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Mayor Faulconer's Revised Budget Includes More Funding For Police Retention, Arts Spending

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer delivers his State of the City address, Jan. 12, 2017.
Andrew Bowen
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer delivers his State of the City address, Jan. 12, 2017.
Mayor Faulconer's Revised Budget Includes More Funding For Police Retention, Arts Spending
Mayor Faulconer's Revised Budget Includes More Funding For Police Retention, Arts Spending GUEST: Barbara Bry, councilwoman, City of San Diego

Our top story on KPBS Midday Edition the revised budget restore some of the cut to mid city programs and the arts. Is it enough. Critics including the San Diego police officers union and councilmember David Alvarez say no to other city leaders see the revisions of the best of a bad situation. As the city tries to cover and $81 million deficit in the $3.6 million budget. Joining the is vibrantly chair of the city's budget committee. Thank you for inviting me. The city now says it has another $14 million from higher property tax projections and budget surpluses. How confident are you that this money will be realized.. At this point we are very confident. We are near the end of our fiscal year I think we can be very confident that additional revenue is real. Most of that money the $14 million is going to the general fund to help with next year's budget. What is the rationale. We are going to face even more challenges with next year's budget. Is pension payments to his high. So that is sort of a rainy day fund? Yes it is to help with next year's budget. We will be faced with some challenging decisions. How do you know that? The projections that that for next year for the pension costs? Yes the pension board gives us our estimated pension past several years out. They do not give us our exact number until probably mid year. We know that the pension payment next year is likely to be more than 300 million. That is for all the funds together. The general operating fund was about 200 85 million. The rest of the pension payment was spread over our enterprise and other funds. The remaining amount of this surplus that we have been talking about goes to partially restored some of the cuts made in the Mayor's original budget. 2.4 million going to the arts an additional going to libraries entry planning should more have been spent to undo the cut. On Monday every councilmember submit a priority memo about what they still want to see changed in the budget and in the priority memo that I submit I will be asking for some more money for the I said I will be asking for a line item of a few million dollars to deal with the police retention and recruitment issue. I think those are things that are very important to the mayor has allocated money to the national search for a new lease chief which is important and also a plan to look at retention. We will need more resources to deal with the situation. I am waiting until we have a plan I'm not about throwing money at something. I want to spend the money wisely. You are not alone in hoping for more money in this budget for police retention. David Alvarez said the resources allocated toward the least department in fiscal year 18 will do little to curb the Exodus of police officers out of the department. Where are you going to find that extra $3 million in the budget.. Some of the in fiscal year 18 in fiscal year 19. Have some excess equity left over. I think public safety is the number one responsibility of local government this is the most important thing we need to do to be sure our communities are safe. It is not to spend our money wisely. Pay increases are not the right way to get it may be that there are certain ranks within the police department. Certain steps within how many years people have been there that is where we are losing and where we need to increase the compensation more. Which you propose holding the money in a pan until we get the results of the survey? Yes. I'm very data-driven. I have been in the business world for 30 years and I do not want to do for money at something. I want to have data that indicates where we will get the most effective result. Part of that money is supposed to be spent next year. Want to be a problem. As I said public safety is the number one responsibility of local government. We need to focus on recruiting and in -- retaining are police officers that is the goal and that is the most important thing we as local government need to do. I guess exit -- Exodus of the question is kicking the can put the money into next year is that really wise for you. I am assuming we will not have the results in Tom midyear. I do not know how much we can spend effectively. A Councilman suggested suspending proposition eight Masters ballot member that sets aside funds to ballot products to suspend that because of the deficit situation the city finds itself in. Do you support that? Not at that time. This year we are going to be able to get through the year without severe cuts. Always open to new information for next year and one thing that has changed since we passed proposition H and is only happened in the last month is that the state passed a gasoline tax. It is going to provide the city with more money for Street and other infrastructure. That is only something we have known about recently. So you just Another critic of the budget was the climate action campaign. The call for more funding to meet the climate goals. Given that the city's deadline is 2035 are we going to have to and more to meet the goals. The the city Council asked our independent budget analyst to do a detailed analysis of what we need to spend over the next five years to meet our client action goals. I am a data-driven person I want to see what is with says before deciding how to recommend that we allocate more funding. What is the next step? What happens now? Tomorrow Thursday afternoon at 2:00 the city Council meet is the budget review committee and we review the mayors may revise we ask questions our budget analysts have analyzed it and will offer suggestions then on Monday each of us writes a memo as to what our priorities are. Send it to the independent budget analyst and she compiles it and sends it to the man. The goal is to have the final budget that we put on on June 5. I still negotiating with the Mayor's office works I think you are always negotiating until the final votes. I've been speaking with Barbara free. Thank you so much.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Tuesday that extra money in the fiscal year that begins July 1 will go toward addressing a police officer retention problem and supporting arts organizations — the most controversial issues in his $3.6 billion budget proposal.

At a news conference, Faulconer said his so-called "May Revise" includes $150,000 for a study on police officer recruitment and retention, $100,000 for a national search for a replacement for police Chief Shelley Zimmerman and an additional $2.4 million for the arts.

He also said an extra $10.3 million will be placed into reserves to prepare for an even tighter budget next year.

The extra funds were made available from money expected to be left over from the current fiscal year and higher projections of property tax revenue, according to the mayor's office.

"We're going to continue putting our neighborhoods first and keep the focus on the core services that our residents rely on the most," Faulconer said.

"Thanks to belt-tightening at City Hall, we have some leftover dollars from this year's budget that we can put toward reserves to help us face future budget challenges from rising pension costs," he said. "The fiscally responsible approach is to save now to prepare for lean budget years ahead we know are coming."

The revisions follow about a week of City Council hearings on various facets of the spending plan, along with a special meeting Monday night to receive input from members of the public who couldn't make it to City Hall during the day.

At a hearing earlier this month, Zimmerman said 13 officers are leaving the department each month, some for more lucrative jobs at other law enforcement agencies. Even though the City Council has approved measures over recent years to raise take-home pay and boost recruiting, the number of officers on the job is roughly the same as five years ago, about 200 less than called for in the budget.

In a statement, police union leader Brian Marvel said the mayor's revision "does not address concerns raised by the San Diego Police Officers Association regarding SDPD's staffing struggles, nor does it respond to an immediate and growing consequence of low staffing — SDPD failing to consistently meet minimum patrol staffing levels."

Zimmerman said the only solution was to make San Diego police officers the highest-paid in the county. They're scheduled to receive pay hikes of 3.3 percent in each of the last two years of a five-year contract that's currently in effect.

The chief is scheduled to step down early in the next calendar year because of her participation in a deferred retirement program, and several council members called for funding for a national search for a successor.

Faulconer's revisions restores a little more than half of the original $4.7 million funding cut for the city's Commission on Arts and Culture, which provides financial support to numerous groups around the city. Supporters of arts funding contend that such spending has a high return on investment by attracting out-of-town visitors to places like the Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse and Balboa Park museums.

The commission is funded by a portion of hotel room tax revenue.

The cut was the biggest in a budget squeezed by a large jump in the city's required contribution to its employee pension system — the result of changes in calculations on how long retirees are expected to live, combined by a weak investment performance.

The pension system will take an even larger bite out of the budget for the subsequent fiscal year, which is why Faulconer added to the reserve account.

The City Council is scheduled to hold a hearing on the proposed revisions on Thursday, and vote on a final spending plan next month. The budget goes into effect on July 1.