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Work Begins To Close $57 Million Deficit in S.D.

Editor's Note: A radio-broadcast of this story incorrectly reported a plan to charge for trash pick-up. KPBS regrets the error.

— The mayor traditionally starts the process by presenting his budget. But Council President Tony Young wanted the council to take a more pro-active role in the process this year. To that end the council approved a resolution calling on the mayor to consider 23 money saving options in his budget. They range from charging for false fire alarms to outsourcing trash collection. Young says the resolution makes the council’s intentions clear.

“This is the council saying this is our budget, too,” he said. “This is something we can do … under the City Charter, which states that we have a strong-mayor, strong-council form of government.”

Young said he expects some of the items will be included in the mayor’s budget, but doesn’t know which. The council has the opportunity to add items to the budget as the process continues. The resolution was passed unanimously but not all members agreed with everything it contained. Councilman Carl DeMaio objected to possible fee increases.

“I will just go on record as letting you know that I will not vote for a final budget that includes revenue increases in this bad economy,” he said. The council has the ability to modify the budget as the process continues. Young estimates the list of options could save San Diego about $40 million in the coming year.

Before Tuesday’s budget talks, DeMaio released his annual report on pension payouts. He found more than 480 city retirees are receiving total pensions of more than $100,000 a year. He says 73 percent of those retirees are from the city’s public-safety departments. DeMaio is joining Mayor Jerry Sanders and Councilman Kevin Faulconer in supporting a ballot initiative to eliminate pensions for all new hires, excluding police officers.

Union leaders say they have already made significant salary and pension concessions. Frank DeClercq, with the firefighters union, said his members have agreed to a salary freeze and compensation reduction for the past three years. They have also agreed to less-generous pension benefits for new hires.

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