Sacramento Committee Approves Spending Plan — But Some Feel Left Out

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SACRAMENTO -- Tuesday, Sacramento's $1.2 billion budget was approved by a committee and passed on for a council vote in just a few minutes.

The debate over how some extra budget dollars and Measure U money will be spent went on for almost four hours.

Many of the 106 people who spoke before Sacramento's Budget and Audit Committee meeting expressed their thanks.

However, people in Districts 1 and 3 said they were left out of a $16 million spending plan.

"If you're going to talk about equity, equity isn't achieved when somebody is left out," said Councilman Jeff Harris of District 3.

A priority list was put forth by Mayor Darrell Steinberg for how to spend some of Sacramento's unusual budget carryover and Measure U tax money in the fiscal year ahead.

"It doesn't include 120,000 people," said District 1 Councilwoman Angelique Ashby, who represents Natomas. "It's very difficult when you're one of those 120,000 people to feel valued."

It's been publicly debated that the divvying up of dollars was done in retaliation for publicized critiques by council representatives Harris and Ashby of some of the mayor's funding ideas.

When asked about any retaliation, Mayor Steinberg said, "No, I represent the people of Natomas. No."

The big issue for Ashby in Natomas is the $14 million for an aquatic center and five years of work that could be lost without fast help. The district is putting up the rest of the $32 million needed for a project that the mayor described as not "yet cooked, frankly."

In the end, with promises from the mayor to work side funding packages for Districts 1 and 3 in the next three months, Ashby was on the "yes" side of the 8-1 vote on the mayor's priority list. The District 1 councilwoman said she made that decision "because we're included."

Of the $50 million due to come into city coffers thanks to Measure U, $40 million was set aside Tuesday for projects in underserved communities and to repay bonds in those areas.

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