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Roundtable: City Budget News, Fairgrounds Board Views, Water Users’ Dues

Guests: Scott Lewis, CEO,

Ricky Young, watchdog editor, U-T San Diego

Jonathan Horn, reporter, U-T San Diego


City Budget: Mayor Jerry Sanders made a surprise announcement Thursday that the city's structural budget deficit has been resolved and that the city would end the fiscal year with a $16.5 million surplus. He says he wants to increase library hours to 40 hours a week and park and recreation hours to 55 per week. He also wants to increase the size of the next Police Academy class and replace the city's aging fire-warning system.

Unspent Utility Funds: San Diego utility officials began a series of rate hikes in 2007 in order to spend a billion dollars on water and sewer system upgrades. This year, the city's Public Utilities Department reports completing 39 of 111 promised projects. Water and sewer accounts contain over a half-billion dollars in unspent funds from the rate increases and bond proceeds. Officials say they are behind on some projects because they were unable to access the bond market when the city was in fiscal trouble and because they lacked in-house engineering expertise. The department promised to spend $585 million on capital improvements by 2011, but spent just $372 million.

Fairgrounds Board: Gov. Jerry Brown replaced five members of the board that oversees the Del Mar Fairgrounds. One new member, Tom Chino, of Chino Farms, an open-meeting advocate, released a critical state audit noting improper payments to employees and other violations. Chino resigned last week, apparently in protest over lack of openness and board inquiries into conflict-of-interest allegations directed at Chino’s lawyer. The board also settled a dispute with the California Coastal Commission that involved big financial penalties and giving up land used for overflow parking.

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