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San Diego’s $3.2 Billion Budget Approved By City Council

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The City Council unanimously adopted a $3.2 billion budget Monday for the fiscal year that starts July 1, while adding funding for arts and culture programs and Saturday hours at libraries.

The budget proposal issued by Mayor Kevin Faulconer almost two months ago already boosted the operating hours at the city's 16 busiest recreation centers from 45 to 60. A subsequent amendment increased the number of affected centers to 36, thanks to improving revenue projections.

The mayor proposed $11.1 million in arts and culture funding, but last week Councilman David Alvarez called for an additional $1 million to get the city closer to meeting a funding formula the council agreed to three years ago.

The funding will now be $12.1 million — still short of the $16.7 million amount called for in the "Penny for the Arts" blueprint.

"I think it's really important that we keep that commitment," Alvarez said.

For libraries, 23 branches will receive funding needed to operate longer on Saturdays.

Council President Sherri Lightner said the budget "responsibly restores public safety and neighborhood services, and funds additional infrastructure while fully funding reserves."

When Faulconer issued his so-called "May Revise" last month, he called for the establishment of a $15 million reserve fund to stabilize the way the city contributes to its employee retirement fund.

Sometimes, depending in part on the performance of the investment portfolio held by the San Diego City Employees Retirement System, the city has to contribute far more to the pension fund than it did the year before. The mayor said his plan was to smooth out those spikes.

The council members didn't adopt his plan, but agreed to hold the money as excess equity until they can establish a pension reserve policy. Councilman Todd Gloria promised to have the proposal on the agenda of the Budget Committee, which he chairs, later this month.

The council also included in the budget $625,000 to design and conduct an environmental analysis on a proposed project to install sidewalks on a stretch of Market Street in Valencia that doesn't have any, even though it's close to a city library. The project, which will have a total cost of $4 million to complete, is a top priority for Councilwoman Myrtle Cole.

Another $453,000 will be spent to hire seven mechanics for the city's vehicle fleet.

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