, May 20, 2022

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City council to get first look at Vallejo’s new budget

  •   3 min reads
City council to get first look at Vallejo’s new budget
Vallejo City Hall.

VALLEJO – The Vallejo City Council is scheduled to get its first look at the city’s upcoming 2022-23 operating budget during a special workshop on Tuesday.

The agenda states that the council will “provide input to staff” about the proposed budget and receive an update on departmental budgets.

The Vallejo Police Department budget is expected to generate interest from the community, as it has during the past two budget discussions. Following the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020, many cities across the country began discussions about shifting resources from police budgets to social services.

City leaders have maintained that “defunding” Vallejo’s police force would be a bad idea. At the height of the protests, then-City Manager Greg Nyhoff, along with police Chief Shawny Williams issued a statement in July 2020 arguing that the city already “defunded” the department when it cut officer positions in response to Vallejo entering bankruptcy a decade earlier.

“A defunded police department would mean fewer officers and staff to address non-emergency calls (such as a stolen car or home burglary), potentially longer response times, as well as the possibility of increased violence on our streets,” said Nyhoff and Williams. “While it can be uncomfortable to discuss these types of projections, it is important that we have frank discussions about how budgets impact the Vallejo Police Department’s capacity to respond to victims of crime and help our community.”

A year later, the city council increased the department’s general fund spending by more than $3 million for the current fiscal year budget. The department accounts for more than 45% of the city’s general fund spending.

Despite that, the department has faced staff shortages anyway. The Vallejo Police Officers Association issued a statement on Sunday that said that only 84 of the 131 budgeted sworn positions were filled. Rather than the budget, the POA has blamed Williams and low morale in the department for departures and difficulty recruiting.

The council already amended the city’s current fiscal year budget earlier this year in response to complaints from residents about the number of potholes in the city, including allocating $500,000 to street repair. Other adjustments included spending $50,000 on software for employee evaluations, spending $66,000 to fund a full-time youth coordinator position for the balance of the current fiscal year and freezing the funding of a police captain position, a police lieutenant position and a corporal position to fund the hiring of several non-sworn police positions.

Vallejo’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

In a separate special meeting on Tuesday, the council will meet in closed session to receive an update from its negotiators about the status of more than 80 different land parcels in and around the Hiddenbrooke neighborhood.

The city’s negotiators include Assistant City Manager Gillian Hayes, and Paul Kelley, special advisor to the city manager for economic development.

According to the agenda, the negotiating parties are the city of Vallejo and Solano County.

The special closed session meeting is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday inside the Vallejo City Hall Council Chambers, 555 Santa Clara St. The public will have an opportunity to address the council before it enters closed session.

The council is scheduled to meet to discuss the upcoming city budget at 5 p.m., Tuesday, inside the Vallejo City Council Council Chambers, 555 Santa Clara St.

Members of the public will be able to participate in-person or remotely via Zoom.

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