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San Diego Budget Deficits Could Be Bigger Than Mayor Planned

San Diego Independent Budget Analyst Andrea Tevlin sits at the dais, Dec. 12,...

Photo by Milan Kovacevic

Above: San Diego Independent Budget Analyst Andrea Tevlin sits at the dais, Dec. 12, 2016.

San Diego Budget Deficits Could Be Bigger Than Mayor Planned

GUEST:

Andrea Tevlin, independent budget analyst, City of San Diego

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Independent Budget Analyst's Review of Mayor Faulconer's Five-Year Financial Outlook

Independent Budget Analyst's Review of Mayor Faulconer's Five-Year Financial Outlook

San Diego's Independent Budget Analyst found Mayor Kevin Faulconer's office may have understated deficits in its five-year financial outlook.

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San Diego’s budget shortfalls over the next five years may be deeper than previously identified by the mayor’s office, according to a recent report from the city’s independent budget analyst.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office prepared a five-year financial outlook last month, finding that spiking pension costs in fiscal year 2018 would lead to two years of deficits. He asked city departments to prepare for budget cuts of 3.5 percent to help mitigate the shortfalls.

But Independent Budget Analyst Andrea Tevlin found the mayor’s outlook left out some key costs that would likely increase those deficits and extend them two more years. The city usually factors in projected expenses for mayoral priorities that are likely to be included in the upcoming budget, according to Tevlin.

In last month’s outlook, the mayor’s office briefly discussed those critical future expenses, but didn’t factor them into the final deficit calculations. That included $47 million to service future bonds, $23 million to replace city vehicles and more than $17 million for new police officers and equipment.

“As a result, the deficits reported for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 are likely understated, and the surpluses identified in fiscal years 2020-2022 may not exist as projected,” Tevlin’s report said.

The city had expected a $37 million budget shortfall in 2018. Projected revenue increases were planned to help cut down that shortfall in future years. The budget would then have a $20 million shortfall in fiscal year 2019, then a $500,000 surplus in 2020, a $40 million surplus in 2021 and an $80 million surplus in 2022, according to city projections.

But Tevlin’s office said the 2018 deficit could be as high as $57 million. The deficits would then shrink to as much as $52 million in 2019, $46 million in 2020, and $23 million in 2021. Fiscal year 2022 could see a $15 million surplus.

A Faulconer spokesman told The San Diego Union-Tribune that Tevlin’s report underscored the importance of cutting expenses in the coming years.

Tevlin joins KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday with more on her findings and what it means for city services.

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