Mayor Faulconer Proposes $3.2 Billion Budget For San Diego
Standing on the grass at a southeastern San Diego park, Mayor Kevin Faulconer highlighted the community’s need for certain city services.
"Families want safe neighborhoods and all people of all ages want and deserve the opportunity to succeed,” he said at Skyline Hills Community Park. "But yet here in Skyline, it takes too long for a firefighter to arrive when there’s an emergency, the park gets too dark at night, inviting crime and safety challenges, and the playground behind us has seen better days."
The mayor on Monday proposed a $3.2 billion fiscal 2016 budget to address some of these neighborhood issues. Faulconer's draft spending plan would expand operating hours at the city's 16 busiest recreation centers from 45 to 60 hours a week, boost police and fire personnel, upgrade playgrounds, install better lighting, and improve preschool and teen programs.
"These are real improvements that you can see, you can hear, you can feel," the mayor said. "And that's what this budget is all about."
It also includes paying for the repair of 300 miles of streets. The mayor has made a goal of repaving 1,000 miles of roadways over the next five years, and he's set aside $49.2 million in a bond issue to pay some of the cost.
"San Diegans will see more street repairs, better parks and more equality to neighborhood services, so your community is thriving no matter where you live,” he said standing among city employees and elected officials.
The proposed budget, which would go into effect July 1, also builds on the city's activities of the current year by increasing broadband Internet access at libraries, expanding an after- school study program at libraries in communities with low test scores, staffing a new fire station in Mission Valley and a temporary fire facility in Skyline, adding more neighborhood code enforcement officers and updating nine community zoning plans.
Faulconer proposed a $2.97 billion budget at this time last year. The upcoming year's number will be higher because of across-the-board revenue increases, according to the mayor's office.
The city is projecting a 4.25 percent hike in property tax income, 4 percent for sales taxes, 5.5 percent in hotel room taxes and 2 percent for franchise fees — which are paid for by companies like San Diego Gas & Electric and Cox.
Chief Financial Officer Mary Lewis said the increased revenues are thanks to a growing economy.
“As the economy recovered out of the recession, the city’s general fund revenue grew at a rate that was higher and faster than the historical average,” she said. “Moderate revenue growth is where we are now and that’s projected to continue,” she said.
Lewis said the current growth is “at a slower pace than what we had experienced during the recovery period following the recession."
Council President Sherri Lightner said the budget returns some services that were slashed during rough financial times.
"After years of sacrifices on the part of our residents, communities and city staff, it's encouraging to see a budget that continues to provide essential services such as public safety and infrastructure, and restores recreation center and library hours and other city programs," council President Sherri Lightner said.
The draft budget will be formally presented to the City Council Tuesday afternoon. The council members will hold hearings on the budget in May and vote on a final document in June.