Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin says the city is in the middle of a resilient economic recovery. But as FM89’s Joe Moore reports, her annual state of the city speech Wednesday afternoon also addressed some lingering problems.
In what could be her last such speech as Fresno’s mayor, Ashley Swearengin told the crowd at the Convention Center the economic cloud which has hovered over the city for the past five years is beginning to lift.
Swearengin: “As of this year, our budget will be balanced, our negative fund balance and our internal loans will be eliminated and our reserves will begin to grow toward healthy levels.”
But while the financial outlook may be improving, Swearengin cautioned against spending too much too soon, and said she would line item veto extra spending the city council added last week to next year’s budget.
She also used the speech to hammer the city’s fire fighters union, which on Tuesday held a protest outside city hall, over city plans to impose a new contract. The proposal would require employees to contribute more to their retirement and health plans, around $900,000 a year. Without the cuts Swearengin said other services would face reductions.
Swearengin: “Wwhile I completely understand the views of our fire union, our firefighters want more money, but our community needs more firefighters. “
Swearengin, who is running for state controller in November also used the speech to tout the city’s economic development and revitalization efforts, including an effort to speed up the city’s permitting process, and to turn the Fulton Mall back into Fulton Street. She said construction bids for that project should be awarded by the end of this year.