CHICO, Calif. - The Chico City Council is working out a spending plan for the year ahead.
The City is looking at spending a large amount of the proposed budget on public safety, which would lead to adding on more police officers and firefighters.
Chico City Manager Mark Orme said the total proposed budget for the next fiscal year is $143 million. Of that, the general fund would consist of $56 million.
About half of that would go towards The Chico Police Department. 25% would go towards The Chico Fire Department.
This would give those departments an opportunity to grow and add more positions to help provide more services to the community, Orme said. The rest of the proposed budget, $87 million, would be used for things like roadwork and building improvements in the city.
The council will hear the proposed budget Tuesday night and provide feedback, staff will come back in June with a final plan.
The new fiscal year begins July 1.
Chico Fire Chief Steve Standridge also said he wants the city council to change the false alarm code passed a few years back.
The current code does not include collecting fines from certain public entities like Chico State. He said back in 2019 they responded to 282 false alarms at the University. That was more than 20% of all false alarms that year.
“When we are going on false alarms it takes us away from other calls of service that may be more critical in nature, but we’re still devoted to that call because we don’t know until we get there and assess the situation whether it's false or not,” said Chief Standridge. “So, the ability to lower the number of false fire alarms puts more resources available for calls.”
Standridge said responding to false fire alarms also puts firefighters at risk because of how fast they go to get to the potential emergency.
In a statement from Chico State, the University's Public Information Officer, Sean Murphy said:
“Chico State is aware of the item on tonight’s City Council agenda, and it is our understanding that, as a state entity, we are not responsible for these charges. The University has been and continues to be focused on educating and training our students about safety and responsibility on campus and working with the City of Chico to help reduce the number of calls—which is the University’s ultimate goal, regardless of costs.”
However, that could change if the council passes Standridge’s request.
The city enacted the code back in 2018 allowing the fire department to give fines for repeat fire alarms. There is no charge for the first fire alarm, the second is $100 and $200 for every time after that.
Chico City Manager Mark Orme said the council will be talking about the homeless crisis in a closed session but no word if they will reach a decision during Tuesday's meeting.
Orme did tell Action News Now that the council will discuss if it could use Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money to help solve the homelessness problem.
He also said the council will talk about the homeless shelter declaration and whether to extend it. It is set to expire next month.