Budget adoption on Merced council agenda

Whether to adopt the $194 million budget will likely be the focus of Monday’s Merced City Council meeting.

A budget study session is set to begin at 5 p.m. at City Hall, 678 W. 18th St. The session is followed by the regular meeting of the council, during which the proposed budget could be adopted.

The budget includes $34.5 million in the general fund to pay for police, fire, recreation and other discretionary services, as well as $6.2 million from Measure C sales taxes.

Youth advocates, who have called for extra money for services for young people, have organized a final push with those who support their cause. The group is scheduled to hold a 4 p.m. demonstration at Bob Hart Square, which is located on West Main Street near Canal Street.

The youth advocates have been asking for the extra money for many months, and pooled their resources to run the Invest in Our Youth campaign announced in April. Several nonprofits that work with young people teamed for that effort.

Advocates say services that keep young people busy and give them job skills will pay off by decreasing crime and improving opportunities for them. Members of the council have said more activities are needed, but have not agreed on how deep into the city’s pockets they should dig to fund more services.

Any additional money reprogrammed for youth would require trade-offs from other department budgets. Years of cutbacks have left many of the city’s departments with little room to find money, city staff has said, and other departments running deficits.

The budget is posted on the city’s website, There is time scheduled for public comments on the budget during the study session and the regular meeting.

A closed session is also planned to discuss the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s threatened lawsuit related to creating City Council election districts. The council has approved a plan to put district elections on the November ballot.

City Council meetings are also streamed live on the Internet; a link is at Comcast’s Government Channel 96 will broadcast the meeting live.