Mayor Filner's Budget Revise Addresses Some Council, IBA Concerns
Mayor Bob Filner Tuesday released his May revisions to his City of San Diego budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, in which he anticipates having $13.6 million more to spend than initially expected.
The increase is the result of continued growth in property tax revenue, tobacco settlement income and a budget surplus anticipated when the current fiscal year ends on June 30, according to the mayor. He issued his revisions in a memo to City Council members.
"Revenue projections are up slightly, mirroring the improving economic conditions in the region and the state,'' Filner said. "This is good news because in addition to having a balanced budget, we can put more money into fixing streets and sidewalks, adding more lifeguards and police personnel, and ensuring that there is a year-round shelter for our homeless veterans.''
Nearly $11 million of the increase will be available for the city's general fund, which pays for basic services like fire and police protection, libraries and recreation centers, Filner said.
Spending increases will include $600,000 to fund a year-round shelter for military veterans, which is currently open only during the colder months; $1 million extra to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department to defray higher fuel costs; increases of around a half-million dollars or so to the Human Resources, Transportation & Stormwater and Police departments; and nearly $300,000 to re-hire two full-time lifeguards.
He restored $925,000 of a $1.4 million proposed cut to the office of City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, a reduction critics contended was politically motivated.
Filner also proposed funding needs assessments for city facilities, including in the Parks and Recreation Department. City Council members and city staff said the studies were a critical part of trying to catch up on a backlog of maintenance projects estimated to be around $1 billion.
City Council President Todd Gloria said the revisions reflect the panel's priorities.
"Upon reviewing the original budget proposal, the City Council provided input and asked questions based on the priorities of our constituents, and I'm glad to see so many of our concerns addressed by the mayor," Gloria said.
"The May Revise more closely reflects the will of the City Council to better serve San Diegans.''
He said he hopes to hear more details on some issues, including the mayor's plan to reduce vehicle traffic in the center of Balboa Park.
Filner noted that it has been about one month since he released his initial proposal.
"During that time, I've listened to the City Council members who relayed constituent concerns to me and who have had a significant impact on these revisions,'' Filner said. "I've included money for a lifeguard academy, two police dispatchers, an investigator and a criminal analyst and $600,000 to make sure there is a year-round shelter for homeless veterans.''
Further changes could occur if the city reaches a deal with its six employee unions on a five-year labor deal. Filner has pushed for that since he began campaigning for office.
The overall spending plan totals $2.75 billion.
The revisions are scheduled to be presented to the City Council at a special meeting Wednesday at 6 p.m. A City Council vote on the budget is scheduled for June 10, according to Gloria.
Update: According to Assistant City Attorney Mary Jo Lanzafame, "although it appears as if the Mayor restored $925,000 of the $1.4 million proposed cuts to our (City Attorney) department's budget, closer scrutiny reveals that the funds that were added are restricted: They can only be used to pay for enforcement efforts regarding consumer and environmental protection ... if the council allows this to stand, some reductions in service will be necessary to balance the department's budget."