Ashby Balances Natomas Service Cuts

When it comes to Sacramento’s budget process, Councilwoman Angelique Ashby faces the challenge of balancing the needs of her community with what the city can afford.

The bulk of Ashby’s constituents reside in Natomas where proposed budget cuts will likely impact everything from police and fire coverage to library services.

“I am trying very hard to strike that balance,” said Ashby, who also represents a portion of downtown and Old Sacramento. “The choices have gotten tougher.”

One way Ashby has been able to “plug” the holes created by proposed cuts to public safety, parks and recreation programs is her use of District One’s discretionary money. This money is not part of the general fund and can only be spent in District One.

Recently, Ashby resurrected the Summer Oasis Program for elementary school-age youngsters in Natomas. The popular day camp has suffered cut backs in recent years and was slated to be eliminated entirely this summer.

After hearing from several Natomas families, Ashby decided to allocate $10,000 for a single Summer Oasis site at Regency Park starting next week. Regency Park was picked because it has been the most-used Summer Oasis site in Natomas the past three years, she said.

Public safety issues – such as levee upgrades, police and fire coverage – continue to be a priority for Ashby.

Earlier this year, she used some of that discretionary money to hire police officer John Banks to work on traffic safety around Natomas-area schools. And while the number of brown outs threaten to rise in coming months and fire Station No. 43 will not be equipped as planned, Ashby said the West Natomas station will open as scheduled this summer.

“We will have fire protection west of Interstate 5,” said Ashby.

Proposed cuts to other services in Natomas – such as libraries, community centers and pools – will likely be based on how much the community uses them.

For the second summer in a row, the Natomas High School swimming pool will only be used for paid programs. Doyle Pool on Mendel Way, however, will be open to the public because it is one of the top three most-used pools in the city.

Three community centers citywide, including the one located in South Natomas, are expected to remain open. The centers were chosen based on geographic area, how many people use the facility and the amount of revenue generated to help pay for programs.

When cuts are considered for libraries, hot mapping will be used to see what hours libraries are used most and changes suggested accordingly.

Ashby encouraged Natomas-area residents concerned about a particular city resource, program or entity to contact her office during the budget process.

“I am more than interested in hearing what anybody has to say,” she said. “People should be aware, cuts being proposed to public safety are sweeping and would have an impact on the city and increase crime.”

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