Monday, May 6, 2013
This week, the San Diego City Council will begin reviewing Mayor Bob Filner’s initial budget proposal, department by department.
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.
REVIEW OF THE FISCALYEAR 2014 PROPOSED BUDGET
Today, the city's Independent Budget Analyst Andrea Tevlin will present her report on the budget. In it, she addresses Filner's attempt to handle a $38.4 million deficit. This gap comes from the loss of redevelopment funds and the extra costs of implementing voter-approved pension reform.
To help balance things, Filner suggests using $23.7 million in one-time funds, including $21.6 million in settlement money from an SDG&E lawsuit.
"The reliance on one-time solutions to balance the budget is a concern," Tevlin's report states. Because that money will not be available next year, the next budget could have to cut services to remain balanced.
The IBA report proposes alternative ways for the city to make more money without the use of these one-time funds, including using $1.1 million from the Street Damage Fund and increasing the Redevelopment Property Tax Trust Fund revenue from $3.1 million to $5.2 million.
City Council President Todd Gloria said the council won’t like using one-time funds, but also could accept it as necessary.
“We may have no choice but to use those one-time funds, and I think a majority of the council may be willing to do that as a stop gap measure for these unusual events that are really one-time events," he said. "But it has to be contingent on it not being a pattern of practice in the city again, because that’s what got us into trouble in the first place.”
The IBA report says "the most significant and concerning budget reduction" is Filner’s decision to delay issuing $80 million in deferred capital bonds from the Spring of Fiscal Year 2013 to January 2014, which would also bump back all subsequent bond issuances. The budget also cuts operations and maintenance funding by $1 million.
This money is used to address postponed repairs to the city's infrastructure, including roads, sidewalks and water pipes.
"Since we are not at the desired funding level and the City’s goal is to ramp up infrastructure funding in the future as soon as is practical and affordable, it is imperative that the City stay on course and not backtrack on current funding plans," the IBA report states.
Today's discussions will also focus on the individual budgets for the police, fire, parks and recreation and library departments. While Filner's budget proposes adding 16 new police officers, Gloria said there's concern that "there’s not adequate addition of civilian employees to back up police officers."
Talks on the parks and recreation budget will also include the mayor’s plan to remove cars from Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama. Gloria said that discussion may be the council's only chance to weigh in on the plan.