San Diego Mayor’s First Budget Emphasizes Neighborhood Services, Public Safety
Originally published April 15, 2013 at 6 a.m., updated April 16, 2013 at 1:52 p.m.
Todd Gloria, San Diego City Council President, District 3
Kevin Faulconer, San Diego City Councilman, District 2
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner released his first budget proposal Monday. He aims to increase spending for neighborhood services and public safety.
What would you change about the city budget? Would you add services like more police officers or library hours, or would you make cuts to programs like public art or free bus passes? Tell us what you think San Diego should be spending its money on.
The biggest proposed spending increases include $3.2 million for repairs to capitol projects like streets and water pipes, $2.4 million to run the new downtown Central Library, $1.6 million for arts programs, $1.3 million for the Emergency Winter Homeless Shelter and $1.2 million for additional police recruits.
However, the biggest spending bump, $33 million, goes to payment into the city's retirement system. A report from the city's Independent Budget Analyst last year said it would cost the city $21.6 million to implement a voter-approved pension reform program.
Filner's general fund spending overall would be $1.2 billion, an increase of 3.1 percent from the previous year. His budget proposal would add the equivalent of about 38 full-time city employees.
The budget proposes savings through the removal of $8.3 million in one-time deferred capital operations and maintenance funding from last year and a $6.6 million cut to the Public Liability Fund, which funds claims made against the city, and a $4.9 million reduction in information technology spending. The City Council voted last May to end a 30-year relationship with the IT company Data Processing Corp., which was expected to save money. However, Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone said at the time that the transition would cost $6 million from the general fund for this coming year.
Filner's budget also cuts $1.4 million from the City Attorney's office, equivalent to 13 jobs. City Attorney Jan Goldsmith has engaged in numerous public clashes with Filner.
In a prepared statement, Goldsmith said a supplemental document to the proposed budget shows Filner identified specific employees in the City Attorney’s Office who should be laid off, including Andrew Jones, who holds the number two management position in the office.
"While we understand the Mayor has made public statements to the effect that specific cuts to the City Attorney’s budget would be up to the City Attorney, those statements don’t explain why the Mayor has taken the unusual step of identifying people by name to be laid off and eliminating their job positions," Goldsmith's statement said. "We are certainly willing to work with the City Council on our budget, as we have each year. But, if we need to reduce our budget, we will not allow the Mayor to decide who gets laid off. Under the City Charter, we are an independent office and we will make those decisions."
At a press conference with reporters Monday morning, Filner said the attorney cut is "not a major thing" and said that Goldsmith can adjust his spending so he doesn't have to eliminate jobs.
In a prepared statement, City Council President Todd Gloria said the cut to the City Attorney's Office was "curious and unlikely to be implemented as proposed given the Council’s preference to limit the use of outside counsel.”
City Councilman Kevin Faulconer also released a statement criticizing the budget.
“Instead of continuing with fiscal discipline, accountability and fully implementing voter-approved managed competition, Mayor Filner’s proposed budget repeats the mistakes of City Hall’s past," the statement said. "The Mayor’s budget further delays critically needed street repair projects yet increases other government spending for years into the future by raiding the City’s savings accounts and gambling our stability on future revenue growth.”
Filner told KPBS Midday Edition last week another way he wants to save money is to sign a five-year agreement with city employees instead of a one-year agreement.
"If we do that, we save $25 million instantly," he said.
Before he left office, former Mayor Jerry Sanders predicted a $2 million surplus for the coming year's budget, Fiscal Year 2014. But Filner's budget shows the city facing a $38.4 million deficit.
Filner is scheduled to present his budget proposal to the City Council tomorrow.