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KPBS Midday Edition

San Diego's Budget Projections Have Coronavirus Written All Over Them

The official seal for the city of San Diego appears on a door to City Hall in this undated photo.
Angela Carone
The official seal for the city of San Diego appears on a door to City Hall in this undated photo.
The two biggest sources of city revenue, sales taxes and hotel taxes, have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and are likely to remain ailing for some time.

When Todd Gloria takes office as San Diego mayor on Dec. 10, one of his priorities will be to create a budget that reflects his priorities.

Except it probably won't.

The city's financial outlook for the next five years will instead reflect large deficits caused by the coronavirus inflicting disaster on the city's two biggest sources of revenue: sales and hotel taxes.

For the upcoming 2022 budget year, beginning July 2021, city financial officials predict a deficit of $86.1 million. After that, officials project deficits of $75.1 million in 2022 and $58.6 million in 2023.

These large deficits are predicted even if a vaccine is widely available. In addition, the city plans to freeze expenditures, grant no employee raises for the next five years and dip into its reserves.

If the projections are borne out, expenditures related to the city's Climate Action Plan and infrastructure needs will be tabled and hours for libraries and rec centers will be cut.

David Garrick, who covers city hall for The San Diego Union-Tribune, joined Midday Edition on Monday to talk about projections for the 2021 city budget.