Watsonville is like every other city that has to pass a budget. Costs must be calculated with a fine-tooth comb. In the end a decision on what to fund needs to be determined by its leaders. I understand this concept, not only as a person who needs to balance my own funds, but also someone who for four years had to approve the city’s budget. This responsibility comes with great pressure because every division and funded entity feels their needs are of utmost importance.
With rising pension costs and possibility of losing Measure G funding, the certainty of deep cuts into our city’s services is imminent. It is heartbreaking to see one of the cuts is the Police Activities League program. Moving the budget entirely over to Measure G funding is risky. The last time the voters were faced with the public safety measure, it barely passed by about 60 votes. Now crime is at an all time low. People view Watsonville as one of the safest places to live in the county. Thus, we are seeing an influx of North County residents moving into our community. I am afraid people will feel there is not a need for the tax when it comes up again for a vote. If that happens we will lose a program that is so important to the community.
I have personally worked with the Police Activities League when I was a city council member and have stayed connected with them to this day. They offer amazing after-school programs for kids, boxing, self-defense programs, martial arts, community movie nights, camping trips and fun community activities such as Easter, Halloween, Back 2 School and National Night Out events. They also have a heartwarming “Shop-with-a-Cop” dinner and evening at Target for families in need during the holidays. Organizations like the Police Activities League are reasons why crime is down. We have placed a lot of emphasis on prevention. This is key to creating a safe community. A lot of hard work and collaboration has gone into making Watsonville safe. To see this funding be thrown into the fate of whether Measure G passes is presumptuous and jeopardous.
It is my hope that the city council reconsiders its actions to place this program’s fate in a measure that may or may not pass. I would encourage them to restructure the budget in order to cover some of the Police Activity League’s employee’s salaries. Minimal program services can function with some staff. This could also give them the opportunity to figure out different funding, whether it is through grants or private donations. My fear is that these cuts could be devastating to this program and all of our hard work in prevention would be out the window. We need to continue moving our community forward and keeping it safe. Please protect this great organization.e
Contact former Watsonville Mayor Pro-Tem and City Council Member Jimmy Dutra at [email protected] His opinions are his own and not necessarily those of the Register-Pajaronian.