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San Diego Gets $9 Million Revenue Windfall

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Aired 5/20/11

San Diego will have about $9 million more to work with in the coming budget year.

— More than one-third of the increased revenue, $3.4 million, comes from hotel taxes, which brought in more than expected. Mayor Jerry Sanders said he’d like the money to go toward keeping recreation centers open 40 hours a week. He also wants to scale back the cuts to libraries he previously proposed. Under his new proposal, all eight council districts would have at least one library branch open 36 hours a week. The remaining branches would still see their hours cut to about 18 a week.

San Diego has a structural budget deficit, meaning it spends more money than it takes in. Sanders has pledge to fix that problem before he leaves officer at the end of 2012. But he said San Diego will likely always be subject to the rise and fall of property-, sales- and hotel-tax revenues without a more stable funding source.

"We don’t have a tax on utilities; we don’t have a cell-phone tax; we don’t have a property-transfer tax that’s large, like most cities. And I don’t anticipate in the future we’ll see that," he said.

Sanders fought for an increase in the sales tax last fall (Proposition D) to give the city a steadier stream of revenue, but voters rejected the idea. He said San Diego must be careful to not overspend the money it does bring in, especially in years when revenues are relatively high.

The City Council still has to weigh in on the mayor's revised budget plan. Several council members have presented their own plans which call for full funding of city libraries.

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