city is raising rates and cutting from other departments.
”It’s time to get this department under control,” said Scarlet. “I understand this department is actually hiring people and giving raises, and enough is enough!”
Other residents said this was the wrong time to be asking families to pay more for city services.
City officials have said the hikes are necessary to pay for the planned overhaul of the aging water pollution control plant, which is now estimated to cost $1.8 billion.
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