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Politics

San Diego Council Members Voice Spending Priorities For 2017 Budget

Mason Leigh skateboards in front of a fountain at Balboa Park, June 2013.
Linda Leigh
Mason Leigh skateboards in front of a fountain at Balboa Park, June 2013.

San Diego Council Members Voice Spending Priorities For 2017 Budget
San Diego City Council members had few gripes with Mayor Kevin Faulconer's proposed $3.3 billion budget.
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San Diego City Council members voiced few gripes during their first chance to weigh in on Mayor Kevin Faulconer's proposed fiscal 2017 budget Tuesday.

The council will hold budget hearings on May 4, 5, 9 and 10, and then will vote on the $3.3 billion spending plan this June after the mayor revises it. A public budget hearing will also be held in the evening on May 16, although members of the public can comment at any of the budget meetings.

Faulconer was on a San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce trip to Mexico City, so his chief operating officer, Scott Chadwick, presented the budget to the council.

It includes $109 million for street repairs and $373 million to reduce the city's infrastructure backlog. It also includes an increase in the city's budget reserves, which will be hiked incrementally from 14 percent to 16.7 percent over the next several years.

The proposed spending plan would also expand hours at eight recreation centers from 45 to 60 hours a week, continue funding for a year-round homeless shelter, add more services for those with substance abuse issues, continue offering four academies in order to boost staffing at the San Diego Police Department and fund projects to implement the city's Climate Action Plan.

City Councilman Todd Gloria said he would reserve most of his comments for the budget hearings but did outline a few areas "that are not immediately obvious in the mayor's budget proposal."

He said if San Diego's minimum wage increase is approved by voters in June, the ordinance will need to be enforced. That would require additional funding, Gloria said.

Gloria also asked for more funding for facilities and maintenance in Balboa Park.

"To reinstate funding that was cut during the Great Recession," he said. "To ensure that Balboa Park is maintained in a manner fitting of its status as our city's crown jewel."

Last on his list — "at least for now," he said — was dedicated funding for outside legal counsel for the Citizens' Review Board on Police Practices.

"Which I believe is an investment in public trust," Gloria said.

Councilwoman Lorie Zapf praised the budget for boosting recreation center and library hours and continuing efforts in police recruiting. She also had a few requests, including more 911 dispatchers and more park rangers to patrol increased open space.

"I know we all had stuff in our budget memos that’s not on here, and we live with that every year," she said.