Faulconer Focuses On Infrastructure, Public Safety In 1st Budget Proposal
New Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Monday that his nearly $3 billion spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year contains a lot of good news for the city of San Diego.
A steadily improving economy gave the city about $35 million more in revenue from property, sales and hotel taxes, plus franchise fees. Faulconer proposes to spend more than half of that revenue on infrastructure and neighborhood repairs.
Some of his proposed expenses include:
- Storm Water Infrastructure & Drainage Projects, $7.4 million
- Sidewalk and street light improvements, $1.4 million
- Increased staffing for streets resurfacing and Regional Pothole Repair program, $400,000
- Expansion of library hours by four hours a week at branch libraries and five hours a week at the Central Library, $1.5 million
- New afterschool program at libraries, $500,000
- Community plan updates, $900,000
- Staffing for new Park & Recreation facilities, $800,000
- Storing all city emails, $500,000
- Open Data Officer to oversee open data policy, $200,000
Faulconer also wants to increase spending on public safety. He proposes:
- Funding for four police academies, increased in size from 34 to 43 recruits each, $4 million
- Raises for police officers to improve retention, $3.2 million
- 17 police civilian positions, $1.4 million
- Body cameras for police officers, $1 million
- Two additional fire fighter academies, $1.1 million
- Temporary Skyline Fire Station, $1 million
- Fire Department Fast Response Program, $600,000
"This budget will bring San Diegans more paved roads, more police on the beat, improved emergency response times when you call 911, more hours for our public safety, and more hours for programs at libraries and funding to bring City Hall into the digital age," Faulconer said at his budget presentation.
City Council President Todd Gloria, who said he oversaw some of the budget development while serving as interim mayor, said he will review the budget proposal more in depth, but is happy so far with what he's seen. He said he especially likes Faulconer's proposed spending on homelessness, which fits the reorganization of homeless spending Gloria suggested in his State of the City speech in January.
"What excites me most in this budget is it includes funding to better address homelessness with result-oriented programming that we know get people off the streets," Gloria said.
The budget proposes reallocating $1.9 million toward homeless services and programs, including:
- Adult winter shelter from November through March, $800,000
- Homeless management information system, $400,000
- San Diego Police Department's Serial Inebriate Program, $120,000
- San Diego Police Department's Homeless Outreach Team, $40,000
- Connections Housing, $300,000
Along with revenue growth, the budget also benefits from savings over last year, including $11.8 million in pension payment savings and $5 million from contracting out city services through managed competition. The budget proposes cutting $200,000 from the auditing department and the $700,000 Civic Innovation Lab, an urban development think tank started by former Mayor Bob Filner. Faulconer's staff said the money for the lab will be reallocated to community plan updates, and that city employees currently working for the lab will have the option of working on community plan updates instead.
While City Councilmembers Mark Kersey and Myrtle Cole joined Gloria in praising the budget proposal when it was unveiled, City Councilman David Alvarez said in a statement he is "disappointed" with what the budget leaves out.
"I've made clear my displeasure with the deficit in community and neighborhood parks throughout the City- especially in underserved communities," Alvarez's statement read. "With revenues anticipated to increase this year, at least one of these parks (Pacific Breezes Community Park, Riviera Del Sol Neighborhood Park, Hidden Trails Neighborhood Park) could have been fully funded and built which is something I’ll be looking to change in the FY15 Budget."
Alvarez ran unsuccessfully against Faulconer for mayor.
The $2.97 billion budget proposal will be presented on Tuesday to the City Council. The council will then hold a series of hearings from May 5 to May 9 to review the budgets of each city department. The council will also hold public hearings on the budget on May 19 and on June 9.
Faulconer must release a revised budget proposal by May 20. The council will then need to approve the budget before it takes effect July 1.