By Johnny Flores,
Coachella, Calif. — The city of Coachella has approved its 2012-13 fiscal year budget, which will increase funding for public safety without incurring any lay-offs.
“Through a spike in sales tax and user utility tax which funds police, there was an increase in revenue. Using this revenue, we increased public safety which is really needed,” said Mayor Eduardo Garcia, when asked how the city increased its public safety without any layoffs
The new budget will go into effect July 1. This new fiscal budget will not dip into reserves.
The $15.58 million budget was officially approved on May 23 by the Coachella City Council. The budget covers salaries and all city services, such as police and fire salaries, as well as new summer programs. These new summer programs include movie nights, basketball camps, and swimming lessons.
Most notable changes of this new budget are the addition of a police officer and an increase in funding for police overtime. It also includes the addition of a fire department paramedic unit, an elimination of furloughs, an employee merit raise increase program and finally a removal of a hiring freeze.
“The city will not be open on Fridays, the union voted and the final decision is to have extended hours Monday through Thursday and still leave Friday closed,” said Mayor Garcia. “As for the Senior Center, it will remain open Monday through Friday.”
This new budget allows more protection for the streets of Coachella, as well as more work days for those who take furlough days.
“I am happy that the budget allows for one more police officer. However, I believe that the city, because of its growth, requires more law enforcement to enforce security so in the end there would be less vandalism in our streets,” said Irma Martinez, a Coachella resident. “With the addition of a police officer and more overtime for current officers, I feel that the city is on a better track to keeping the citizens safer.”
In addition, a $34 million dollar capital improvement program, a $5 million dollar sanitary district, a $5.5 million dollar water authority and a $2.4 million dollar fire protection district have all been approved as a part of the new 2012-13 budget.