SD Police Chief Outlines Possible Cuts If Prop D Fails
Thursday, October 7, 2010
What will or will not happen to public safety in San Diego is at the heart of the debate over a proposed sales tax on the November ballot. Now the police department is weighing in.
SAN DIEGO What will or will not happen to public safety in San Diego is at the heart of the debate over a proposed sales tax on the November ballot. Now the police department is weighing in.
The half-cent sales tax would generate more than $500 million for San Diego over a five year period. But city departments are being asked to propose budget cuts in the event Proposition D fails. The police department has been asked to cut nearly $16 million.
Whether the city council will actually follow those through on those cuts is still up for debate. But Police Chief William Lansdowne said the department would take a huge hit.
“It means that very essences of what I just talked about, the safety net for the city of San Diego becomes injured,” he said.
221 total votes. (This poll is now closed.)
Lansdowne said he’d have to eliminate 200 positions, including 162 sworn officers, close two police stations and cut other services.
The city’s fire department said it could lay off 60 firefighters and idle five more engines in an effort to cut more than $7 million from its budget.
But critics of the sales tax say cutting public safety isn’t the only option. TJ Zane is President of the Lincoln Club of San Diego County. He’s leading the effort to oppose Prop. D. He said it’s not accurate to say voters can either have a tax increase or cuts to public safety services.
“The fact of the matter remain there’s cuts elsewhere throughout the budget that can be made that can accommodate the budgetary needs of the fire and police department,” Zane said.
Critics of the tax say there aren’t enough votes on the city council to approve cuts to public safety. Public safety expenses account for about half of the city’s billion dollar operating budget.
Also, small business leaders from around San Diego rallied Wednesday against the tax. Kelly Rudiger is a real estate agent in San Diego. She said selling San Diego to prospective clients is getting more difficult.
“It’s a hard sell when we’re looking at our financial situation with the city,” she said. “I’m playing that ambassador. I’m trying my hardest to keep a straight face but I have to oppose this at this point.”
Thursday the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce is scheduled to announce whether it will endorse the tax increase. Supporters of the measure have been working to win that endorsement.