by Linda Mumma

STOCKTON (CBS13) — Four years after pulling itself out of bankruptcy, the city of Stockton now has a surplus of approximately $3 million. Now they’re figuring out what to do with that money.

With the winter months quickly approaching, homelessness is a huge issue in Stockton.

This week, the Stockton City Council approved spending $200,000 in emergency funds to accommodate about 100 additional people at two separate homeless shelters in town. The council also allocated an additional $65,000 to buy a mobile bathroom and shower unit to place somewhere downtown.

“It’s a main priority. It’s top of mind of every resident, leader,” Councilmember Jesus Andrade said. “This is the first step of multiple steps we want to take.”

Councilmember Andrade said the city plans to spend about half of its $3 million surplus on addressing the homeless issue. Additionally, he says they want to deal with economic development projects, cleanup, tree removal, and various other city projects.

In 2012 Stockton became one of the largest cities in America to file for bankruptcy. We wanted to know if setting aside half of its $3 million surplus to a rainy day fund is smart planning. University of the Pacific business professor Dr. Lewis Gale says the answer will depend on who you ask.

“It depends on where you live. If you live in the center of Stockton, priorities to you may be different to you than those that live in outer Stockton,” Gale said.

He says, right now, the city looks to be financially sound and was just recognized last year for being fiscally responsible.

“The fact that the city of Stockton has rainy day fund built up on reserve, is certainly better than the position they were in eight or nine years ago,” Gale said.

He believes the city could do a better job of being transparent about their priorities so people are more aware.

“The first step is putting some funds away to provide services and be able to chip away at the homeless issue so that one day, we have less people sleeping outside overnight,” he said.

The city council says the remaining $1.2 million will be used for council priorities which will be decided at a later meeting.

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