City Council approves $16M budget surplus

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The City Council has unanimously approved spending
some of this fiscal year's surprising surplus to buy the Fire Department a
new alert system, hire more police officers, and keep libraries and recreation
centers open longer.

Mayor Jerry Sanders announced last month that higher-than-expected tax
revenues could bring the city a $16.5 million surplus by the end of this fiscal
year, which ends on June 30.

Council members approved his proposals to spend:

— $2.7 million to replace the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department's aging
fire alert communications system;

— $1 million to establish an emergency reserve fund in the Capital
Improvements Program;

— $1 million to hire more recruits for a police academy class that
begins in April;

— $237,000 to keep library branches open longer; and

— $63,000 to extend recreation center hours.

Sanders has proposed holding back up to $8.3 million as a reserve in
case the revenue picture changes in the current fiscal year and, if projections
are borne out, to apply it toward street improvements in the fiscal year
starting July 1.

Several council members cautiously applauded the announcement of a surplus.

“It's too early to call it a complete victory, we still have a long way
to go,” Councilman David Alvarez said. “We can't go on a spending spree
with the money that's now available.

Councilman Todd Gloria said the city is coming out of a decade of
difficult financial times.

“Not mission accomplished, but it's a very different narrative from
what we've heard in this town for a very long time,” said Gloria, the chairman
of the council's Budget Committee.

Councilman Kevin Faulconer said reforms that have helped the city get
this far, such as putting out certain municipal services to bid, must continue.

The city's Independent Budget Analyst supports Sanders' financial
projections and said the surplus could wind up being a little higher.

The vote was 6-0, with council President Tony Young in Washington, D.C.,
and Councilwoman Lorie Zapf speaking on water issues in Los Angeles.

Categories: KUSI