Mayor Gloria Proposes $4.6 Billion Budget To Help City Recover From COVID-19
Nonprofit and small business loans, street improvements, police oversight and the San Diego Convention Center are among the highlights of Mayor Todd Gloria's $4.6 billion proposed budget, which he revealed Thursday.
Gloria was able to avoid major spending cuts thanks to the more than $300 million in federal aid included in President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan. The funds would help close deficits in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and the following two fiscal years.
"My "Back to Work SD" budget prioritizes an equitable recovery from the impacts of the pandemic while setting the foundation of a brighter future for all of us," Gloria said at a news conference in front of a Mexican restaurant in City Heights hard hit by the pandemic. "Despite a structural budget deficit inherited from the previous administration, we took a pragmatic approach to balancing this budget while protecting core services and investing in the people who have suffered the most throughout this past year."
The proposed budget centers on the "Back to Work SD" plan Gloria developed during his campaign that serves as a framework to help San Diegans devastated by COVID-19 and equip them for a brighter future.
Major money items in the budget include:
— $10 million in nonprofit and small business loans in hard-hit industries;
— $10.2 million to support the convention center, intended to "maintain good-paying jobs and keep San Diego poised for its tourism economy to rebound;"
— $10 million for street improvements in communities of concern, with another $30 million planned to come from debt service;
— Investing $22.1 million in raises for city workers to make their salaries "more competitive with other local agencies;"
— More than $10 million for immediate actions to serve those in crisis on the streets, and funding to support the new Homelessness Strategies Department;
— $4 million in cuts to San Diego Police Department overtime, with the savings invested in community programs to prevent gang violence and the city's new independent Commission on Police Practices;
— Investing $5 million into the new Climate Equity Fund; and
Gloria proposes reopening libraries, which have been shuttered since the beginning of the pandemic, but only on a Tuesday to Saturday schedule. That is expected to save $6.9 million. Gloria proposes spending another $1.25 million in e-materials and "virtual hours" in communities of concern.
While the police overtime budget would go down under Gloria's proposal, the department's overall budget would go up by about $19 million due mostly to increases in salaries and benefits.
The city faced an expected budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year of $124 million — a figure that exceeds the entire Parks and Recreation Department annual budget.
Last month, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, allocating approximately $306 million in federal relief to the city of San Diego.
Without that funding, Gloria said, "we'd be in a position of decimating neighborhood services, of laying off city employees, of asking folks to take pay cuts — asking them to take pay cuts after they have spent the last year doing what it takes to knock down this pandemic."
The $4.6 billion budget proposal recommends spending levels for city operations and capital projects for Fiscal Year 2022, which runs from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. The final budget will be adopted in June following several weeks of review by the public and the City Council.
Gloria will formally present the budget proposal to the San Diego City Council at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers.
The full budget proposal can be found at www.sandiego.gov/finance/proposed.