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San Diego city leaders to hold final hearings for 2023 proposed budget

Funding the future of San Diego doesn’t come from thin air. It comes from local residents' tax dollars. KPBS Speak City Heights reporter Jacob Aere says city leaders are getting ready to choose where those dollars go in hearings that start next week.

The city of San Diego is close to adopting a proposed $4.89 billion budget for the 2023 fiscal year.

San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera said this year’s budget was bigger than in previous years because of overall economic recovery.

“Sales tax revenue has gone up a bunch as people are out there spending money. Tourism has not fully recovered, but it's rebounded quite a bit,” Elo-Rivera said. “Those two things just give us more money in our coffers to work with.”


Elo-Rivera said the budget aimed to address root issues in the city.

“Big picture, infrastructure, there's huge investment there,” he said. “And then housing and homelessness continues to be something the city’s investing in in a very substantial way.”

The council president said he understood the region’s struggles with homelessness and housing affordability through firsthand experience when he was growing up.

“We can't solve our homelessness crisis without preventing people from falling into homelessness,” he said.

A primary focus for the budget is increasing funds to hire, and keep, more city employees.


“Another part of this budget is starting to bring San Diego employees up to competitive wages,” Elo-Rivera said. “So that our firefighters don't feel like they have to leave the city of San Diego in order to go make the money they need to allow their family to live in this region.”

According to Elo-Rivera, the city worker shortages go beyond the fire department.

“It's a capacity issue,” he said. “So, even when the council has allocated funds towards certain needs, like street lights last year, without the people to do the work, the work won't get done.”

The city council is holding its final hearings on the budget on Monday and the following week. The 2023 fiscal year budget must be adopted by June 30.