The City of Fresno is looking for new ways to close a $4 million budget gap. Last week it rejected the Fresno Police Officer Association’s concession offer. The F.P.O.A. agreed to $5.7 million worth of concessions but wanted another year added to its contract in return. The city says that option would have cost the city more money in the end.
Using several posters, jam-packed with numbers, the City of Fresno illustrates a complicated financial problem, but communicates a simple message on Monday morning.
“We can no longer afford contract extensions. We simply can not afford it,” said Ashley Swearengin, Fresno Mayor.
The city asked the F.P.O.A. to make concessions to close a $4 million budget gap. Last Friday, union members voted for the concessions, but only if it could extend its contract one more year to 2016.
“I'm personally offended that leadership of F.P.O.A. would put an offer to their members that wasn't on the table,” said Larry Westerlund, a member of the Fresno City Council.
The president of the union said the city shouldn’t expect to get something for nothing.
“If you were to ask us our perspective, what the city put on the table, would have never been on the table from our perspective, right? Just asking us for money with nothing in return,” said Jacky Parks of the F.P.O.A.
With about 750 officers, the city says 50% of the general fund is being spent on just 25% of city employees. Adding another year to the contract could eventually put the city in the hole $10 million.
“At this point we're not going to worry about trying to negotiate further. If there's an opportunity, of course we'll be receptive to it, but we have to move forward,” said Fresno City Manager, Mark Scott.
In the future, the city could borrow money from itself, an option the city manager admits is not ideal. But, he says, the City of Fresno will not declare a fiscal emergency.