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Roundtable: Water rates, Port Plans, SDUSD Insolvency, Outsourcing Fire Protection

Aired 5/18/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Guests: Mark Sauer, Senior Editor, KPBS News

Katie Orr, Metro Reporter, KPBS News

Will Carless, Investigative Reporter, VoiceofSanDiego

Aaron Burgin, Watchdog Reporter, UT-San Diego

Transcript

Water Rates Going Up? - The San Diego County Water Authority this week proposed a 9.6 percent increase in the cost of water to its 24 member agencies to take effect in 2013. The authority said the increases were driven by a five-percent rate increase in rates for water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the cost of its own investments in Imperial Valley water. The Water Authority Board is scheduled to hold a public hearing and vote on the proposal at its June 28, 2012 meeting.

Plans For The Port: Nathan Fletcher is the latest mayoral candidate to release his plan for the Port of San Diego. He calls for increasing the region’s exports by $5 billion by 2020 and increasing the port’s Navy and Marine Corps presence. He opposes using the port for any other projects, including building a Chargers’ stadium.

All four major candidates for Mayor of San Diego have talked about their plans for the Port. Bob Filner's plan calls for increased usage of the port for commerce. He wants San Diego to become the regional leader among the port's five member cities.

Bonnie Dumanis notes that there are many layers of oversight the city has to deal with involving Port land, including the State of California. She wants improved transportation in and around the Port and the airport. Carl DeMaio says he will conduct a performance review of the port and be very "hands-on" with San Diego's Port Commissioners.

Plans for Insolvency? - San Diego Unified Trustee Scott Barnett says the district is insolvent right now and should go ahead and declare itself so. He believes that because SDUSD cannot cut enough of its budget to get through the 2012-2013 school year, it should rescind the 1,600 layoffs already scheduled and roll back cuts already made. The resulting budget would be totally unsustainable, pushing the district into insolvency and the control of a state trustee. We look at his idea and at the fallout it has caused in district offices.

Meanwhile, outgoing San Diego Education Assn VP, Camille Zombro, posted a letter attacking the positions and leadership of current union officers, saying the union is on the verge of caving to district requests for deep wage and benefits concessions. We look at what affect this flame-throwing is having on any kind of budget resolution.

San Miguel Fire Outsources Its Mission - Because of years of on-going budget deficits, the San Miguel Consolidated Fire District has entered into a cooperative agreement with CAL FIRE to have the state agency manage the district. Many East County residents are upset and fearful of losing control of their own fire protection.

The deficits have several causes: a drop in property tax revenue, lifetime health benefits for firefighters and their families, high salaries and expensive equipment purchases. We look at how things got so bad and why the district cannot balance its budget without taking this drastic step.

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