VALLEJO – Two years after community members began calling for the city to reduce the Vallejo Police Department’s sizable footprint on the city’s budget, the department is slated to receive a $4 million increase under the city’s proposed 2022-23 fiscal year budget.
With a proposed $57.9 million budget, Vallejo police will continue to account for 45% of the city’s general fund expenditures.
Despite calls to shift funding away from the department toward community services, the police budget has steadily grown over the years. The department had a $45.5 million budget during the city’s 2019-20 fiscal year budget. Fiscal years run from July 1 to the following June 30.
According to the proposed budget, the $4 million increase includes $838,000 for salaries and benefits and $300,000 for vehicle maintenance and replacement.
City hall is recommending that the number of budgeted sworn police positions remain at 132, while the force receives 12 additional non-sworn positions boosting the civilian staff from 57 to 69.
Following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020, calls were made across the country to defund local law enforcement agencies. Vallejo was no exception, particularly after Vallejo police fatally shot Sean Monterrosa outside a Walgreens on June 2, 2020.
The city council debated on whether to cut funding to the department ahead of the 2020-21 fiscal year budget, but ultimately decided not to.
Other city departments are also expected to see an increase to their budgets, including $2.2 million to the fire department, $750,000 to public works, $4 million to planning and development services, and $1.5 million to the city administration. Most of those increases are tied to bumps to salary and benefits.
City Manager Mike Malone is projecting a structurally balanced budget as general fund revenues are expected to top $131 million with expenditures to reach $130 million. The overall budget – which also includes revenue that can’t be redirected to other areas – is projected to be $291 million with Vallejo police accounting for 19% of the total budget.
The city is projecting an 8.9% increase in general fund revenue. City officials project an increase of nearly $5.5 million in sales tax revenue over the next year and a $1.5 million increase in property tax revenue. Sales and property taxes account for a combined 59% of the city’s general fund revenue.
“In this budget we are proposing to restore service levels diminished during the pandemic, rebuild reserves, and work to implement postponed capital projects,” Malone wrote in a letter attached to the proposed budget. “Due to surging inflation, a dramatic jump in the global price of crude oil and monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve, we are cautiously forecasting a slight increase in revenue for the coming fiscal year.”
Malone also wrote that the city is poised to “to reach a point of stability and growth since the early days of Covid.” He highlighted his appointment to the permanent city manager position last month and his decision to permanently fill several senior-level positions in his cabinet as examples of stability.
He also touted the city’s ability to hire 110 new employees, saying that “while that is a far cry from where we need to be with our staffing, it is a step in the right direction.” Malone didn’t provide a timeframe on when those employees were hired.
A Vallejo Sun investigation found that the city’s staffing shortage included 193 vacant positions as of April 8, which was up from the 150 vacancies disclosed by the city in January. Most of the vacant positions were in the fire, water and police departments.
Malone said his office has begun the process of hiring houselessness and youth coordinators, organized more than 50 volunteer cleanups to beautify the city, and launched community outreach to identify alternative locations for the city’s police force after community backlash against a plan to move the department to a new waterfront headquarters.
“I am also excited to share with you that the process of getting back into the community has begun with our commitment to having an outreach tent at the local Farmers Market on Georgia Street one Saturday a month,” Malone wrote. “You can expect to see department heads and Staff out there to re-connect with community members and share important information and updates about the City.”
Approval of the 2022-23 budget comes months after the council approved mid-year adjustments to the city’s current budget in which a youth coordinator position was added and $500,000 was re-directed toward street repair as the city attempts to address growing pothole issues throughout Vallejo.
The city council is expected to approve the budget on May 24.
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John Glidden worked as a journalist covering the city of Vallejo for more than 10 years. He left journalism in 2023 and currently works in the office of Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown.
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