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Council President Todd Gloria Plays KPBS Budget Game

Todd Gloria Plays KPBS Budget Game
Council President Todd Gloria Plays KPBS Budget Game
City Council President Todd Gloria wishes designing a budget was as easy as playing the KPBS Budget Game.

City Council President Todd Gloria wishes designing a budget was as easy as playing the KPBS Budget Game.

What would you change about the city budget? Click here to play.
Everything you need to follow the news and understand what's in the city of San Diego's fiscal 2016 budget.

KPBS designed the game to help San Diegans better understand how their city spends its money.

Gloria sits in his council office playing the game. He decides to cut studies of whether to bring taxi and ambulance administration in house. He ends the city’s Qualcomm stadium subsidy and uses that money to better fund fixing up roads.

“So I’ve got a little bit of surplus already just from two clicks! Look at that!" Gloria exclaims.


"If only I could vote all on my own," he jokes. "But it takes a council majority."

Gloria also funds more studies on the condition of the city’s buildings and sidewalks and decides to end free trash pickup for single family homeowners, although he points out this would really take a public vote.

“As someone who actually pays for trash collection, it would be interesting to see what that would do in terms of our budget," he says. "If you did it, it creates a massive budget surplus which you could put into road repairs.”

Gloria objects to the game item that allows him to increase fire department funding to meet the recommendations of an independent Citygate report, because he says that funding wouldn't come all in one year.

But he likes the game's illustration of the cost of increasing library hours.

"I think if citizens understood what a bargain library hours are, I mean $3 million to add an additional four hours at branch libraries, I mean I’m still working with a pretty decent surplus," he says. "I think this tool is valuable for that reason. When I talk to constituents and say a library is roughly $300,000 a year, for a full year. I think that’s somewhat reasonable and really illustrates that we do run a lean operation."

Gloria says the game is a simplified version of the complex budget process. But, he says playing it is a good way to understand the budget on a small scale.

“I would encourage people to use the tool. It gives you a sense of the tradeoffs that we have," he says. "Do you prioritize tree trimming or fire response, or community plans? There are so many needs in a city our size, we can never satisfy all of them. Our hope is we can satisfy a majority of them, and just keep the city moving in a forward direction.”

The City Council is tentatively scheduled to vote on a final budget on June 10.