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San Diego City Council Approves Budget Appropriations Ordinance

The San Diego City Council meets, Dec. 5, 2016.

Photo by Susan Murphy

Above: The San Diego City Council meets, Dec. 5, 2016.

The City Council Monday took the final step in San Diego's unexpectedly contentious budgeting process for the fiscal year that begins Saturday, by approving an ordinance that delegates authorities for staff to administrate the 2017-18 spending plan.

Discussion on the Appropriations Ordinance, approved on an 8-1 vote, gave council members a last chance to vent their frustrations on a process that became politically charged near the end.

Councilman David Alvarez, who cast the dissenting vote, said the budget was "meddled by politically by the mayor." He contended that the final spending plan issued by Mayor Kevin Faulconer "was vindictive and very personal."

The council approved the $3.6 billion budget three weeks ago but redirected $5 million that had been earmarked for a November special election into other programs.

RELATED: Faulconer’s Controversial Budget Changes Stand After Council Override Votes Fail

The special ballot likely would have included two initiatives favored by the mayor — a convention center expansion and a proposed redevelopment of Qualcomm Stadium. The council didn't consider the convention center plan and pushed off the "Soccer City" proposal for Mission Valley to the November 2018 ballot.

Faulconer subsequently restored funding for the special election, and reduced office and programming dollars for council members Barbara Bry and Chris Ward — who were among the opponents of the special election plans.

Bry, who chairs the council's Budget Committee, said she hopes the office funding is restored for her and Ward, and that the mayor "releases the $5 million that is sitting in limbo for a special election that I believe will never happen."

Alvarez said he's looking forward to changes in the mayor's office. Aimee Faucett, chief operating officer of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, is taking over as Faulconer's chief-of-staff in mid-July.

RELATED: Mayor Faulconer’s Revised Budget Includes More Funding For Police Retention, Arts Spending

"I hope that will mean there will be a working relationship as there has been for years and years and years, even when there's been disagreements in the past, it's still been a working relationship," Alvarez said. "This year was a far exception from that and really sets a bad tone for our city."

He urged his colleagues to stay strong and hoped the mayor would restore the council office funding when mid-year budget adjustments are proposed in about six months or so.

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