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Public Weighs In On San Diego Budget At City Council

Above: City Council President Todd Gloria looks out at the people filling the San Diego City Council chambers for the public hearing on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

Aired 5/23/13 on KPBS News.

The San Diego City Council heard the public's thoughts on Mayor Bob Filner's proposed budget today.

More than 300 people turned out Wednesday night to share their thoughts on Mayor Bob Filner's proposed budget for the city of San Diego. People advocated for free bus passes for students, more bike lanes and increased library hours.

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The meeting gave people the chance to weigh in on the latest version of the Fiscal Year 2014 budget, according to City Council President Todd Gloria.

One by one, San Diego citizens filed up to the front of the City Council chambers. They had one minute to ask city leaders to spend money on their specific needs.

A group from the City Heights advocacy organization Mid-City CAN asked the council to support free bus passes for students. The current budget includes this funding, but only as a one-time expense for the 2014 budget. One student told the council she needs a free pass to have better attendance in school.

"I also support this project because the days my Mom is not able to provide transportation for me, I have to walk to school and I’m not comfortable walking in my neighborhood because I don’t feel safe," she said.

Sam Ollinger, the director of the advocacy group BikeSD, stressed the importance of sidewalks, bike lanes and streets. She said San Diegans need to be able to move around safely.

“As members of the San Diego community, we shouldn’t ignore an issue simply because it’s not in front of us," she said. "We should ensure that all communities have the basic infrastructure installed, and then maintained, including sidewalks, streetlights, so we can see and move safely on foot.”

She spoke as part of the Community Budget Alliance, which asked for more public outreach in the budget process.

Mayor Bob Filner also presented revisions to his original budget proposal, which include an extra $13.6 million in revenue.

While budget negotiations are difficult, he said the city is in a good position.

“This is a far more optimistic thing we’re arguing about, where are we restoring things rather than where are we cutting things,” he said.

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